Monday, April 27, 2009

The Value of To-Do Lists

If lateness is one of my least favorite things, then to do lists are one of my favorite things. I make them everywhere: on napkins, on my computer, on scraps of paper, on the back of my hand... anywhere. My new computer has a great to do list template that you fill in, but it has boxes to check off as things are completed. (See photo at left.) Riding the bus to work in the morning, I can often be found making a list of all the things I intend to accomplish that day.

There are 3 main reasons that I love to do lists:

#1 - When there is a lot to do, a list is more reliable than my brain. This is entirely practical: when I have a lot going on (for example two shows, a job hunt, & a blog to maintain), writing things down is a sure way to remember that they need to be done. I have a pretty great memory for the most part, but ensuring that nothing is missed or forgotten is a key part of my job as a stage manager.

#2- They are a great way to proactively procrastinate. In putting off things I don't want to do, making a list of things I need to do is great. It allows more to still be doing something useful while procrastinating. This was one of the most valuable things I learned in university!

#3- There is nothing as satisfying as looking at a list with every single item crossed off. (confession: I have been known to put things I've already done onto my list, just so I can cross them off.) The sense of accomplishment that accompanies a list with every item finished is fantastic.

--- -- -- - -- - - - - --- - -- - -- -

One of my best tools for list making is this note pad from knock knock Novelties.


gilliebean said...

I cannot function without my to do list! Nothing happens! I'll just sit at my computer and stare at the desktop if I haven't made a list.

When I first started at Pacific Theatre, I hadn't developed a list-making system for myself. Rebecca helped me figure one out by talking through my preferences and how Scott used to do things. Finally, my to do list was created. I used Excel and the sort function.

Now I use a yummy little app called Things. It's amazing and it also has a version for the iPhone and they sync. So I've migrated my to do list from Excel to Things. But I still rely on it heavily.

bfg said...

I love the to do list. It helps me organize my brain. And I love the act of physically putting it down on paper because it makes the process of crossing something off that much more satisfying.

And I, too, sometimes put things on it I've already done just to cross them off...