Why am I talking about To Do lists? Well I noticed today that I work a lot faster when I have a To Do list, and I've positively blitzed mine today. I've been exceptionally busy lately, and I've got a lot more to show for it. In fact, I even write better when I have a zillion and one things to do - if I find a spare ten minutes, and I get the urge to write, I'll take advantage of the moment. If I've got a spare hour and no other pressing concerns, I'll easily while away the time faffing about on Facebook or catching up on blogs.
I think much of it is psychological. When you have little to do, you have more potential time in which to do a task, and you under-estimate how much time it'll take since you have so much time spare, meaning you end up being rushed. When you have a lot to do, you're conscious of the passage of time and so spend more concentrated time on the task, meaning you usually over-estimate how long it will take, thus freeing you up to work on the rest of your list.
I guess my point is that I see a lot of blog posts advising writers to give themselves dedicated blocks of writing time, to clear their schedules and turn everything off so they can just write. I'm sure that works for some people who like to work steadily, with no interruptions, but I've got the attention span of a cat so it doesn't work for me. I've tried setting aside an hour to write, and minimising interruptions, but my mind wanders and I end up interrupting myself. Not good. I like to work on multiple projects at once, devoting short bursts of concentration to each of them, meaning at the end of an hour I could feasibly have three or four things almost-finished, instead of one thing completed. Besides, if I set time aside to write, then I won't use it for writing. If I snatch time where I can, then I recognise how precious that time is and I use it wisely.
What about you? How do you cope with your To Do list? Do you manage your time, or try to do everything at once?
Image by Dublindays.