How To Create An Exhaustive To-Do List

I’ve had several people ask me in the past few days, half-jokingly and perhaps half-not, if I could make them a major To Do list, or if I could come to their house and purge (I totally will, too. It’s way more fun to throw away other people’s stuff. The thing is, you have to let me…), or if I could give an example of my lists to draw from.

I can do that, sure. :) Let’s say you need to Do Something About Your Books. (I reckon this is a fairly understandable topic for those who read my blog. :)) More, let us presume you are actually Willing To Do Something About Your Books, because if you’re not, well, there’s nothing a list can do to help you. Let us further presume that you have a major stash of books in at least three rooms in the house.

Do Something About My Books becomes an overwhelming task, left on its own like that. To deal with it, you gotta break it down. The farther you break it down, the easier it (nominally) becomes, because you have a small step to accomplish and then you get to mark something off the list and it looks like you did something!

So this is how I Deal With The Books:

– get boxes/bags
» check with local bookstore/liquor store for book-appropriate boxes
» arrange to collect boxes at a set time
» collect boxes
– create to-be-read shelf
– cull TBR shelf:
» am i REALLY going to read this? if no, box it
– cull books (room by room/case by case/shelf by shelf: break it down as much as you need)
» will i re-read it? really? really?
» » keep
» does it have sentimental value (signed/rare edition/fave author/etc)?
» » keep
– box/bag up what’s not sentimental or re-read material
– when a box/bag is full, bring it to used bookstore/goodwill/library ASAP

For the record, the number of books I actually regret having chosen to ditch is below ten.

This is basically how I do to-do lists in general. Also, I add things to my lists all the time. They’re constantly evolving works in progress, so you don’t have to imagine you’ve got to get every step down the first time you approach the list.

In general, if you’re not a native list-maker (or even if you are) and would like to become one, GETTING THINGS DONE by David Allen is a good book on making lists and, well, getting things one. It’d be an even better book, of course, if I was rich enough to hire him to come help me get all the high-level shit he talks about dealt with, but in principle and in many practical applications, it’s an excellent book for this kind of thing.

I’ll put several more examples behind the cut, just in case they’re of any use to anybody.

Dealing with our DVDs meant:
– find appropriate DVD wallets
» check amazon
» read amazon reviews
» find actually quite nice binders
» order a test set
» put TV on DVD into binders
» discover they don’t all fit
» order more
» finish putting TV on DVD into binders
» throw away/flatten TV on DVD boxes
» put film on DVD into binders
» throw away one zillion DVD cases
» rejoice

The culling clothes edition looked like this:
– move enough stuff around in the shed that i can reach the boxes of clothes
– bring the boxes of clothes in
– wash the clothes
– fold the clothes
– sort the clothes
– bag the clothes
– bring clothes to charity shop
» again
» and again
» and again…

Here’s a self-publishing-a-book list:
– email editor & find out what her plans are
– hire cover artist
– beatsheet book
– write book
– submit to editor
– revise
– submit for CEs
– submit for cover design
– submit for page layouts
– get ISBNs
– send to Audible for possible audio book
– enter into Ingram’s system
– book launch