Daily checklist [EXPERIMENT] – Weeks 3 and 4

There’s more than one way to check items off the list.

One way, the most common way, is to actually complete the task. The other way, the less obvious approach, is to purposely make a decision to not do it. Most of the time, if items don’t get done, it’s because I put them off for so long that I just can’t ever get around to them. Sometimes, though, it’s a smart move to simply make a cut purposely. I’ve been exercising this approach lately.

I’ve found that weighing the options and then purposely cutting an item out of my schedule sometimes feels just as satisfying as actually completing the task.

The other realization I’ve had over the past couple weeks is that if I start the day by getting something done that’s not on the list, even if it’s just a little thing, I try to include it on my list after the fact and then cross it off.

This accomplishes two things. First, it provides a record at the end of the day of what I actually did. That way, even if I don’t get around to doing what I thought I wanted to do for whatever reason, I still can look back and see that I did something. And I can make further decisions and adjustments on that in the future.

Second, it provides added motivation, momentum really, to knock out the other tasks. When I look down and see I’ve checked off two or three items already, it’s much easier to tackle the next one. On the other hand, if I spend some effort in the beginning of the day doing something that never makes the list, then by the time I turn to the list, I’m spent – because I’ve already done something – but don’t have anything to show for it on the list.

So yeah, those are two observations from the past two weeks. At this point, I think the experiment has officially concluded. I’m going to try to keep up the habit of using checklists, though, because once again I’ve found that they help me a lot, at least for now.