I am an extremely structured person and I consider my to-do list my best friend. But recently our relationship has been on-again, off-again.
Nothing brings me greater joy than crossing off an item on my to-do list. But at the end of the day, if items have yet to be crossed off, I feel as if a piece of my soul has died. My entire day is driven by the suspense of what it will feel like to erase every item from that dreaded list. Before I know it the clock reads 11:00pm and my list screams:
YOU ARE THE WORST!
DO YOU EVEN WORK, BRO?
It's like sitting through an entire movie completely invested in the storyline only to find out that the main character in the movie was having a dream.
***Insert feeling of frustration***
That's when I give up on making to-do lists. A week later, after forgetting to complete tons of tasks and angered by my lack of organization, I return to making my lists. This time will be different though. I'll get a new notebook/planner and write with a beautiful ballpoint pen.
I can't live with them and I can't live without them.
If you're reading this post and have your hands in the air praising the Lord that you are not alone, let me tell you, THERE IS HOPE!
Here's what I've learned over the past few months:
- Plans are great and we should all make them, but most things don't go the way we plan and we have to be okay with that. Like a boxer, you have to roll with the punches. Don't let those voices in your head tell you that you suck or that you are pathetic! Things are going to pop up, meetings are going to run long. The world will not end. Trust me, have left many to-do lists uncompleted and am still kicking!
- Don't make your lists too long! Having a lot of small tasks is fine, but don't make your goals for the day unrealistic. Filling two sheets of paper with projects that need to be completed is going to leave you unmotivated. Maybe some of you are driven by that, but if I see a gigantic list of stuff I have to get done, I prefer to curl up in a ball in the corner and cry like a two year old child.
- Complete one task at a time. This is something I'm still working through. Between social media and email, it is very easy to allow things to pop up and grab our attention. Focus on the task at hand, complete it, and move on to the next one. When you do five things at one time, nothing ends up getting done and you're left with a bunch of started tasks but nothing to show for it. Put your phone on sleep mode or leave it in the other room. Close everything on your computer, except for what you are working on, unless one of your tasks is to check emails or post on social media (a majority of my job as a musician). In that case, good luck and let me know how you juggle the incoming emails and newsfeed distractions!
I'm not an expert at this stuff and I don't have any self-help books for sale. All I can do is let you in on what seems to work for me.
So, when your to-do list is starring back at you and it's looking like there is just too much to get done, repeat this statement to yourself, "I am stronger than a piece of paper!"
DISCLAIMER: Writing this post was on my to-do list and I am proud to say that it has now been crossed off!
Keep singing and planning,