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  • Writer's pictureMichael Cundall Jr.

Have Fun with Your To Do List

One of the ideas I constantly tell people to play with is finding incongruities or play around with the day to day things in their lives. One of the easiest ways to start is to find something that makes pretty regular appearances in your life. Perhaps it’s the TPIP Report made famous by the movie Office Space, or maybe it’s something else. I once had a job that used bubble sheets for reporting hours. I don’t know your workday routines so what that thing might be is lost on me, but one thing that I know very well is the To-Do List. Ever since I worked in the kitchen back in Dudley’s Restaurant in Lexington, KY, the To-Do List has been an ever present work companion. It’s gone through various iterations over time. I even tried foregoing it for a while. Total disaster.

I’ve tried notebooks, digital lists, asking Google to make a list, etc. The most reliable for me has been writing stuff down. Typing them in an app has never had the same effect. But recently I have adopted the bullet journal method of list making. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this mutant, chock-full-o-steroids form of the To-Do List, but it’s impressive. Like anything else, there is no shortage of variations and notebooks, pens and other accoutrements for this muscular approach to sheer personal production. While I have found the bullet journal helpful, I am not over the top with it.

So what does humor have to do with To=Do Lists? They’re not particularly funny. As I was thinking about my new mutation, umm, I mean approach to getting things done I put the idea of a To Do List together with the idea of gratitude. Gratitude lists, while great, aren’t nearly as popular as the To Do List. The idea behind gratitude is to remind us of the good things that have happened to us or that we’ve experienced. I recommend it if you haven’t tried it. It does bring a smile to my face, reminds me to appreciate the people in my life, and helps me feel more connected. In this time of the COVID-Life connectedness is important.

So what did I come up with? As I was thinking about gratitudes, getting things done with my bullet journal by my side, (I get to cross off a thing in writing this post too--bonus), I was sort of poking fun at the lists that I have. There are a few. I have my woodshop list, my work list, my chores list. As I was laughing (in my head) at the ridiculousness of it all, and sort of making fun of myself for my dedication, I was struck with the idea of the “Ta-Da” List or perhaps the “To-Done” List. It’s a sort of celebration of all those things we get done or marked off those lists. It’s a practice of self-gratitude I guess. But the fun of it, the play, the use of incongruity, was my taking the old showman’s trick of announcing “Ta-Da” and riffing on it to create a new list. The irony of a new list isn’t lost on me. Instead of writing a list of all that I need to do—a list that will never end—I present myself with a list of the things that I did accomplish. It feels good to look back on a week or a month or even a day and see what I’ve done. Instead of seeing the hills ahead, I look at the road behind me and all that I’ve done. It’s nice. Not every day is filled with the fully completed list, or with monumental accomplishments, but reminding myself of what I’ve done, applauding the Ta-Da is a good motivator.

Whatever you want to call your accomplishment list, Ta-Da or To-Done, it’s a good practice. And those names came from me playing and making fun in a lighthearted way the notion of a To Do List. It’s been a nice addition to my routine. I don’t do it all the time, but I do use it. If I was a manager perhaps instead of asking for a list of things accomplished, I’d ask for the Ta-Da list. I’d like those who work with me to think of their work in this celebratory way. It will help us to feel some joy in the accomplishments and remind us that we’re not defined by what we’re going to do. We’re defined by what we’ve done and the way in which we’ve done it. Take a moment, take a lot of moments, and Ta-Da your achievements.

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