“Start Days” and “Finish Days”

365 day 81 - To-do list technology

Ah, the ongoing saga of my fight with the “To Do List.”

From trying to (and mostly succeeding) (mostly) incorporate LISTS into my life, I’ve learned that my productivity on any certain day will fall into one of two categories: “Start Days” or “Finish Days.”

Start days are the days when you have loads of ideas and tons of motivation. I add things to the list: “This would be a great idea! I should try doing this!” On Start Days, I will open a “new post” over here and start a draft: just a title and one sentence in the body, like, “write a thing about Snoopy.” I’ll rack up maybe five new drafts of half-sketched out ideas, a couple of funny jokes thrown in, and start writing a ton of emails. I’ll have so many tabs open that I can’t even see what some of them are, and I don’t remember opening most of them.

Finish days, by contrast, will see maybe five tabs open: email, this blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Hootsuite. I’ll open those drafts and say “Oh yeah, I started working on this, this was a good idea,” and I’m calm and settled enough to sit down and flesh it out. Those emails I started writing will get sent off. Tweets get scheduled. The fridge gets filled with groceries. And sometimes, all the laundry gets washed and put away! But there is a dark side to the “Finish Day:” I can’t come up with new ideas. Trying to force ideas to come is like trying to suck up a too-chunky Frappuccino through a tiny Capri Sun straw: it ain’t gonna happen. My brainstorm is a draught. I’m better equipped to do simple, administrative tasks on these days, but on the plus side, things actually get done. Unlike on (side-eye) “Start Days.”

So, you can see how this model of productivity is incompatible with the concept of “To Do Lists.” It’s hard for me to conceive of a piece of content, then yoke myself to finishing the task, on the same day. I’m trying to do it now, by writing this whole blog minutes after the idea came to me, and it is hard. It’s a Start Day, clearly, and the urge to open a new tab or save this draft and start writing about something else is tearing away at me. I’m trying to get better at smoothing out the sharp transition from “Start” to “Finish,” but in my heart of hearts, I don’t think this is such a bad thing, maybe?

Maybe I should just lean in to my “Start Days.” Fill up my lists of “To Do” ideas and let them be my burst of creativity. Resting safe in the knowledge that once “Finish Day” comes, I’ll tick the tasks off, one by one, and not punish myself on those days for not being the bubbling-over pot of creativity that I am on “Start Days.”

Does anyone else have this cycle? Is it normal for you to have those days where you have ALL THE IDEAS but none of the follow through, and then cycle to days where you can crank shit out but you can’t *create*?

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