Friday, February 18, 2005

To-Did List

Cousin of the to-do list, the to-did list is, as you might expect, a list of things that one has done. I began keeping one a couple of years ago, when I was slipping into depression. I was looking for a part-time job and trying to do freelance journalism, and not having any luck with either. Although I worked hard, sending out resumes and pitching articles, at the end of the day I had nothing to show for my labors. So when I crossed items off my to-do list, instead of consigning them to limbo, I began adding them to a "to-did" list.

At first the to-did list didn’t help much. In fact, it made things worse, reminding me how much work I was doing to get nowhere. But at least it distracted me from my to-do list. It stopped me from fretting about the future, about the seeming impossibility of the things I wanted to accomplish. Instead, I concentrated on completing whatever small task was at hand, in order to shift it to my to-did list. And then, because I was more focused, I began to get things done. I started to sell articles and I got the part-time job I needed. But that’s not really the point. The power of the to-did list is that it enforces a Zen-like focus on the now, the task at hand, the sentence on the page, the sweet spot that lies somewhere between the to-do and the to-did.


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