Clearing Your To-Do List...and Your Mind

Sunday, November 23, 2008
by LuAnn Schindler

If you are like me, you keep a mental list of everything you need to accomplish. As each day passes, you cross off those items you've taken care of and then the cycle begins again as you add more to-dos. Some of the items on the list are short-term solutions; others might include long-term goals.

I keep my to-do-list on my computer (thanks Vista and Google applications). It's one of the first things I look at in the morning, and I review it every evening before I shut down (literally AND figuratively). The list keeps me on track toward the bigger goals I've established for myself.

Why do I have an easier time developing new ideas? I think it is because I DO write down my to-do list. When you simply think about a potential list of events, articles, and deadlines, your mind draws energy to keep the list fresh. Writing down the bones of the day frees up space in my natural hard drive - my brain.

The same premise works when you consider long-term projects. I use the same technique when I'm preparing for interviews. I write pertinent questions, which allows me to spiderweb my thoughts into even more questions.

I also journal every day. When my fateful day comes, my children will have volumes to read. I hope they enjoy it. But one of the qualities of journaling that I truly enjoy is that once a thought has gone from brain to pen to paper and I've had the opportunity to vent or share joy, the thoughts usually are wiped away. Creative thought continues to develop.

And that is what writing is all about - creating new venues of thought that challenge your creativity. Clearing those thoughts - the to-do list, the grocery list, the character sketch, the new line of a poem you've been working on for days - and putting those words on paper open the path for new ideas, new characters, new stories.

That's the heart of writing.

And I can cross this blog post off my "to-do" list and open the neural pathway to creativity.


Joanne said...

I am so with you on this post. Without those lists, I'm forever trying to keep track of everything going on, using up lots of energy. I couldn't write without them. I've even considered blogging a new venue of thought encouraging creativity!

Anonymous said...

I would be totally lost without my to-do-list. I try to journal everyday but sometimes find it looking like a to-do-list as well.

Great post.

LuAnn Schindler said...

Thanks Joanne and Ang. I think blogging is a great venue for creativity. When I first started, I blogged every day. Now I choose topics that I can expand on and really get into. It's fun!

And sometimes, my journal mirrors my to-do list. There's just so much I want to accomplish!

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