A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. ‘Tis true. If it were called bog shrub we would love it just the same.
It’s not true for your to-do list, however.
A to-do list should have a handful of concrete tasks on it that are related to your projects. Problems start growing when it’s used as a catch-all for everything you have to do.
This is a common problem for creative, expansive thinkers. They have no difficulties filling up to-do lists. When I did a brain dump recently with Nancy, she told me her head was churning out ideas like a popcorn popper.
As we talked about her list, it became clear that some things needed to be done right away so that other things could happen. Some things she really wanted to do now. Then there were other things that could wait a bit.
It was confusing to have all of these on her to-do list. I suggested that, for starters, she put the things that could wait onto a new list and call it the “deep freeze.”
Simply dividing and renaming the list let Nancy mentally set aside those ideas so she could concentrate on today’s work. The ideas don’t get lost or forgotten. They’re safely stored for the future. She can review that list anytime to see what should be moved onto it or off of it.
How can you divide up your too-long to-do list?
Some people use names like “projects,” “work,” or “personal.” Those are fine, but it might motivate and focus you to use more descriptive phrases such as “deep freeze,” “back burner,” “holding pen,” “bucket list,” “next in line,” “crystal ball,” “wait ‘n’ see” or “parking lot” for the things you’re not going to do now.
For the tasks you want to do try “cool stuff,” “dream bag,” “love it,” “empire building,” or “world domination.”
For current stuff, try “right now,” “today,” “just do it,” “on fire,” “yes!” “in progress,” “daily specials,” or “full speed ahead.”
Those phrases all have different feels to them, don’t they? It’s important to choose names that inspire you. If you’re motivated by urgency, for example, go for something like “on fire.” If you like metaphors and themes like Havi does, call it something like “the pony corral.”
Be totally silly and call your list “Debbie.”
There are two points here. First, divide your list into things you will do today and those you’ll do in the future (the latter can be several lists). Second, pick names for your lists that are evocative and meaningful to you.
List names are significant. They help us clarify and categorize our thoughts. Names have attitudes and moods associated with them that we can use to motivate us. Plus, they can be fun, and, ahem, we all need that.