To Do lists were ruining my days. I’d make these long lists of chores to complete and cross each chore off when done. But then the crossed out items would, much like a biblical family tree, beget and beget and beget until the “done” items morphed into more To Do’s. At day’s end, I would look at my list and see an unwieldy string of Undones overshadowing the “done,” an unsuccessful, unaccomplished day.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t getting things done. I was. The problem was really that I wasn’t giving myself space and time to recognize what I had finished. Ironically, my list was cluttered. Each time I checked My To Do list, it kept presenting an impossible number of daily tasks. I was setting myself up to fail.
When, on New Year’s Eve, I declared my end to writing To Do lists, I did so because I needed to back off of trying to Bycram so much into one day, one morning, one hour, one minute. I was busy and that wasn’t going to change. But I wanted to be intentionally, more mindfully busy.
So, instead of the To Do list, I started writing Daily Dids lists as a way to reflect on my day. (I couldn’t just give up making lists cold turkey!). I started with simple but important things (I ate a good lunch, I graded one class of papers) then started including items that I often take for granted as givens (I took a breath).
Because I was also reflecting by making this list, I decided it would be interesting to make my Daily Dids a list of questions. I thought about this one day while reading the book The Three Questions with the kids.
In The Three Questions, a picture book retelling of Leo Tolstoy’s short story of the same title, Jon Muth presents a young boy named Nikolai. Nikolai is walking around, asking his friends to answer these questions:
“When is the best time to do things?”
“Who is the most important one?
“What is the right thing to do?”
By the end of the story, Nikolai learns the answers to these three questions. Leo the wise turtle explains,
“There is only one important time, and that time is now.”
“The most important one is always the one you are with.”
“The most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side.”
I love these questions and responses in part because they implicitly show the importance of prioritizing. In addition, a few of my own important questions are:
How did I show my family I love them?
How did I learn today?
Did I laugh today?
How did I remove clutter?
What are your important questions?