I’ve always thought of myself as a list maker and I believed that making lists was the best way to get shit done, even though I rarely managed to scratch more than two things off a list in a day. At the end of the day I’d look at a list with 5 or 6 things on it that I didn’t get around to and think, what the hell did I do with my time? Far out, I procrastinate too much. I really have to change that. So, the next day I’d write another list with renewed determination to get shit done, but I’d never make it to the end of the list, even though the things I had on there were only small tasks that wouldn’t take that much time or effort. Ugh, what’s wrong with me? I’ll try harder tomorrow, then tomorrow would come, then another tomorrow, then another and rinse, repeat. My day was pretty much taken up by what I saw as not getting shit done. I’d never feel good about the things I did do because there was always more that I didn’t do.
This cool guy I’m married to came to live here after he quit his job working away in a remote location. I’d see him from time to time, but it’s been several years since we lived together all the time and I’d forgotten how focussed he is. He has this super-ability to accomplish all this amazing shit in one day. As soon as he got here, he started writing a daily list on the blackboard we have painted on the wall. Wow, he really is pretty damn cool, I thought to start with, but it didn’t take long until I started comparing myself to him and as a result became even less productive with my own list. “What’s the point of writing a list if you don’t do the things on it?” He asked me before skipping off to finish putting the guttering on the shed he’d just built.
Instead of pushing him off the ladder and burying his body in the 4 metre bore he’d just dug by hand I decided that maybe he was right and that just because I’d been telling myself I was list maker for as long as I can remember, doesn’t mean I am one. All at once I recalled all the past effort I’d put into lists, scheduling, planning, goal setting and how it just never worked: I hated it. The more I tried to force myself into a box the more I railed against it and the more it made me feel like a failure because like I said earlier I could only focus on what I wasn’t achieving instead of what I did achieve. I’ve been doing this for years. What an idiot!
My brain popped up and said, “Hey, what about a reverse to-do list?”
My mind said, “What’s that?”
“Well,” said my brain, “Instead of writing out shit that you want to get done, it’s where you write out the shit that you did get done. Kind of like a journal, but without the tears and emotional outpouring.”
So, I called it The Book of What I Did. I thought keeping all my daily achievements (even the mundane stuff like cleaning the bathroom) in one place would be a great way to see that even though I don’t get stuff done, I also get a lot of stuff done. I feel pretty excited that I don’t have to look at a list anymore and think about how I hate everything on it.
Lists are still important. I mean, where would I be without my shopping list, or without my wish list on Booktopia? But by not having a daily to-do list I hope I can focus more on what I’m achieving rather than what I’m not achieving because:
Big achievements are made up of all the little ones, and as Paul Kelly said: