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Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category

The Art of a Good To-Do List

I’m a fan of the to-do list.  A big fan.  Partly I like making lists because they give me something to do during the day that is about work but not actually work, if you see what I mean.  I can just about get away with making endless lists of shit-to-get-done in the office because, in theory, once I’ve made my lists, I’ll start actually doing the shit.  (In. Theory.)

But also I like the poetry of a to-do list.  Funny titles, clever bullet points, drawings, plans, a record of a day (a week, a month).  The simple (buy new toothbrush) to the huge (finish manuscript).  I don’t make distinctions between the importance of different tasks; I might well buy a new toothbrush this evening, but equally I might well decide that my teeth can stay covered in plaque for the sake of writing another chapter.

My lists are not organized; no, this would be missing the point.  The point of a good to-do list is not really to create order.  The point of a good to-do list is to give thoughts some space.  A good to-do list is like the Pensieve in Harry Potter (yes, really)–it’s like pulling thoughts out of your head, putting them somewhere safe, where they won’t bother you and you won’t bother them, and then being able to revisit them whenever you want.

A good to-do list cannot be made to look neat or tidy.  At any moment you might need to add to it or subtract from it.  You might need to write, “make new to-do list” on it because it’s so crowded; but you won’t make that new to-do list, not immediately.  You’ll know when it’s time, when your priorities have shifted, when the clutter outweighs the usefulness of the list.  Then you’ll start again.

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Playlist/Reading List

…on the shelf:

  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh edited by Michael Davie
  • Selected Poems by Louis MacNeice (a constant presence, of late)
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • British Poetry Since 1945 edited by Edward Lucie-Smith
  • Towards the End of the Morning by Michael Frayn
  • Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

…on spotify:

  • Stuart Murdoch
  • Polly Scattergood
  • Florence + The Machine
  • Fleet Foxes
  • Neko Case
  • Regina Spektor
  • Take That (Yes, really.  I’m convinced that in many ways “Shine” is the ultimate walking-down-the-street-on-a-sunny-summer-day tune)
  • Johnny Flynn

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Should, Want

Things I Should Do Today:

  • go for a run
  • make soup
  • do the laundry
  • write at least something related to the book

Things I Want To Do Today:

  • sit on the couch bathed in sunlight
  • have a nap

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Should, Want

Things I Should Do Today:

  • go for a run
  • make soup
  • do the laundry
  • write at least something related to the book

Things I Want To Do Today:

  • sit on the couch bathed in sunlight
  • have a nap

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It’s another grey-skied lapsang souchong Thursday.

The Man fixed the electricity problem. I do love men, don’t you?

I’ve got three blog posts to write today. (Yes, I really am sticking to a schedule). I’ve spent the morning doing anything but work. I’m organizing old photos and music. I plan on making lists at some point, lots and lots of lists, but I haven’t even begun thinking about the lists. I’m watching the birds dig around in the wasteland that is our back garden in winter. They’re sending dead leaves and wet twigs everywhere.

My books for next term arrived yesterday. I’m quite excited to read W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, but otherwise I’m unimpressed. Beloved I read years and years ago and despised. I hope I was wrong about it, that I was just being a snotty teenager, but as I recall, my general impression was, why does Toni Morrison have to write like this?

I’m digging KCRW this morning. My tea is just the right drinking temperature and I’m bobbing my head around to the Dandy Warhols and Loudon Wainwright, and Michael Franti. Not the most promising way to start a day meant to be rife with accomplishment, but good fun anyway. I’ll check back later.

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Still suffering from A Cold. Here’s what I have done today:

  • Slept well past noon;
  • Cycled into town to deliver clean trousers to The Man, who got his muddy this morning whilst chasing a dog (who was chasing a chicken) through a country garden;
  • Cycled home and collapsed on the sofa feeling sorry for myself;
  • Heated up some canned soup for lunch;
  • Watched many episodes of this seasons’ Spooks even though I’ve already seen them because a) I can’t be bothered to find something new on television that actually interests me and because b) as the Guardian’s “Chart of Lust” rightly pointed out recently, women everywhere are developing an obsession with Richard Armitage, and his nose, and the absurdly cool spy he plays. I’ve got a cold and midwinter angst; I’m allowed a small celebrity crush. Deal with it.
  • Realized that the show called MI5 that I used to watch back in the days when my parents had a TV and I was trying to avoid my AP calculus homework is, in fact, simply Spooks re-named for an American audience;
  • Had a long bath whilst listening to Classic FM’s Smooth Classics at 6; “your relaxation station.” Considered being embarrassed by this; thought better of it;
  • Made something that resembled dinner out of pasta, half an onion, a huge clove of garlic, a carrot, and some cheese. Neglected to clear anything up after;
  • Wondered if all this time alone in the house is making me a little crazy;
  • Listened to the same Goo Goo Dolls song about twelve times in a row whilst perusing www.dooce.com
  • Decided that I am definitely going a little crazy.

Note the absence of having got any work done. Or, for that matter, any Christmas shopping. I keep thinking that I’ll start feeling really Christmas-y soon and start looking forward to my favourite holiday with fresh zeal, but for some reason every time I think about it all that happens is that I get unnaturally exited for the fact that I’ll have a whole week off work. I want to be able to sleep in with my love and wake up and have bacon and eggs, and mungle around the house with neither of us having to go to work, or get work done; it’s the prospect of that which excites me.

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  • Spend more than a half hour at any time away from my new favorite couch in the lounge
  • Clear out the kitchen for the painters tomorrow
  • Read Jane Austen
  • Read anything
  • Write
  • Go for a run
  • Go for a walk
  • Do the dishes
  • Fold the laundry
  • Look at my to-do list
  • Take a long, lazy bath
  • Go round to the shop to buy a bottle of wine

Things I have successfully done:

  • Listened to the same music over and over again
  • Nearly cried over an episode of Gossip Girl
  • Thought about how lazy I’m being
  • Eaten dinner
  • Answered the door once (next-door-neighbors letting us know about a party tomorrow)
  • Fallen asleep on the couch at an awkward angle, leaving my neck sore
  • Wondered whether or not I’m suffering from a temporary sort of ennui, or at least having a minor existential crisis, as everything just seems to difficult to bother with…
  • Wondered whether or not I can be bothered to go upstairs and get into bed or not

…and when I say “tried to do” I mostly mean “thought about doing”.

Oh boy, it’s half term…

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