Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Monday, January 4, 2010

Easier Said Than...

Reading about procrastination, writer’s bloc, and other failures of “productivity engineering” can be a great dodge—sounds like research and problem-solving, works like solitaire.  It can also turn up some useful ideas. 

Somewhere in my extensive reading on the subject of getting stuff done, I came across the idea of making a “Done” list, in place of or as an antidote to the often ego-deflating “To Do” list.  Barb Cooper’s SO, THE THING IS…BLOG  includes a humorous example of the use of the “Done” list to document all the stuff that gets in the way of our loftier plans.  Her list illustrates the stop-and-go rhythms that characterize the days of a mother trying to work from home.  She stops short of listing “Drank Coffee” and “Took Shower,”  musing about how pathetic that would be.  I have to agree with her observation that showering can represent a real achievement some days.

Some who recommend using a “Done” list suggest listing all accomplishments as far back as one can remember (by category, even!), which seems to me like yet another distraction from the tasks at hand.  I’m not interested in taking time for extensive life review at this point.  I do, however, think a routine reality check may be useful in my journey out of the stalled place I’ve been in for too long.  And I like the idea of focusing on what got done, instead of on my manic starts and start-ups.   And I love the idea of giving myself credit for serendipitous/accidental feats.

So the plan is to post each Monday my “Done” list for the previous week.  I will keep my list short rather than exhaustive/exhausting; focus on achievements related to my own priorities; and try to use my energies so that most weeks I can claim to have done more than shower. 

Here is my first “Easier Said But Actually Done” list, for the week ending Jan. 3rd, 2010:

  1. Started Couch Potato to 5K training
  2. Started Blog
  3. Paid overdue medical bills
  4.  Saw “It’s Complicated” with husband (mine)
  5.  Drafted Home School Transcript for my 16-year-old
  6.  Baked with my 16-year-old
  7.  Finished Burn Marks, by Sara Paretsky
  8.  Phoned Mom, twice
  9.  Updated nonprofit website I manage
  10.  Met with meditation group

Not a bad start, though I do say so myself.  (And it should go without saying that hygiene was attended to, coffee was drunk, and I was not fired from either of my two paying jobs.)

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