A week of to-do lists
Yes, I am obsessive and compulsive about having my to-dos perfectly organized, and updated to the last second, I just can’t help.
And there’s more to that: I also take a compulsive pleasure from organizing my lists: I would rewrite them on paper when I am not on my computer, changing they way they’re phrased of them to upgrade them (OMG I talk about them as if they were people!).
I always try to put some apparent order in my to-dos (and fool myself I am progressing with them) by constantly refining and modifying how I phrase them.
So I decided to collect and represent all the changes I made on my to-do lists on my Evernote app (which is where I mostly keep and update my tasks…), grouping my todos by topic and reporting every single time I made a change, even a minor one, on my to do lists.
This week was incredibly insightful for me, probably because it touched a button that is kind of an obsession of mine.
I noticed that a lot of tasks I tell myself I am supposed to do just sit there for a long time, I tweak them but I honestly don’t do too much to write them off :(
Focusing my attention on that, I started to accept that some nagging tasks will never be crossed off my list!
The idea for the drawing came pretty straightforward to me - I really wanted to give Stefanie the idea of how many times I would just modify items without actually erasing them, and how many (oh boy!) tasks are just sitting there forever without any act.
This drawing is pretty simple, I guess everybody could execute it and derive it from similar data.
Hey you, data scared!
Oh - and there it is another insight! Dear Data proves to the "data-scared" that they shouldn't be, I guess - data is not necessarily big and complicated, and are potentially retrievable from any mundane tasks!
But also proves to the "I can't even draw a straight line" that they actually could: by approaching drawing in a "quantitative way" the fear of the white page should disappear, shouldn’it? (would love to get comments on this!).
The effect of “to-dos” week lingered long after the week was up, and I found myself noticing things around this topic even a lot after.
After this intense week I decided to simplify: I erased all of those notes that were just reminders of things I perfectly know I have to do even if I don’t see them written. (Thank you Dear Data!)
p.s. my postcard never got to Stefanie (where are you????) and I re-drew it and re-sent it a few weeks later
Generally, the way that I manage my to-do list is by writing it down in a notebook that I take everywhere with me. I prefer to create my to-do lists by hand instead of online because I like to really scribble out everything that I complete on the list quite violently because it makes me feel more like I've achieved something. (see below for an example of this). So, this card was tracking these action of adding tasks to the list and scratching them out.
Oh, not many memories worth writing here, as let's face it: to-do lists are only interesting to the person who has made them.
Looking back, the most mystifying task on the list might be:
- Look up ultrasonic anti-squirrel
It's mainly interesting because 'Ultrasonic Anti-Squirrel' would make an excellent band name, but really I was supposed to look up electronic deterrents for the cheeky squirrels who have taken residence in our attic. (note: this task was not ticked off the list, and the squirrels aren't leaving any time soon)
When drawing this card I realised that I never really complete
everything on my to-do list (except right before holidays, which is where the completely-crossed-out photo from below is from), but tend to maintain a sort of to-do equilibrium, where the tasks change, but never decrease in number.
Also, since I decided a couple of weeks ago to start working with pencils more, I've bought some lovely coloured pencils and this is the first time I've drawn with them.
I think that when I have new materials I focus on drawings where I can enjoy using those materials as opposed to making super-insightful drawings, and this was one of those moments: again, as with last week, I drew like this with a focus on drawing those swooping, knitted lines across the card.
Giorgia's card is just another reminder of how she has a proper job, and therefore has proper electronic ways of managing a to-do list.
It's also obvious that the items left on her list at the end of the week are definitely less than what she started with, regardless of how she thinks she doesn't get much done. I'm slightly re-considering this ridiculous idea of working on a collaborative project with someone who is so much more organised than I am!
Also, I love what Giorgia has written about drawing in a 'quantitative way': this is the reason I work with data in the first place! It means the data makes the visual decisions so I don't have to.