Plan the Work, Work the Plan

Posted: February 2, 2015 in Uncategorized
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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

It’s Monday, so I have created new to-do lists for the day and the week.

Creating a list of things to do and completing that list is an oddly satisfying part of adult life.ToDo

I’m a to-do lister from way back. My lifelong friend and long-suffering college roommate, Jenny Couch, used to roll her eyes upon finding that my daily lists began with the same items: 7:00 wake/shower 7:30 breakfast. She asked me why I needed to write “wake up” on my to-do list. Clearly, she was unaware of the enormous sense of accomplishment crossing an item off a to-do list can produce.

wellbegunRMU’s English Department Chair, Mick MacMahon, has a fabulous habit of establishing a to-do list for our regular departmental meetings. The magical aspect of Mick’s to-do list protocol involves not just crossing off the item from a list, but deleting it through erasure. I have started erasing items from my daily course agenda, which is written on the white board to indicate the plan of action for every class period. As the class unfolds, the list is diminished by our work, leaving fewer and fewer concepts to cover until we’re all done.

Like every other good thing in the world, to-do lists have received a 21st-century update via online apps. The brilliantly named Wunderlist offers a variety of public lists. Some seem worth a look, but it’s unclear how looking at a catalog of lists can enhance my productivity. The skeptical Luddite within me balks. In this behavior, I am emulating Neil Postman, who regularly asked if there actually existed a problem before technological solutions were introduced. Pen and paper serve me exceedingly well. To-do list apps may be life-changing, but it’s likely that I’ll never know.

The world is more digital than ever, but my to-do lists will remain unchanged: embodying old-school achievement, vintage productivity.


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