I live by lists. They’re so beautiful on the page: one item after another after another.
Whether we process each item in the order in which it appears on the list or, more likely, get around to them someday in no particular sequence, lists help us create order in our hectic lives.
The most valuable thing about making lists is that it gets tasks, projects, and ideas out of our heads and into a place where we can find them again. At least that’s the idea.
With that in mind, here’s a list of 5 lists (yep, a list of lists) that are useful to artist-entrepreneurs.
1. Your To-Do List
This is the list that you’re probably most familiar with.
Your to-do list consists of urgent or near-future items that you must accomplish. It might look like this:
- Pay bills.
- Order framing supplies.
- Write draft of newsletter.
If you’re disorganized, your lists are probably all over the place – likely on sticky notes covering your desktop or computer monitor. Not the best way to be productive.
If you’re organized, you have a single to-do list in a single place. You know where to find it and how to prioritize the items on it.
Next, you need a place to store the not-so-urgent things. This is …
2. Your Good Ideas List
The items on your good ideas list are not high priority, but … Dang! … They’d be really cool to work on.
This list might look like the following:
- Write a book.
- Teach a class overseas.
- Get a residency.
These good ideas might become goals or remain good ideas forever. Heck, you may even find out that they’re not such good ideas after all.
Here’s how to know if your good idea should be turned into a goal: If …
- You’re incredibly enthusiastic about it and can’t stop thinking about it.
- You’ve done the math and it could be very lucrative.
- The thought of someone else developing a similar idea makes you lose sleep.
Time doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not a good idea should become a goal because you will never have more time. If any or all of the above apply, you will find the time to make it happen.
3. Your Bucket List
You know this one, too. The bucket list is for things you want to experience before you pass from this earth.
- Eat a decadent French dessert from a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower.
- Witness the Northern Lights.
- Camp out in New Mexico to experience Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field. (Now you know what's on my list.)
Got this? Now here’s one you may not have considered …
4. Your Never-Do-This List
This list is about creating boundaries with others and with yourself. It consists of things you’ve probably experienced before and don’t ever want to experience again.
- Never work with people who are always bargaining with you.
- Never submit to an outdoor art festival. (They’re not for everyone!)
- Never allow the bookkeeping to pile up for six months.
- Never let your mailing list grow cold.
Here are some of mine:
- I never work with whiny people who make excuses. I can’t help them.
- I never use the word “hate.” (I still struggle with this one. “Can’t stand” or “strongly dislike” don’t seem to have the same impact.)
- I never say to anyone, anywhere: “I’m so busy.” It’s boring.
- I never eat mushrooms because it’s unlikely I’ve suddenly developed a taste for them after all these decades. (Don’t judge me.)
Have fun with this list!
Finally, the fifth list shouldn’t be ignored.
5. Your Done List
See if this sounds familiar …
It’s the end of the day and you’re winding down. You start to outline your appointments and tasks for the next day, and it becomes clear that you didn’t accomplish all that you wanted to today.
Your to-do list is multiplying like rabbits! You see no end in sight.
Of course, there’s no end in sight to your to-do list unless your life is pretty uneventful. And I’m sure that’s not the case.
We need to get used to the fact that the to-do list continues to grow. One way to be okay with this is to acknowledge what you have accomplished. This is your done list.
The items on this list might be projects you crossed off of the to-do list or other responsibilities that popped up during the day.
Take time to enjoy the accomplishments of each day, no matter how small they seem.
Please share your thoughts and experiences with list-making in a comment below.