Do It, To It – The To-Do List Redeux
A stack of screen-printed STMT posters, new products up in our shop, mail crates full of packages ready for the postman – all sure signs that I owned the day. But what about those mad crazy-busy days when you get a shit-ton done but have nothing physical to show for it? Hellooo, to-do list! Phat red lines marked through every task I knocked out – a visual representation that I did get shit done.
Every morning I resist the urge to grab my phone and check my inbox from bed. Instead, I shuffle to the kitchen with eyes half-closed, make coffee, and kick off my day by writing a to-do list.
There’s a method to creating an effective list – and it’s essential that is shows progress. Seeing progress isn’t about rewarding yourself and giving yourself a treat. Every time you complete a task, it helps keep you motivated. “Seeing” that your day is productive fuels your motivation and makes you happy. It feels good knowing that you’re getting shit done!
HOW TO WRITE A NO-FUSS, GET-SHIT-DONE TO-DO LIST
1. WRITE IT AT THE RIGHT TIME
Notice how I write my to-do list BEFORE I check email, first thing in the morning? That’s because you want to start off with a clean slate – the stuff you really need or want to get done, before the rest of the day comes in to distract you. Another good time to write your list – at the end of the work day, before you leave the office. That way when you get in the next day, you’re ready to roll.
2. PICK YOUR BATTLES
Every day, I begin with 10 tasks. After ALL the original 10 are complete, I add 1-2 tasks at a time. Don’t add a new task before then or you’ll end up avoiding tasks you don’t want to tackle. If I can’t complete a task by the end of day, I move it forward. And duh – do not add a task you know you can’t complete that day! Why set yourself up for failure?
3. KEEP IT DIRECT
Lists are task driven – every to-do is a task. I keep the wording concise and short. No extra fluff. Don’t include a project on your list, write ONE task that moves you toward completing the project. For example – “design STMT X USA poster” is no good. Go with “sketch 10 concepts for STMT X USA poster”.
I use memo books for my to-do lists. The rule? Each task must fit on one line. No long descriptions, no rambling, just short-and-sweet tasks. The memo books from STMT X England are a fave and so are the memo books included in our USA Kit – the compact sheet size keeps my lists tight.
4. TRACK THOSE TASKS
I keep track of each task’s status with 3 different markings ::
A. One diagonal line on the task’s number = Task started, still open.
B. Two diagonal lines (“X”) on the task’s number = Completed as much of the task as I can for that day. I never write down tasks I KNOW I can’t finish – but sometimes somethin’ comes up that’s out of your control. Don’t beat yourself up – just put on that X, and move the task to tomorrow’s list.
C. “X” plus a line through the task = Task DONE! PARTY!
5. KICK SOME TO-DO LIST ASS
Cross off tasks with a phat-tipped red pen. I prefer big pens because it makes me feel like I’m crushin’ it, conquering my day! The more tasks you cross off, the happier you feel.
Now get to it – grab a memo book, pencil or pen, and red pen – place them on your kitchen table or stuff into your bag to take to work. Get excited to kick some major ass tomorrow!