Creativity and Your To Do List

creativity and your to do listWhat is the connection between creativity and your to do list? 

In a nutshell, to do or not to do, that is the question!
I’ve got the answer. 🙂

There’s always a lot of talk about keeping a to-do list. Here’s how to handle it. The night before, or the morning of, write down what you need to get done each day. Prioritize the top three items and check them off when complete.

I’m betting that your list contains far more items than you, or anyone, could get done in a single day. You add unfinished and undones to the next day’s list, and so on and so forth. Before long, the list is an impossible, unending reminder of all the things you failed to do.

The undones become your undoing.

Your To-Do list acts like glue, keeping you stuck right where you are in the Creativity Gap.

When it comes to creativity, are YOU stuck like glue?  You know the feeling; your attention is stuck on all the things you have to do and you cannot get any creative action going. To-dos float around in your head and clog up the space that ideas and inspiration need to occupy, blossom and grow.

These to-dos come in all sizes: tiny “take-my-sweater-to-the-cleaner” tasks to huge “complete art for my one-woman-show” kind. Bits and bites of your attention get stuck on every single one of them – if not consciously, definitely subconsciously. Symptoms of to-do-itis include: confusion, overwhelm, distraction, scatterbrain, lethargy, fatigue and a compulsion to drop everything and run away for a play day.

To be more creative, or more effectively creative, you must get control of your to-dos. To-Do lists done right can be more of a help than a hinderance. I recommend to all of my coaching clients that they keep to do lists.

To maximize creativity, your to do list must be written down. On paper, in a journal, or on a chalkboard. Your list must be visible and tactile. It can be pretty or practical. But write it down.

I know, I know, you’re a digital gal! You’ve successfully migrated from paper lists and calendars to an app or the cloud. I see the value in that, I do. The problem is that the cloud, in many ways, resembles your mind – and what’s in there is still floating around…out there…somewhere. It’s not tangible, not readily visible. A written list has a great eye/hand/body connection! As an artist, you know the importance of the eye/hand connection.

The act of writing, the contact of pencil to paper, not only makes your thoughts tangible, it makes them REAL, something meaty to grab ahold of and tackle.

The real benefit of writing your to-do list down is that it takes all those necessary actions, both big and little, out of your head and frees up mental space and energy for creativity.

It’s time to tackle your creativity and your to do list! 

Take 5 minutes right now and write down your 5 most pressing to-dos.

Yay. You’ve written a to-do list. I imagine you are feeling a sense of accomplishment and, even better, a lightness of being as a result of clearing away some of that stuff from your brain and making space for juicy, satisfying, mouth-watering creative thinking.

But you’re not quite there yet. There is one more crucial step to dissolve the glue of the to-do.

Take action on that To-Do list.

Start, complete, cross off and move on to what’s next on the list. “But wait,” you say, “there’s no way I can do all that now….or today….or even this month!”

So what’s an artist to do?

Next week I will provide you with a 10-step action plan designed to dissolve the glue of the to-do. Taking action on the 10-step list will be another thing to add to your to-do list. BUT let’s be real – life is one unending to-do list. To live is to do and the more you do, chances are you’ll end up with even more that needs to be done.

The goal is to create a to-do list that makes you eager to jump out of bed in the morning and tackle it.

My future starts when I wake up every morning.
Every day I find something creative to do with my life.
Miles Davis

In the meantime, get in the habit of writing down the things you need to do and take as much action as you can. Start loosening the glue and opening up space for a more creative and less stressful life RIGHT NOW!

I would like to do whatever it is that presses the essence from the hour.
Mary Oliver