I am a big fan of to-do lists.
There is nothing in the world that I can’t accomplish once I have put it on my to-do list.
I usually like to start the day before. If I am on a night shift at work then I will keep a scrap of paper handy and when something jumps into my head that needs taking care of I jot it down on tomorrow’s to-do list.
Then, when I get home I put that to-do list on my keyboard so that I know first thing in the morning that I need to do something to cross out something on that to-do list.
Some of the to-do list items are pretty simple – like “Do Laundry” or “Take Out Garbage”. These are things that I would probably do but might forget – so I usually try to get to them early in the day.
Others are a little harder – like “Write one chapter” or “Clean up my office”.
All right, so that “Clean up my office” is damn near impossible for me – but I at least try to go through and throw out a bit of the clutter every day or two. It still looks like a landfill fell somewhere in here weekly for the last millenia or so – but so long as it is on my To-Do list I make it a point to get a little bit done.
Other items are giveaways. “Comb hair” or “Wash face” is easy – but it is important that I put it on my To-Do list JUST so that I can cross it off. The act of crossing off ANY item on a To-Do list builds the illusion of momentum.
That’s what a To-Do list is mostly for.
It gives you that illusion of control and momentum – which is another way of saying that list allows you to tell yourself a story about you having control and momentum in your life – AND IF YOU TELL A STORY LONG ENOUGH IT BECOMES TRUE.
That’s what all of these “Secret Self-Help Techniques” boil down to. You kid yourself long enough into something and it will actually become a part of your life. You won’t ever tell yourself that “I never comb my hair” because you do so every day.
And I know my wife is out there shaking her head and thinking to herself that I probably comb my hair about once every three days if there has been a strong wind blowing but that’s just how it is sometimes.
To-Do lists work for novel writing as well. Tonight before you go to bed why don’t you write yourself a To-Do list for your next chapter and leave it on your keyboard for you to see in the morning. Jot a few notes about what you want to accomplish in the morning with that chapter and odds are you’ll just fall into writing it and it will become easy. You will have both momentum and control.
Give it a try and see.
I passed the 15000 word mark this morning hitting 15,300 – which is almost a third of the way through my 50000 word goal.
Let me scratch that off my To-Do list.