Lists help. They really do.
Right now, I have a bunch of projects going: I'm revising my novel, finishing a nonfiction book, finishing three new short stories, planning a short story collection, planning a new novel, blogging for British Airways (more on that later), and volunteering for our local neighborhood organization. I've also got family and household responsibilities, many of which are recurring (e.g., laundry, which happens every week) and more urgent than my official "work" stuff.
In general, I keep two lists at once: a master list of items that need doing, and a daily list of things I need to do today. As I complete tasks on the latter list, I also cross them off the former. The next day's list is made from remaining items on the master list plus whatever new fires need to get put out now.
The daily list also specifies how much time I should devote to each task. Having this structure helps, too.
But the system isn't working as well as it should. Larger tasks with long time horizons tend to linger on the master list. Being less urgent, they are easier to put off. No one needs to make a bathroom backsplash immediately, but Jane needs her gymnastics leotard before her next class.
It helps to break large tasks into chunks that go on the daily list, but this strategy creates new problems. Since the master list can't get too long, where should I keep the sub-list of smaller tasks, and how often should I refer to it?
Labels: excessive vanity, navel-gazing