At the beginning (or end) of a day, if you’re like me, you use lists and mental notes to keep track of all the things you have to do. After years of “listing” I’ve come to realize that there’s really three parts of every to-do list:
- Must do’s: Things you have to do that are mundane or tedious (like doing laundry or paying bills) and are time-sensitive;
- Will do’s: Things you have to do in the coming days (for me it’s things like completing an article or creating a workshop) that are movable throughout the week; and
- Dust do’s: Things that come and go on the list and gather “dust” because they’re not going to get done anytime soon (like replacing the trim on my doors due to dog damage, or confronting someone who promised me something that they have not yet done).
And I do realize that if I had a significant other, there would be a 4th category: the Honey Do’s (the things that need to be done that your “Honey” should/could/would do), but since I don’t we’ll ignore that one!
It’s the third type, the Dust Do’s, that often take up a lot of unnecessary real estate in our heads and take away from our productivity. Dust Do’s symptomize Procrastination and drag our past unwittingly into our future – where we can end up holding onto negative emotional baggage for months, and sometimes even years! The Dust Do’s are typically things that we’ve put aside several times in the past due to them either being too large, too expensive, too difficult, too emotionally draining, or we’ve just plain gotten used to living with not doing the task. But, I contest that if we could remove just one item from the Dust Do list a week, we’d be healthier, happier and more productive! As a nation of procrastinators, we often spend more time talking (and bemoaning) the item on the list than it would take to actually do it and put it into the past! And we become procrastination enablers of others who involve us in their own procrastination.
Let me give you an example: Following my divorce, my ex-husband was tasked with securing a legal financial document and after a multi-year delay, his lawyer finally submitted court documents that the judge asked to be rewritten. The procrastination continued for another year as the lawyer did not complete her duties and I took action myself. I finally realized that the ensuing delays and the fact that this task was still on the list for completion (it is money he gets from my retirement) was keeping me stuck in the past. This past December, I again went to court, incurred expenses to do the work that his lawyer was tasked to do, and finally got things done. With this task almost in the past, I know that having it off of my Dust Do’s will lift a burden which has far too long been inflicting a toll.
The motto of this posting – Dust off the “Dust Do’s” from your to-do list and get them done! And soon your life will be moving forward with new vigor – instead of being dragged into the past by tasks that should have been completed long ago.
Have a good week!
Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.
Read Carol Dekkers’ other blog (Musings about Software Development) at http://musingsaboutsoftwaredevelopment.wordpress.com
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