Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Create a Someday/Definitely List

A list on a Post-It note, stuck to someone's hand

If you’re familiar with Getting Things Done (GTD, for short &mdash: a popular method of personal productivity), then you’ve probably heard of the Someday Maybe list. That list contains all the things that you can’t get to now but want to in the future. Things like learning how to tie climbing knots, writing a novel, cooking a seven-course dinner, reading that book, picking up the basics of JavaScript. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

For many people, though, the Someday Maybe list becomes what someone on Twitter called a Someday/Never list. The list becomes a repository of tasks you never get to. It becomes a repository of broken dreams that you either swear you will get to, or lament If I only had the time …

It’s a list that grows and taunts you.

I don’t see the point of the Someday Maybe list. That mythical someday almost never comes. Don’t bother with it.

Instead, make a Someday/Definitely list.

A Someday/Definitely List?

The Someday/Definitely list turns the idea of the Someday Maybe list on its head. The list contains tasks that you can’t get to now, but which you will. And soon. Very soon.

With a Someday/Definitely list, you’re committing to actually finding the time to tackle those tasks. You’re making yourself accountable to yourself to take action.

Creating the List

It doesn’t matter what tool you use to create the list. You can use a text file, a tool like Evernote or Simplenote or Google Keep, a word processor document, or a spreadsheet. Just create the list.

Here’s what my Someday/Definitely list looks like in WorkFlowy:

My Someday/Definitely list in WorkFlowy

You’ll notice that this post in on that list …

Don’t put too many items on the list. Mine has six items on it, and that’s about the maximum. If that tasks that you want to tackle require quite a bit of effort and commitment, keep the list down to two or three items at the most.

Having a list is all well and good, but what makes it Definitely and not Maybe?

Making the Time

I hope that the items on your Someday/Definitely list are important to you. And if they’re important, you should schedule time to tackle them. This is one way in which the Someday/Definitely list differs from the Someday Maybe list.

Look at your schedule. Take a close look at your life. Figure out where you can squeeze in the time to carry out the tasks on the list. Set aside time, no matter how little, to do the work.

Then, add that time to your calendar or task list or whatever you use to keep track what you do. That time, even if it’s only 15 minutes, should be sacrosanct. Nothing should come between you and the item on your Someday/Definitely list during that time.

With this post, for example, I knew I had a couple of hours free one Saturday afternoon. So I blocked out some of that time to write the first draft of this post in a paper notebook. And here we are.

Do a Regular Review

This is the other way in which the Someday/Definitely list differs from its GTD counterpart. You’re not just dumping tasks into the list and hoping that one day in the not-so-distant future.

You need to look at the list every six to eight weeks. If there are items on the list that you haven’t been able to get around to in that time, chances are you’re not going to get around to them.

So what do you do? You delete them. Be ruthless. Don’t let sentiment or the vain hope that you will be able to tackle those tasks get in your way. Delete them. Forget them. Move on. Focus on what you know you will be able to get around to doing soon.

Creating a Someday/Definitely list is a bit of a shift. And it requires work, it requires planning. But if you have tasks that you really, truly want to tackle then this list is the perfect place for them. It will spur you on to actually getting those things done.

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