A long time ago I heard a very funny comedian joking about her to-do list. She had somehow stumbled across an old one from several years prior and it was all the same stuff, laundry, bank, clean, cat manicure, etc. Her takeaway was that it's all just the same old shit, over and over again. Mine was that we’re all just a few thousand to-do list away from the one big cosmic thing we all have to do, which is one good thing about being dead. You can finally relax about that damn list.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a good to-do list and I get that little grown-up rush of crossing each thing off as I complete the associated task, especially if it's something particularly odious or anxiety producing. When we cross things off over our lists we get a little hit of dopamine, which is like crack for responsible grown ups. Taking a responsible action is good. Keeping track of all that responsible action is good. And making satisfying little check marks is good. But the design of the typical to-do list could definitely be improved upon. It's so linear and rigid, rewarding linear, rigid thinking and doing. The average to-do list needs a makeover!
Of course nobody says it has to be that way, that’s just the way it's always been. We have been trained to create utilitarian to-do’s because it's best not to waste time. Also the good people of the world should hurry up and get it all done so we can get going on the list so we can hurry up and get going on the next one? And the next one? And the next one. Heavy sigh.
While traveling to a very relaxing place recently I was inspired to create a new kind of list. In this place people don’t seem in such a hurry (they are definitely not in a hurry to turn left at stop lights). I think some of them might not even have lists. They might just be winging it and doing stuff intuitively or just doing things in a more relaxed, less anal way. This situation I found initially interesting, then annoying, then inspiring.
I decided to make a to-do list that reflected the state of mind I wanted to cultivate, loose, creative and not rush, rush, rush. I’m not quite ready to go to-do-less, but I can definitely mix things up with a to-doodle.
Here is my “before” to-do list in all its drab, utilitarian glory:
Here is my “after” to-do list (post-makeover):
What makes the new list fun:
- Happy faces to calm me down when I realize I have 4,321 things to do.
- Different shapes and directions to help me think in different ways and bust ruts!
- Silly little drawings to remind that life is supposed to be fun.
- The chance to think about my tasks visually.
- The chance to doodle and dream a bit before I get down to the business of to-doing.
- Which to-do list would you like to meet first thing in the morning before you’ve had your coffee?
Of course your to-doodle might not be quite so goofy. I am half clown. But I bet its gonna be unique, interesting and cool and if you find it in 5 years it will be a sweet reminder of what you were up to. You might think my past self was pretty groovy to have made something so off the wall, yet still on point for a world with clean underwear. And if you’re still on the fence about it just write it on the top of your current to-do list. Now its official bizziness and not just silly fun. Let’s to-doodle!
PS: If you're wondering about the bottom left of my to-doodle, wonder no more!