Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back To Your Planner

Back in February, I decided to ditch an enormous time suck. I got rid of my To Do list. Very liberating. For the important stuff, I kept appointments in Google Calendar. At work, I still had a daily to-do list. The system lasted until early August. After all, my only college class was the capstone for my associates degree. My capstone project was an app I developed for work. So, I had no reason to track homework since homework was showing up for work and getting paid to write an application.

And then I started on my bachelors degree. Hoo boy! At the very least, I need to keep track of assignments. And there are plenty. I also want to squeeze in a new programming language, plan my writing projects and even plan ahead on the blog. So back came the to-do list.

And back came its bad habits. One morning at work, I thought, “I’ll just plan ahead a little bit.” The phone interrupted me. I had managed to get to Thanksgiving (This was the last week in September.) The clock revealed that I’d spent 30 minutes on planning what domestic projects, exercise routines, and even books I would read. Ouch.

I still need the list. Limited to two or three weeks, I can map out the multiple assignments for college, writing projects, and domestic projects. Three weeks is about my outer limit. I have to be able to change things around quickly. Why? Life – that thing that happens while you’re planning? – doesn’t care what’s on your to-do list. Life happens. You get sick. The car breaks down. You need a lazy day or two. You’re not going to finish 100 pages a day in every book.

I still have a love-hate relationship with the to-do list. In fact, after I finish this post, I get to tick off an item on the list. I think that’s why the list is so addictive. I don’t necessarily want to plan. I want to tick off items.

I just have to quit adding items when they’re not needed. No wonder some management gurus hate them.