Having a “To-Do” list is great and can be a boon to productivity if you nurture it. You have to prioritize, and then re-prioritize daily. You have to be ruthless in saying “No” to requests that have no business on your plate and in pruning your list when a task becomes unnecessary or undesirable.
Even with all this list farming, though, things can get stale and good stuff can fall through the cracks.
Farm Your To-Do List
Take a look at your “To-Do” list right now
It’s probably as long as a Stephen King novel and has items on there that you really want to do but that are buried beneath the things that became more urgent somehow. At the rate you’re going, you’ll never get to those gems, and you’ll be mired in the daily grind of whatever your daily grind is. Maybe you’ll occasionally knock off a few items from the top of your list, but that’s about it.
For the most part, that approach keeps you on track.
But if you want a break from the monotony and a chance to tackle something that’s important to you but that may not be urgent … randomize!
Shake It Up — for One Day
By “randomize” I mean take your writing “To-Do” list, or your mental writing “To-Do” list, and pick an item at random one morning. That day, you’re going to work on that item until it’s done or until your creative day ends.
How you randomize is up to you: roll a dice, close your eyes and point, number your tasks and use a random number generator to pick one. You might consider eliminating the top 10 or so items on your list from consideration because the goal here is to get you working on something you normally wouldn’t touch for awhile.
The potential benefits of randomization run the gamut from combating boredom to shrinking your “To-Do” list by one to reconnecting you with something you love to do but have let slide in the face of other pressures.
The potential pitfalls are that you’ll punt a day of work at the top of your list, and you may be inclined to branch off more fully into whatever new endeavor your randomization lands you in. Fight this urge and get back to your tried-and-true prioritized list the next day, and you’ll be fine on both counts.
Of course, it could be that this exercise will reveal, or remind you of, priorities that you hadn’t considered before (or for awhile).
Either way, this type of “controlled randomness” can do wonders for your state of mind and your overall writing productivity.
Do you ever go off-list in your writing? Tell me about it in the comments below.