Sunday, November 30, 2008

My experiments with 'To-Do Lists'

Anybody who knows me would know that most notebooks that belong to me have a to-do list drawn out on some corner or the other!!! And for those of you who don’t know that, you can take it from me that most of my notebooks, small bits of papers would definitely carry a to-do list!! Now, how many of these tasks get completed, how well they are completed are completely irrelevant to this discussion and not within the scope of this piece of literature, because invariably finishing of last week’s to-do list becomes the first item on my to-do list for the current week!!(Infact, to write this article has been on my to-do for the past ten days I guess!!!)
So....this entire love with to-do lists started a couple of years ago, when I attended an inspiring lecture on time management. The resource person made it sound as though to-do lists are the one stop solution for managing time effectively! That lady made it sound so simple that I decided I am going to apply the idea of making to-do lists to my life! At this juncture, I must mention that both my appa and amma manage their time so fabulously well, and that further inspired me to perfect the art of time management!!
I got myself a nice small notebook and started my first ever to-do list! After a couple of months (of failure, despite good intention and attempt), I sat down to understand why I was failing! I decided that I needed to be reminded constantly about the tasks and hence decided to buy myself a white board, and mount it on the wall. I went to Landmark and got myself a small whiteboard and dedicated it to to-do lists!! I started using the board to make my lists!! After a couple of months, I realised this was not a great idea.. !! Because it was too small!!I used it more to make designs and cartoons than write out to-do lists!!Moreover,the white board needed to be cleaned regularly (at times, cleaning the whiteboard itself was a part of the to-do list!!)
This was when I decided I needed to think of creative tailor made solutions for this to work for me!! I came up with the brilliant (or so it seemed!) idea of classifying to-do lists! I decided I would draw out separate to-do lists for personal work, academics, separate list for exercise and health, separate to-do lists for entertainment and fun! I was so proud of my idea and I immediately got a proper notebook and decided to make separate to-do lists!
Over a period of time, my sorting skills were sharpened and I could sort out my tasks with ease! They beautifully fit into the various genres of to-do lists (the tasks however remained incomplete.....sigh!) I ordered a soft board for my room and started using board pins to pin up my to-do lists (to increase visibility)!
Now, this caught the attention of several people and many of them were very impressed and inspired by this idea (it remained a well kept secret that, this idea of to-do list was not producing desired results!! Tasks never got completed and the task of making these lists by itself was time consuming!!!)
Over the years, I have tried various techniques like, making to-do grids to sort tasks into ‘urgent, not urgent, important, unimportant etc. I have tried to give priority ranks to the tasks!! I could no longer restrict myself to a notebook or any white board –I target any piece of paper I can lay my hands on!!!!At this juncture, I must stop to admit that there have been times, when I have spent time searching for the paper that has my list written (most times I’d never find it, sometimes I would find it in my room, sometimes in my friend’s notebooks, or my amma would have used it to dispose onion peels!) There have been times (very rarely though) when I have sat with two or three genres of to do lists and tried collating it all into one mega to-do list !!!!

Over these two years, I have understood the dynamics of to-do lists! The first 30% of the tasks get completed (not necessarily on time, but they do see completion) , about 50% of tasks move on to the next to-do list and the residual tasks either never get completed , or become unimportant or become a part of somebody else’s to-do list! Sometimes, when I feel like being very true to my conscience, I feel like calling it to-do circles or to-do cycles and not list because it moves in cycles!! Other times, these lists remind of the story that my Patti (animatedly) tells us, about hanuman’s tail growing really long to coil up to match Ravana’s throne height!! (I really can’t help draw similarities you know!!)
One of my good friends raised a genuine question, that me being a pathologically spontaneous creature, why and how I manage to make such lists and organise life? I shot back a grin and admitted that making to do lists seemed more spontaneously possible than doing actual task!! End of the day, at least I am glad I planned and I have the space to hope that sometime soon these tasks will be completed!!
Well, my experiments with these to-do lists still continue! At some level, I enjoy making them though I know they really don’t work!! But having come this far, to figure out the best way to make the lists, I am hopeful that someday I will figure out how to get them to work for me, in terms of time management and task completion!
If anybody out there, has better ideas of to-do lists or knows how to make them work, just leave a note for me! I will get in touch with you, we can meet and I can get gyaan from you! I mean, I’ll add this task to my to-do list, and when it sees the light of the day-we’ll meet ;)


G said...

I LOVE making to-do lists! I fail at following them though :] I remember people telling me that ou made lists all thro Reverbs :)

Nisha Subramaniam said...

:) and i still do!! To get on with some more posts for my blog has been in my list for a long time now... and today... finally made it happen :)