After I almost missed a dentist appointment on Tuesday, I've implemented a new task organization system, my third this year. I was sitting at a cafe with my friend Sarah and admiring her beautiful calendar: she keeps the handwriting tiny and neat, the tasks are color coded and prioritized in columns by days of the week, and there's also room for sketches and pretty little drawings in the margins. Sarah's calendar is an imprint of a beautiful mind, a mind that knows what her priorities are and sees a clear path to achieve them.
I wanted to have that -- I yearned for it. So I came home, and pulled out the smallest blank journal I had, and used my tiniest handwriting to enter the tasks that came to mind. Write a story. Read this, this, and that. Write a story. Edit. Revise. Do dishes. Revise, edit. Turn off the heater before I leave for China. Vote. Revise.
This is the second time I've almost missed a dentist appointment this year. In the spring, I missed one by fifteen minutes, but they called, and I said I'll be right there in five minutes, and they said okay, just be here quick, and I made it in ten minutes. This time, I was still in bed, reading a novel when they called. I couldn't have taken a shower and brushed my teeth and gotten dressed in ten minutes. The thought flashed through my head when I saw the caller ID. Luckily, this time they called ahead -- to tell me that they were running ten minutes behind. I made it with minutes to spare.
The problem with keeping task lists is that if I don't want to do something, I'm not going to do it, no matter how many times I have to carry the task over from one page of my calendar to another. I'm much more likely to abandon the journal (so new, so attractive today) because I can't face all the tasks I'm carrying over. Task lists intimidate. They scare the hell out of me. The failures embodied by a task list dwarf all possible future and past accomplishments.