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  • Diana Schneidman

Enliven your work!

Do you have certain tasks on your to-do list that never get done?

You copy them over from day to day or week to week. Or they sit on some master list for an eternity. Or they’re part of your annual plan though you know you’ll never get around to them.

Here’s an act of extreme bravery: Why not take them off the list?

Banish them. Or if necessary, relegate them to a special list of dead ideas that you can return to for reconsideration sometime in the future.

This is something I am trying to work with right now.

I practice one useful habit that is a little different from the “dead” list referred to above. It is an idea list. Whenever I see an ezine or blog or whatever with an idea I don’t want to lose, I record it in an ongoing Word document I have on my computer. Sometimes it’s a major concept, such as for a YouTube video or an idea for a book. Other times it’s a random website on which I could register my blog or a handy tool I could use to measure my Twitter presence. (These last ideas are also called BSOs, or Bright Shiny Objects.)

Once I save it there, I can delete it from my mind and feel confident that it is at hand if I ever look for it.

But that does nothing to delete all the tasks that never make it to the top of my daily schedule but make the mountain of chores ahead of me stack up before me like Everest.

So I’m trying to be more stalwart in crossing out whatever I can. Or adding them to the future to-do list so they no longer loom before me every day.

Some tasks seem dead because they’ve been sent to kill me, figuratively speaking.

For instance, I recently talked to a marcom executive at a major insurance company about freelancing for her. She didn’t have any upcoming needs but forwarded a link to the purchasing department’s database so I could fill out an online form and make myself known (supposedly) to anyone in the company who may need my services.

Dutifully I moved the duty forward on The List from day to day, putting it aside as a boring and pointless task. I don’t believe anyone looks at the database, and if someone does, I don’t believe he’d choose a writer or other freelancer from this cemetery.

After two weeks of ongoing postponement, I took the time to open the template. I filled out the form against my better judgment. Then I looked around to figure out how to save my response.

Couldn’t find anywhere to click.

My own darn fault for not opting out of this drudgery right from the start. I’ve applied to such corporate databases in the past and have never received any calls from them . . . ever.

This is quite different from working through record-keeping details with Accounting to assure payment for my work. When that’s the story, the client and Accounting provide assistance to actually get the job done.

Let’s stop the deadening, go-through-the-motions, throwaway tasks. To life!

Originally posted 12-7-11

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