Feb 032013
 

Apps like “Manga Cam” are the diligent enemies of to-do lists.

As an ADHD personality, (I know some of you don’t believe that such a thing really exists and that the evil pharmaceutical companies made up the “illness” to sell drugs, but the sheer fact of the length of this side note should be convincing enough to you that some people really really do have a near impossible time not wandering all to hell with their thoughts and actions..) my usual methodology for preparing for and accomplishing anything looks like this:

Sit down. Think of what I need to do. Look at my phone to see how much time I have. Notice I have a text  message. Reply (with heavy emoticon usage, all carefully chosen). Enter text conversation. Bring up Imgur on the computer screen while texting. Say goodbye by text. Imgur. Imgur. Imgur. Begin actual process of doing something. Decide I need to do some research  about what I’m doing. Bring a page or two up online. Clip it all to Springpad to read later. Imgur. Get up and make coffee. Rejoin text conversation. Imgur. Imgur. Clip toenails cause my toes feel tender. Imgur. Give up and put it on a Springpad list to do later. Ignore Springpad for next couple of weeks. 

You get the idea. I don’t focus well. I’m distractible and disorganized in my approach, unless I craft a grand master plan with daily acknowledgeable packages of activities. I’ve been a “victim” of the to-do list mentality in the past. It has worked against me. I learned that the second I wrote something down on paper, I considered it “handled” in my own mind and promptly forgot to even check the damn to-do list. Ever. I could only remember to do things if they were at the crisis level of necessity to accomplish, ex., the power is turned off because I didn’t pay the electric bill. Instead of just coming to hate and judge myself over the course of my lifetime for not functioning well in a methodical world, I learned a few things about how my head and enthusiasm levels work and re-embraced the to-do list, with a few tweaks and accommodations. I have a 5 month thru-hike in front of me and can’t just walk out the door one day. So here’s how I tackle the creation of a usable to-do list for myself:

GRAND POO-BAH GOAL: PACIFIC CREST TRAIL THRU-HIKE IN 2013!

Now, I’ve already mentioned that things have to appear to be a crisis to me in order for me to attend to them, so my goal with creating a to-do list is to create a bunch of crisis’. Also,  I’ve divided things up into immersion chunks instead of incremental chunks, meaning, I’m only creating one LARGE task for me to focus on in any given time, instead of incremental baby steps for many different large tasks that at some far off towards the rainbow future will add up to meeting the poo-bah goal. In my 2013 Thru-hike list it looks like this:

  • JANUARY: Gear month. All gear choices made and ordered. 
  • FEBRUARY: Resupply month. Get a plan, make contacts, draw up a mailing list 
  • MARCH: My life without me month. Pack up the house, put cards on autopay, go to the dentist, fix car, etc.
  • APRIL: Test gear, hike all day, get flipping excited month! You’re off!
Underneath those broad headings are of course the very specific tasks, but what makes them do-able for me is that my monthly quests are very easy to remember, absorption oriented, and I truly feel like I have to accomplish the quests in one month’s time. If I sit down to the computer and only have to think “resupply”, and not “resupply, maps, training, gear, and debt payments”, I can easily pick up from where I left off and really feel like I’m accomplishing something.
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At the gut of the soul baseline of all these required accomplishments, is the imperative to train and feel good. Every single day, not as an accomplishable goal, but as the beginning of the lifestyle, I require that I train, ie., stay physically active, eat well, meditate, and enjoy the life situations in front of me today. You know, be here now. I know the “trail” isn’t going to make me any happier than I am standing in my own life in society (Well it might a little, but I’ve seen people excel at bringing their habits of misery right onto that trail). Accomplishing anything  isn’t going to make me any happier. Happiness is a skill exercise that I’d love to have fully honed before I walk out the door in April. And it’s pretty damn accessible right this very second. When I feel good, everything’s good. And that’s the Grand Poo-bah Goal above all goals, including the PCT Thru-hike in 2013. And the trick to getting myself to stay on top of that focus and those activities is routine. I make it who I am and not what I am doing. It’s simply not a to-do list endeavor.
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  One Response to “Manufacturing A Usable To-Do List”

  1. When I have absolutely no time to do anything, I can clear piles of stuff and be incredibly productive.
    But give me a week to do one minor little chore requiring twenty minutes of concentration, it will never get done.
    You need to be nagged. Or start your preparation wit one month to go.
    :-)

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