I'm a big fan of to-do lists. I've been keeping a serious weekly to-do list for years, and I occasionally supplement it with other lists. I tend to feel that if I want to be sure to get something done, I should put it on a list.
But just writing things down on a piece of paper, one item after another instead of in a paragraph, won't necessarily provide you with a to-do list that will get you anywhere. Melissa Thompson explains why in 2018 Is Your Year For Avoiding These 6 To-Do List Mistakes.
How Writers Can Make Mistakes With To-Do Lists
- You Put Too Many Things On The List. Overwhelm. Few people deal well with that. And, remember, we're most likely to experience failures of willpower when we feel bad about ourselves, for things like not getting everything done on our to-do lists. Less. My word for the year is less.
- You Don't Plan For Interruptions. For instance, your editor gets back to you with content editing and that is the end of the new work you were getting started on. Or you suddenly hear of an opportunity to submit work, but the submission, itself, requires some unexpected work when your to-do list says you're supposed to be doing marketing. Or you're suddenly dealing with a problem with the pharmacy or a medical bill you think you already paid or a family who is sick. I don't see how you can plan for these things. Unless you go back to Item 1 and don't have your to-do list jammed packed in the first place.
- You Don't Prioritize. Writers have an array of tasks these days. Which one is the most important? That's easy, right. Writing, of course. Not always. It's all situational, lads and lasses. Research may be a priority one day. Marketing another. Editing. Teaching. Appearances. You have to constantly be changing your priorities. Sad to say, you can't pick one and create a long-term habit.
- You Don't Set Deadlines Or Estimate Time. The unit system can help with this. Whatever time segment you choose to use becomes an immediate deadline. You can assign yourself a number of units for a particular task, and there you have an estimate of time.
- You Aren't Specific. This is where having objectives for your goals comes in handy. For instance, a goal of "Generate New Work" isn't very specific. The objectives for the goals are. 1. "Finish a draft of Good Women." 2. "Write food essays." 3. "Write essays using outlines created for workshop submissions." And you can get even more specific. 1. "Write food essays--draft an essay about baking pans." (Seriously. I want to do that.) 2. "Write essays using outlines created for workshop submissions--draft an essay from the procrastination submission."