The “Not To Do” List
reminds me of my vices
so I stay on track.
I woke up this morning with this haiku in my head. Or rather, I half-awoke and tried to awaken the rest of my mind by pondering the haiku that I was going to twitter when I started work for the day, and this is what came out.
I was hoping to be inspired to focus on my thesis today, and this idea of a “Not To Do” list seemed like one good enough to try. I’ve had success with such a list in the past, because it really did remind me that I specifically told myself I wouldn’t do certain things that day. Lately, my main problem has been avoiding the things I really shouldn’t be doing, and this approach lets me tackle that problem directly.
Naturally, the first thing that should be on the list is to not even visit the admin area of this blog, and so I’ve already broken it. But I have an excuse! (I always do…) This morning, when writing my “Not To Do” list on a piece of paper from my “blank-backed printer-paper” folder, I ran out of room. Continuing on another page would have been inefficient, and rewriting the whole thing in a smaller font would have been a waste of time. So I’m typing it. Reasonable so far, yes?
I also thought that, perhaps, this list might be useful to people other than myself. I’m sure that most of us chronic procrastinators have found ourselves falling victim to any number of these tasks, and I’m also sure that it couldn’t be a fluke that this approach has worked for me in the past.
Lastly, I figure that by posting this on my blog, I’ll get reminded of it if I happen to find myself inadvertently drawn to check in on the blog when I really shouldn’t. So there’s really many good reasons to outweigh the fact that I’m procrastinating by posting this here! (Isn’t there?)
So here we go, the list itself. I apologize that everything is just in point form without links to the things I’m avoiding, but if I included links, this list would turn into a portal of doom rather than a helpful guide.
The “Not To Do” list
- writing a blog entry (oops!)
- WordPress tweaks/plugins
- blog stats / feedburner / Google Webmaster Tools
- twitter / twemes
- Google Reader
- Wikipedia – use with caution (I really can’t avoid going here entirely, but I have to be careful to stay on topic!)
- The Journal – use with caution (I track a lot of different things in The Journal, and must be careful not to stray to the stuff that is not relevant to my work)
- Firefox plugins
- cleaning instead of working
- photos / Picasa / flickr
- searching for podcasts or other music (stick to SomaFM.com and all is good!)
- making complicated food items (e.g. baking bread, or having too much fun making meals for myself)
- going shopping / running errands when they really could wait until another time
- going for a long walk or bikeride (short is okay, good for the health and all that, but I must not get carried away and be gone for hours!)
- processing and organizing tasks from my Task Inbox instead of actually Getting Things Done
- in fact, doing anything from my To Do list that is not rated with Importance = 11 … (yes, Toodledo goes up to 11!!)
This last thing made me realize that, maybe, I can use my To Do list as a buffer for those things that I “want to do” but need help in resisting doing immediately. If I add it to the list, I can let Toodledo calculate its Importance, which is done using a bunch of different things including due date, how long it’s been on the list, as well as the user’s choice of priority setting. It’s pretty cool. The best part? The ONLY thing that has an Importance of 11 is the current section I’m working on for my thesis. So technically, that’s the ONLY thing I should be focusing on.
And how true it is!
Anyways, my timer just went off, reminding me that I’ve now spent two 15-minute sessions writing this entry. Not horribly bad, but I need to make sure I spend as many 15-minuteses on my thesis as possible today, so I’ve gotta move along now. Cheers~!
EDIT: I just found something I’m sure I’ve read before, and I think it was where I got the idea originally. This particular Not To Do list might be meant to be funny, but for those of us who are easily distracted, it’s also quite poignant at the same time.