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Are you working off the right list?

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Hubby and me at Ocali Country Days

I’m a list-maker from way back. Actually, I’m one of those crazy people who will add something I’ve already done to the list, just for the pleasure of checking it off. I know, there’s probably a support group somewhere.

While lists can be great to keep me focused and on track, they can also give me tunnel vision. As things crop up, I keep willy-nilly adding them to my list until one day, I look at it and think, “Yikes. That will take a team of 4 about 8 days to get done.”

But even that isn’t the scariest realization. What really slaps me in the forehead is when I realize nothing on my list will help me reach my goals. Some of it, sure, in a peripheral, I-need-a-working-computer-to-function kind of way.

No, it’s the things that are NOT on the list that frighten me. Where’s the writing time? The journaling? Where’s the giving back that nurtures my soul? The time with friends and family?

Hubby and me at Ocali Country Days

Hubby and me at Ocali Country Days

Have you been there? For me, that means it’s time for a list comparison.

Here’s my method: get out the priority list (you have one, right?), or update the current one. Lay it down next to the current to-do list. Compare. Wince. Sigh. And then get out your red pen and start crossing off things that should never have been on the list to begin with.

Now granted, there is stuff in life that just plain has to get done. No question. So dedicate a block of time to those mean ugly tasks and knock them out as fast as possible. (Office clean-up, anyone?)

Then reorganize the remaining list with the most important tasks first; the big rocks, if you will.

Take a deep breath, relax, and start at the top, knowing you are back on track…

How do you make sure you’re working off the right list? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Fun stuff:

–I’m a guest over at Emilie Hendryx’s Thinking Thoughts blog, talking about all kinds of writerly things. Would you pop over and say “hi”? If you leave a comment, you’ll have a chance to win a copy of Angel Falls, too. Feel free to send a couple of friends over, too, would you?

–I am trying to build up the numbers on my Facebook Author Page. If you haven’t “liked” it yet, could I ask you to? Thanks so much.

–Throughout November, Abingdon Fiction is doing a Twitter/FB campaign called #WhatIAmThankfulFor. Follow that # (hashtag)  for fun quotes from authors; maybe a prize or two. Can you find what I’m thankful for?

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    The Conversation

  1. Jan Jackson says:

    I am a list maker as well. For me, it makes me feel less overwhelmed by what I need to do and gives a sense of achievement when I cross things off. Here’s an interesting idea. Make a list with ten things you need to do and then a list with ten things you want to do. Compare. Hopefully, writing is tops on both lists. LOL! What I think you will find is there needs to be a balance. One that is hard to find. As you say, all work and no play, not good. We need joy in our lives to fuel our souls. I also look on the list for things that are not my responsibility or I can delegate. I still struggle to remember it’s okay to ask for help. Think of it like editing a manuscript. Does this improve my life? Necessary to structure of life? Keep my life moving forward? You get the idea.

  2. Martha McDonnough says:

    I’m a list maker, too, and often add something I’ve already done. The more checks I have, the fast the rest of the list seems to get checked off.
    however, when I do add “office clean-up” I have to block out at least an hour. (I don’t add it very often.)

  3. Grace Kone says:

    Connie, I too am a list-maker. Every day – with the rare of exception of days I’m having a dinner party – at the top of my list (# 1) is whatever book I’m working on at the moment. That always comes first, then the editing jobs I do for other people; after that, the contests waiting to be judged, household errands, etc. Basically, that book comes first, seven days a week.

    • Connie says:

      Wow, Grace. I love the way you’ve cut through all the excuses, etc., and put writing at the top of the list–and keep it there, every single day. That’s inspiring! Thanks for sharing that…