How I checked 21 tasks off my To-Do list in a day

Step 1: Write down each task you want to accomplish. This doesn’t mean writing down each end goal you want. I wanted all the laundry done, but I didn’t write that down as a task. I wrote down, “Wash first load of laundry, dry first load of laundry, fold and put away first load of laundry, wash second load of laundry,” and so on. The lesson here is that if I want to accomplish a lot, and I have to a) break each goal down into actionable tasks instead of listing them as goals and expecting them to get done and b) write them down.

Step 2: Sort the list into a meaningful order. I chose to tackle the outside tasks first, one after another, instead of trying to go outside separately for each of them or somehow leaving them until the end of the day when it’s dark. More important than batching or sequencing, I think, though, is that by putting them in order up front, I could immediately transition one to the next without wasting mental energy deciding what to do next after each task was accomplished. It’s a lot easier to put everything in order up front than to rely on my lazy brain once the action gets going. Had I sorted through the list after each task was complete, I bet I would have stopped sooner – the mental energy of deciding would have worn my out before I physically wore out.

Step 3: Do each task one after another without breaks. The idea behind all these steps is to separate thinking from doing. If I start thinking while I’m doing, more often than not, my brain comes up with some excuse not to keep going. I think of another task to accomplish, something else more important, or I get bogged down trying to decide what to do next or even to continue at all. Once I’m in the doing stage – this step 3 here – it’s head down, just doing. I’ve already taken care of all the thinking (and put it in writing so I don’t have to rethink it). There’s a reason Nike says, “Just do it.”

Most of what I write isn’t made up

Most of what I write are ideas that were born somewhere else.

Yesterday, I wrote about trying not to use the phrase “to be honest.” I didn’t come up with that on my own. My parents told me that.

A few days back, I wrote about Swiss cheese and how we often make generalizations about groups of things based on a minority within those groups. I got that from a girl who made a video about homeschoolers.

But I’ve been doing this kind of thing for years. There might be a few unique ideas out there, but most of them are born elsewhere. Most of the time, I’m taking an idea someone else had and doing one of the following:

  1. Just passing it on as is.
  2. Adding to it / taking it further than the original person did.
  3. Applying it to a different issue.
  4. Combining it with another idea (also often from someone else)

I watched a video recently where two guys were talking about how they built their YouTube business. They said everyone is trying to come up with the next original, viral video. What we’ve done is find the videos that are already going viral and combining the concepts with other viral video concepts. That way, we know there’s a market for it already.

For instance, if they see that Star Wars is coming out with a new movie at the same time that Taylor Swift is releasing a new album around Christmas time, they might do a video dressed as Kylo Ren singing “Look What You Made Me Do” to Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer.

Actually, isn’t that exactly what Jimmy Fallon does on his show, cross pollinate like that, especially with skits like hisĀ Wheel of Musical Impressions?

Combining ideas like this, repurposing ideas, taking them further, applying them to different contexts – none of this is new. It’s how everyone works.

Speaking of different contexts, I likeĀ Taylor Mali’s line, something like, “Show all your work in math class and then hide it in your English papers.”

What I mean to say is “frankly”

There’s this phrase, “To be honest.”

I try not to use that phrase.

Was I not honest before? Am I just now turning a new page toward truth? Hopefully, I was telling the truth before. Hopefully, I’m honest all the time, so what I mean is, “Frankly.”

“Frankly” implies that I’m about to be blunt with what I say. And that’s fine. We all realize that most communication isn’t completely blunt. If it were, that last sentence would have said, “Communication isn’t blunt.”

In many Asian languages, they have different levels of politeness that conjugate words differently. They use different words – different endings, different forms of words – depending on how formal the situation requires.

In English, we have different levels of politeness. We just don’t conjugate differently (for the most part). As a buddy of mine, a fellow English teacher in South Korea, once told me, we add more words when we want to be polite. So “Pass the gravy” turns into “Martha, may I please have some gravy?” and “Yo bud” turns into “Excuse me, please, sir.”

The blunt versions are the first ones, the shorter ones, the ones that get the point across immediately but lack the tact of a more formal situation.

It’s not that the second forms, the longer more polite forms, are any less honest. It’s just a different type of communication.

That’s why I try to use “frankly” instead of saying “to be honest.” What I’m trying to signal is that I’m about to change forms of communication, not the content.

« Older | Newer »