Finally stopped re-writing a fresh task list every day

Posted on May 10, 2019

I can’t stress enough to myself how corrosive the daily re-writing of — and never finishing — a complete “today’s tasks” list was, now that I’ve tried bullet journal rapid logging and leaving tasks undone until they’re done. That daily exercise of the fresh page and the re-copied list sure felt good every morning when I was clear-headed and optimistic. And then it reliably turned into an unachievable burden that was rarely consulted again later in the day. By the end of the day, it was just depressing; another 24 hours of failure to add to the pile of thousands of others before it. And even though it never worked, I felt even more unmoored if I forgot or didn’t make time to make the list in the morning! With the rapid log filled in as ideas come up, I’m always using and adding to the list, and also referring to the list just as often. I know I can’t do everything that occurs to me on any given day, so there’s way less (although not zero) pressure to get it done that day, and no feeling of failure. The feeling of accumulated failure may come at the beginning of the new month when I migrate the old undone tasks, but that’s only if I don’t cross out enough things, which by definition must not be that important if I never got around to them in the preceding month.

Note: All of the above is for personal, non-work tasks. For work tasks, I’m way too tightly wound and still cling to the unrealistic hope that I’ll get it all done every day. Clarification: This means that at work, I do a virtual version of the re-shuffling/refreshing of tasks using an outliner app. Today I have a heading for “Friday 2019-05-10” and I’ll slide anything down to today that really needs to get done and was left over from “Thursday 2019-05-09”. At work I also use the bullet journal format to capture stuff on paper in meetings or when I’m away from the computer, and most of those go into the digital outliner if they’re too involved to just knock out. So I’m just a bundle of awkward rules and processes.