The other day I had the opportunity to talk with Ricё for an upcoming podcast, and she asked me what my typical day looked like. It isn’t a hard question, but it did take me by surprise a bit. Truthfully, I’ve never really thought about what my days entail. I do what needs to be done and often bemoan all that I didn’t manage to get done. (Don’t we all?)
Yesterday, still intrigued by the question, I really thought about my daily actions as I went through them. And you know what? It was pretty telling. Before really thinking about it, in my mind my days go something like this: Wake up, drive to work, answer emails, take phone calls, edit articles, sort artwork, answer more emails, drive home, eat dinner, think about everything I didn’t get done, and then go to bed. When we think of our days in such a systematic way, we don’t give ourselves enough credit for all that we do accomplish because we have trouble seeing past what we didn’t accomplish on our to-do lists.
That’s why I’m starting to keep a “done” list. So much of what I do on a daily basis doesn’t even appear on my list. Random things pop up all the time: cover decisions, design ideas, impromptu meetings . . . They appear, they get done. Sure, it’s nice to be able to check off items as we complete them, but consider doing this: Write tasks you need to complete on small Post-its and place them on a plain sheet of paper. This is your to-do list. Pull out another sheet of paper. This will be your “done” list. Make it fancy. Pretty it up. As you finish a task, move it from “to-do” to “done.” Create new Post-its for all the items that popped up during the day that you tackled. Put those on the “done” list, too.
I realize it’s a lot of work to do this on a daily basis. (And who needs more work to do?) But if you’re someone like me and never feel like you’re getting enough done each day, I recommend trying it for a couple days. You’ll be surprised at how much you really do get done each day, and you’ll begin to value even the smallest of tasks.
Christen Olivarez is Director of Publishing for Stampington & Company and Editor-in-Chief of Somerset Studio, the top-ranked magazine for mixed-media and paper artists. Her blog posts appear on CreateMixedMedia.com every other Tuesday.
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