Making a to-do list sounds like a great idea…at first. But because you’re a writer, your to-do list probably ends up including about a hundred items or more. When your brain sees this gigantic roll of tasks it starts to shut down. Your eyes glaze over and you suddenly need a nap.
This is why a lot of people don’t do well with to-do lists.
But then, there are those people you know who effortlessly glide through task after task, crossing each item off with a thick and final black line. Where do those people come from? And how do you get to be one of them?
This is how:
Feel free to put all one hundred items you would like to get done on your to-do list, but then take a step back and realize there is a difference between like to get done and absolutely has to get done right now. For example, if you make your to-do list on a weekly basis, pull out only the items that have deadlines for that week. Put these tasks in a separate document and concentrate only on moving through each and every one until you’ve conquered them all.
It’s time to get real about how long each task is really going to take you. If one of your tasks includes editing a 300-page manuscript then plan ahead to give yourself ample time to get it done (like a month, or even two). It’s also helpful to tackle a task like this in smaller bite-sized chunks. Assign yourself an hour or two a day to work on it and then move onto other things.
Communication Is Key
If some of the stuff you have to get done involves other people, be upfront about when they can expect you to finish and what the finished product will look like. If you’re asked to write a guest blog, for instance, check out the guidelines on word count, topic, and if you’re responsible for providing images so that you’re clear from the get go on what you need to do. Always ask the other party what their deadline is for the project as well.
List form works great for the classic to-do list, but adding items to a calendar can be incredibly helpful. Actually seeing what you need to do each day, and having a visual forecast of the week and month ahead can reinforce your awareness of deadlines, accountability, and opportunities coming up on the horizon.
Every writer would love to be a powerhouse who tackles 15 items every day. But realistically, not many people can sustain this pace for more than a day or two. Slow and steady works much better for artistic types. Unless you’re in total crisis crunch-time, make it your method to work on no more than three different items per day. This will give you more room to expand your energies and use large blocks of time to concentrate on the important stuff (like finishing that novel).
To-do lists can be the most un-fun thing in the universe, or they can be a tool that really works for you and moves you forward with your writing goals. The choice is entirely up to you.
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