I admit it. I have a fondness for check marks. I like the way they measure progress down carefully composed lists. Oh, did I mention I like lists, too?
Unfortunately, to-do lists, while keeping me organized, have a tendency to grow into a riotous thatch of lost goals and unfulfilled intentions. (A tad depressing.) Plus, just making a list can keep me occupied for the better part of the afternoon if I let it. Not the best way to cultivate a productive work habit.
So a couple of weeks ago I started keeping a different kind of list. I call it my “Have Done” list. So far, my Have-Dones include completing an assigned article, writing a newsletter, composing a filler, completing a proofreading project, researching and submitting five queries, marketing reprints, winning two assignments for ideas pitched before the list began, starting a list of ideas that need queries written and posting three blog entries. Wow. Talk about feeling productive.
As a side benefit, I find that I’m less inclined to, as my dad would say, “piddle-fart around” because I know as soon as I finish a project, I get to add it to the list. Maybe it’s not everyone’s ideal way to get past procrastination, but hey, it works for me.
For this weekend’s assignment, I suggest you take this technique for a test drive. During the coming week, keep a list of all the writing tasks you complete. Include all writing-related work. Write in your blog? It counts. Research a market? Write it down. Browse writing-related jobs online? Ditto.
At the end of the week, you’ll have a little slice of positive reinforcement to keep you writing, without a single task left unchecked.