The Balancing Act of a Good To-Do List

To-Do List

I’ll be honest—I put off writing this post until the last second. 
 
It’s not because I didn’t want to write it, or because I didn’t think it was important. When you work in a field so closely tied to the media, it’s just hard not to put things off. More urgent things inevitably come up, and it’s the nature of the job to switch from one pressing task to another without much breathing room in between. Writing isn’t an activity that holds up well without breathing room, and there is always something more urgent than the deadlines you set for yourself. It was for these reasons that this blog post seemed doomed to fall further and further down an endless chasm of unfinished tasks.
 
If you’re someone like me, however, that can get overwhelming, and it happens fast. Add in the need to keep up with the news of the day, participate in phone calls and meetings, and the human requirement to step away from the computer now and then to, you know, eat and such, and you start to see how the non-urgent goals and projects you set for yourself can easily get swept off your radar but never completely off your mind.
 
In this case, it was a blog post, but sometimes it’s redesigning a template or fixing a paragraph on the website that’s been wrong for ages. Those little things that aren’t critical or immediate, over time, fade into the background of more pressing matters, but they never disappear.
 
I’ve discovered that not letting that happen is all about balance, and though perhaps it doesn’t sound earth-shattering, it is the humble to-do list that emerged as my solution.
 
For me, there are the things that are written down on my to-do list, and there are the things that probably won’t get done. As many life-long writers will tell you, writing something down is often what makes it feel real. The same translates to to-do lists. Even if it’s something as simple as organizing my inbox, I write it down, and placing it amongst all the other tasks for the day gives me permission, in my own mind, to take the time and get it done. Even if the goal is to research a particular outlet and read a few articles, it goes on the list. If I need to prepare for a meeting, the prep and the meeting itself are both on the list. 
 
So I would welcome you to join me in rethinking the to-do list as more of the things you get to do today, not just the things you need to get done. There’s a delicate balance to strike, to be sure. Put the things you have been meaning to do, and the things you want to do, not just the things you have to do. While not everything on the list gets done every day, looking back and seeing all the progress that day has brought is an added bonus in and of itself.