08 November 2013

To-Do Lists

Welcome back. Are you a list maker? I am and not only for my weekly trek for groceries (Food-Shopping Time). Even in retirement, I still make to-do lists, though they hardly qualify as lists anymore. I’m not obsessive about my lists. There are list makers who add a task after it’s complete just to cross it off. I’ve never done that; not intentionally anyway.

I suppose most people have to-do lists and their own way of making them. Before I retired I compiled a handwritten list every morning for that day and the immediate future, adding times if scheduling was a factor. I prioritized tasks by their order or, if certain tasks were particularly important, by flagging them with asterisks. If the day was going to be overwhelming, I numbered the tasks. 
Warren’s faithful notebook, used 24/7 for over
20 years for daily to-do lists and other notes.
(Yes, rescue tape was applied multiple times.)

Why am I rambling about list making? Because I saw a write up about a new, very cool way to list tasks. It’s not a new device or smartphone app; it’s the way one entrepreneur-author organizes her tasks. I thought you’d find it of interest, maybe even useful; definitely fun.

Emotional Tasking

Sharing her organizational skill last September (see my P.S.), Robyn Scott described how framing her to-do list in an emotional context--categorizing tasks by emotional responses--has made her more productive, happier and saner.

Although her category labels are continually evolving, examples she gave include: Triumphant, under which she files mission critical tasks; Massive Relief, which covers such tasks as completing a tax return; Basic Decency, thank you notes, keeping promises; and Fit for Battle, her daily run and meditation.

She feels the approach works because the emotional context conveys why to do a task, not just what to do. She’s also found that using dramatic labels makes her think twice before adding a task. Does it really deserve a place on her to-do list?

My Lists

Now I realize that my to-do lists were boring, filled almost entirely with work tasks. I never considered listing anything like exercise or eating, other than lunch meetings. Being endangered species, any social engagements were inscribed with a brightly colored felt-tip pen on the Realtor’s calendar on the frig, not on my to-do list.

All of my work tasks were all indubitably important and immeasurably fascinating; yet my emotional attachment to each was overwhelmingly trepidation about their completion, their only differentiation being when.

Looking back, I see that I would have been much more successful if I had put some oomph into my lists. Ms. Scott mentioned three other categories: Supremely Satisfying, Highly Helpful and Delight. I might have been able to use those, but I probably would have done better with Do or Die, Ahhh or Yes!

Wrap Up

What do you think? Are there emotional category labels that would make you more productive? Happier? I’ll pass on saner. Why don’t you add “Develop task category labels” to today’s to-do list? Let me know what you come up with.

Thanks for stopping by.


- Robyn Scott’s emotional tasking article: medium.com/p/a88ad971cef8
- Article by Herbert Lui that pointed me to Scott’s article:


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