Daily checklists [EXPERIMENT]

Ben Holt writes Simple Challenges, a blog about life experiments and related ideas. In one of the first posts I read of his, he wrote, “If I’m procrastinating, it’s most often because I only have a vague idea of what I should be working on, not something concrete.”

That struck a chord with me, as he might say.

I seems accurate to say that I procrastinate when I don’t have a clearly defined next step. Like maybe I’m more likely to put off writing a huge paper than washing the dishes not because washing dishes is easier but because I know how to start that project.

That’s the hypothesis anyway. I’d like to test it.

For the next, say, four weeks, I’m going to make a checklist each day with items to complete. I’m going to try to keep each item on the list as simple as possible so I know how to start each of them (or if I don’t know, I’ll include an item like “Figure out how to start _____.”)

Beyond the connection with procrastination, I’m interested in this experiment because of the current trend toward living with no goals. I can see how living that way would work in the short-term, but I’m super skeptical about it in the long-term. I feels more like a way to catch my breath than a way to continue breathing.

But we’ll see. That’s the fun of experiments. Maybe I’ll realize my daily checklists really don’t help me and just create more stress. Maybe I’ll realize it’s better to live without goals altogether.

Whichever way it turns, I’m looking forward to tracking the progress.

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