Elizabeth: From To Do to Done

After weeks of sheltering-at-home (84 days, but who’s counting), working remotely has taken on a relatively normal work-like feel.  Although I don’t have a broad expanse of industrial desk to spread my work things out on, an ergonomically adjustable chair to sit in, or a lakeside view to gaze out upon, I have the basic necessities:  a computer, a box of files and reference books, a ledger-sized calendar, and on-demand access to a kitchen with all the coffee I can drink (which is a lot).

The calendar spent the first few weeks . .  okay, months . . . in the box with the files and reference books, but when I started losing track of days and booting up the work computer on weekends, I decided it was time to pull out the calendar and put it back to use.

Around the same time, I started rummaging around in the box of files and reference books and pulled out a file folder that had all of the random scraps of paper, notes, and post-its that I had packed up from my desk before leaving back in early March, along with pages from notebooks that (theoretically) had something on them that I either needed to do or to remember.

I figured I should do something with those too.  The shredder was my first thought, but it was full.

I dutifully entered everything that was of a “should do this” nature onto an electronic ToDo list; tossed the business cards given to me by people I had forgotten before they even got two steps away into the recycling bin; and added the notes that I was able to decipher into my electronic notebook file, for future reference.

Then I thought, “who am I kidding?”

I can’t remember the last time I looked at anything in my electronic notebook file, and the electronic ToDo list has things on it from years ago that will only be finally crossed off through obsolescence.  As I may have mentioned in a previous post or two, I hate ToDo lists.  Frankly, my To Do list could be more appropriately called my Never Do list.  Or maybe the Should-Do-But-Don’t-Want-To-Do list.   Or possibly the Wishful-Thinking List.

While Marie Kondo-ing my dresser and closet this weekend, I had a bit of an epiphany.  Well, maybe it was just a thought.  My ToDo list definitely does not bring me joy.  Constant irritation is more like it.

Once upon a time there used to be a certain amount of satisfaction derived from crossing things off the list, but that ship sailed along with my DayTimer and reasonable workload.

So it’s good by ToDo list and hello I’veDone list.

Okay, not a very catchy name (I’m open to suggestions), but the idea is a shift in focus.  Instead of being weighed down by all of the things that need to be done (which I’m hardly likely to forget, if they are actually important), I’m keeping a daily list of the things I have done. My ledger-sized work calendar has big blocks for each day that are the perfect size for me to note down completed tasks (which will come in handy come year-end review time when one must document what one has done in order to earn one’s salary).  For non-work tasks, I’ve gone low-tech with a colorful sharpie and one of the many notepads charities are always sending me in the mail along with their pleas for donations.

Sunday’s list was very satisfying:

  • remove wasp’s nest from entryway
  • weed front yard
  • clean-out dresser drawers
  • read
  • read
  • FaceTime with family
  • Root beer float

I’m feeling more joyful already.  And more creative.

I’m also thinking that changing the focus from “all that remains to be done” to “what has been accomplished” may result in increased some productivity.  I can see myself being motivated to finish a task just to be able to add it to the list.

I’ll let you know how that goes.

So, what have you done to change your focus or increase your joy lately?

6 thoughts on “Elizabeth: From To Do to Done

  1. Puzzles. I love puzzles and hadn’t done them in years. I actually started doing them again last fall. While I’m not doing the whole Marie Konda thing, I’m doing my own version – 1 thing a day, every day, 365 days. I’m on year 2. So in the fall, I started going to the old puzzles in the basement. I put them together to make sure they had all the pieces and then got rid of them.

    And fortunately, we have a home office with large desks and ergonomic chairs (although I’ve discovered that I need a better one if I’m going to be in for so long.

    • I remember your “1 thing a day” effort, Michille and implemented it myself this year. I’m having a little bit of a challenge currently, since there is no place open around me right now that will accept anything, but when there is, I’ll be ready for them.

      As for the puzzles, I’ve been working my way through a lot of them recently. Some I like and will do again after a waiting period, but I’ve sent others on their way.

  2. I used to have a job where, to keep track of many, many details, I kept a list, prioritized by what had to get off my desk first. And the first thing I did when I made my list out every day was put at the top of it, “Make list.” So then I could cross off one thing right away. With a flourish!

    I like to-do lists because they keep me honest, but it’s not good to become a slave to them, either. And a have-done list is an excellent idea! I just made one out for this morning. Very inspiring. 🙂

    • The “Make List” entry on the list made me chuckle, Kay, but I can definitely relate. Glad I was able to inspire you to create your own have-done list this morning. My list for today includes working in an on-line Pilates class while participating in a business meeting 🙂

  3. Pingback: Michille: One Thing A Day – Eight Ladies Writing

  4. I love to-do lists! Well, making them. It feels so tidy and sorted. But then I pretty much proceed to ignore them. It helps if I can keep the list to three or seven things, but even then, there’s only a 50/50 chance I’ll look at them after I finish them.

    I have been doing things! But they aren’t necessarily the things I think need done. On July 5, we’ll have another ceremony for my FIL’s funeral, and so I wanted some nice flowers to line the walk for that. I have some white geraniums that I’ve tried rooting, and we’ll see how the red ones do now that I’ve moved them from indoors to outdoors. They’ll probably lose all their leaves in the hot sun, but maybe they’ll recover by July 4 (I’ll have to hide them on July 5 — red isn’t a lucky color for funeral-related things).

    The big deal is the first Obon — Obon is kind of like the roots of Halloween, where people believe the dead return home for a visit during the three days at the end of summer (August 15th-ish in my area). I planted lilies that have only just started to come up, and store-bought lilies that look like they are going to bloom in July (!), and I have a variety of balloon flowers that are supposed to bloom around Obon. Some store-bought, and some that miraculously survived the winter outdoors in pots. I also am planting gladioluseseses (where do I stop on that plural?) every ten days, so I hope I get some blooming when I need them.

    I’m really, really enjoying the green things, and arranging flowers. But in my more serious moments, it feels like a distraction to what I actually should be doing.

    But, I do feel stories starting to stir beneath the surface. So, we’ll see what happens.

    Say, if anyone needs an item for their “should do” list (ha-ha!), how about “how to buy an ergonomic chair for home use”? I could use one. I could also use a comfy sofa. We have one that looks comfy, but becomes a pain in the back/neck after five minutes of sitting/reclining. I’m too old to sit on the floor for more than half an hour . . . .

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