The Thesis Whisperer recommends breaking items down and using a verb so that they are actionable. Becky Tench describes how she writes her to-do items as intentions with context and in the past tense.
I want to take the best of both ideas. I’m going to try out writing in the past tense as a suggestion to enable my future self to make their decision about what is best to do in the circumstances they are in at the time. I’ll make sure there is a verb so that it is clear what present me meant when they wrote the memo.
This should help with the following problems I’ve had with to-do lists in the past:
– They can be bossy.
– They can be soulless, turning interesting jobs into a list of chores.
– I don’t like deleting things. It can feel like a failure to achieve a goal.
– Things can have changed since I wrote the list.
– My health varies so much.
– I rarely complete a list.
– I feel overwhelmed and anxious about the number of tasks.
Mewburn, Inger. ‘How to Stop “Flipping” (and Write a Good to-Do List)’. The Thesis Whisperer (blog), 7 March 2017. https://thesiswhisperer.com/2017/03/08/how-to-stop-flipping/.
Tench, Beck. 2019. ‘Kinder To Do Lists’. I Am Beck Tench (blog). 2019. https://www.becktench.com/blog/2019/5/13/kinder-to-do-lists.