The painstaking task of managing a ‘to do’ list and a ‘to don’t’ list.

We’re all busy. Life is just that – busy. And most of us, as far as I’m aware, use to do lists to get us through the continual stream of stuff that being busy brings. Some are better at it than others.

How do I manage my busyness while running my business?

Mine is the to do list of a business owner who does all the marketing, selling, managing, finances, IT, cleaning and comedy. Especially comedy. So, I have two pads. One pad is for a daily to do list.  The other is a to do list that spans four years.

That’s right. Four years. I move ‘do’s’ from one to the other. I cross half a ‘to do’ task out when I’ve written an email but saved it in drafts. I write “To Do” at the top but never a date. I underline those two words to add gravitas. I bullet point and list them in order of importance – but then have to fill up the top line with very small writing as the urgency for things becomes heavy as the day goes on. What can I say, the nature of recruiting is often reactive as well as proactive. I cross out bullet points but not with one strike of the pen but four. I bold up surnames. I use a bold asterisk over the bullet point if it needs to be done right now (instead of just doing it).

In addition, in between my work to do’s I have action points for my children oriented tasks. “Go to uniform shop” and “Call the dentist”. I use exclamation marks so the ‘to do’ shouts at me to bloody well do it. This, I find, adds to the angst perfectly.

I survey my to do lists (both books) daily and even though they are in order of importance, as I’ve obviously prioritised everything already; I still make a choice of what I am going to do first.  And that usually depends on how neat the handwriting is. Some of my to do’s are to don’ts but I’ve just not added a negative to them, so I write a to do to remind myself that they are a definitely a don’t do.

My other book that has my objectives for the next four years is now a short novel.

I hear that some people can work, daily, even span decades without a list. They aren’t well in the head methinks. I’ve added a to do to my to do list to check out how they (to) do that. It’s got an asterisk and is in bold and everything.

An actual picture of me working on my to do lists.