Crossing things off my list

On the weekend, I made a list of all the ‘big’ things that need to be done soon (and by soon, I meant over the next probably two weeks at most). It was kind of therapeutic to write the down. Because they’ve been bouncing around in my head non-stop for days/weeks. Some of them I knew I wasn’t going to forget (like my seminar) but others I would remember and immediately think “don’t forget about x,” after which, I would invariably forget about it.

So I got up one morning with a fit of inspiration to start writing them all down. And, of course, I didn’t remember them all right then. But I was able to put together a pretty good list (it’s actually sad how long this list is). And I’ve continued to add to this list when I remember something (which is also why it’s getting so long). I’m only writing down the overall task, not the pieces, that need to be done. So finish seminar or finish experiment, not the pieces like “test out part x of experiment and solve problem y.” (I have other todo/task lists for the smaller pieces.)

Some of the tasks are big in terms of the amount of work that needs to be done. Others, because they were going to save me money and/or cause me to pay more if I just didn’t get too it. But all of them were important and things I needed to stop putting off.

Putting together the list was only part of the work. The big part was following through on it. But, having this list staring at me with the overall tasks that need to be done, has been really helpful. In fact, immediately after writing it, I was able to get myself to start crossing things off.

Since the beginning, I’ve crossed off about half of the items. I’ve cut my cable/internet bill in half (bye-bye cable) and saved money on my cell phone plane. I know have my flights and hotel booked for my conferences. I’ve finished and sent off a form to recruit participants for a study. I’ve finished my final report needed to wrap up the end of a scholarship I received.

But best of all, I have a clear idea of where I need to be spending my time, and what’s important and needs to be done now (or, as I mentioned in my last post) what’s on fire right now.

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