Daily 3: Peace of mind is a daily notecard

November 23, 2016

If I have a takeaway from today, it’s of just how lost I am without a simple item: a single notecard.

I write my daily to-do list every night, on a notecard. It looks something like this:


That’s the one from yesterday. I list out the tasks I do every day (habits, or “habs”), highlight tasks according to importance, and generally get a handle on the coming day. I also have a weekly notecard, as well as a digital file where I dump all the other tasks I want to do eventually.

The beauty of a single notecard is that you can’t put too much on it. Eleven lines is about the limit. Sometimes I’ll put two small tasks on a single line, or I’ll add extras off to the right like I did yesterday—that’s more cluttered than my usual method—but no matter what, there’s a limit. I can only try to do so much.

The problem isn’t what the notecard does or does not have on it. The problem is when I don’t finish making it.

Here’s the one from today:


“Stuff I didn’t do yesterday!” That’s a sign of trouble for me. I might as well just write “I’m screwed.”

I feel lost when I don’t know what I need to do. Not that I always need to be doing something—on a recent trip, my entire to-do list for a day consisted of “make pretzel necklace” and “don’t die”—I just need to know whether I need to be doing something. Not filling up all eleven lines on purpose is greatly to my benefit, when I’m smart enough to manage it, but leaving it unfinished, or not having it at all, is debilitating. I can’t relax, because I don’t know what I’m forgetting.

Probably this is me being crazy, which I acknowledge. I just like to know whether I’ve accomplished everything I need to do in a day, or at least know that I haven’t and have decided to not do the rest. It’s not failure that bothers me, it’s the not knowing that’s the worst, which is why I went through today—an altogether successful day, and one where I don’t think I forgot anything—with a low level of dread. Even now I can’t relax, not until I figure out what I missed.

At least I can check off one task. “SWGEE daily,” done. Now I just need to figure out what I forgot, and then make tomorrow’s list.

As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).

By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.

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