How I love lists. Being accountable only to myself during the course of any given workday, I have to figure out how to get from morning to evening in a meaningful and productive way. Enter The List. I color-code mine: blue pen for work-related things, black for everyday life kinds of things—things I slip in during breaks or after-hours (my hours, yes, but those black lists remind me to actually keep hours delineated between Work and The Rest of Life). I could use more fun colors, I suppose, but red is much too demanding and other colors, well, they just don’t speak to me. I don’t like purple (save that for another post), and green with blue or green with black is just too jarring. These lists are for order: I don’t want anything jumping out as higher priority if it isn’t.
The priorities I save for numbering. Once I’ve got my to-do list for the day, I number it according to importance, and according to what I know I need to knock out first thing in the day or else I will endlessly put it off. The numbers don’t tend to extend beyond three. It’s enough to get my momentum up, and then I recognize that Life happens, so we just have to see after that.
I have big lists and little lists, daily lists and weekly lists and overarching lists of monthly or yearly or lifetime goals. There is nothing so satisfying as crossing off an item on my list. How else to account for my day when I’m the only one keeping track? But I’m okay if a list item has to be carried over to the next day, or the next week, and even if it falls off entirely. Sometimes I set out to do something I’ve written down and realize, when I really look at it, that it actually won’t serve me. It was just an idea that popped into my head and I wrote it down before other ideas crowded it out, but that doesn’t mean it was a good idea.
I’m sure every independent business owner has their own way of keeping track. Generally, they are probably much more high-tech than mine. I have one colleague who loves Excel spreadsheets, and she will spend happy hours color-coding and cross-referencing hers. then of course there are all the i-thingies out there willing to run your life for you. Whatever works for you.
Me, I like the tactility of lists. I like being able to lay things out visually. I like physically crossing things out. Is it any wonder I do hand-drawn design? It all begins here, with a list.