I have a to-do list. I put all of those action points from the notes I take every day into a task within Outlook. I transfer those which relate to bigger prices of work into separate tasks and so what is left are the miscellaneous bits and bobs. They are the detritus of my quotidian working life. I look at the list every day and try to knock some things off. This is one of the tools I use to manage my life.
I know how many things I have to do and the date in which I agreed to do them. I don’t like to have too many on the list and I suppose it is a bit of a barometer of how much I have on. The busier I am the more the list swells and as it shrinks then I know that the pendulum has swung the other way. I get a little nervy when the list has more than fifty things on it. I don’t know why this is an important number but it is the same one that I use for my emails. Over fifty spells mild panic. As I write this, I have seventy six things on my to-do list and eighty three emails in my in box. Beads of sweat have appeared on my forehead.
What I don’t have is a to-stop list. I don’t have a don’t-do list.
My focus is on doing things. I am a reluctant overachiever after all. There is always more to get done and yet the harder I try the bigger the mountain becomes. As my wife says to me ‘It is the willing donkey that caries the heaviest load’ and it seems that work is attracted to those who try.
The only way to square the circle then is to stop doing those things that are less important, which don’t require my unique skill set and where someone else would be better placed.
I have started a to-stop list. So far it has nothing in it.