To Do List Minimalist

November Chalkboard for crushin' goals. Note the two big priorities--one professional and one personal, because I'm balanced like that.

November Chalkboard for crushin' goals. Note the two big priorities--one professional and one personal, because I'm balanced like that.

People often associate minimalism with getting rid of stuff, a less is more mentality, and having more experiences over more things, and so on and so forth. All those things are great, fantastic even, and I try to incorporate them in my life. The most rewarding application of the minimalist philosophy for me, however, has been cutting the crap from my to do list and saying no to opportunities and obligations not in line with my goals and values (and I am so bad at saying no…it’s ridiculous).

I keep track of my to do’s on a giant chalkboard in my office. I got the idea from the Being Boss Chalkboard method (Being Boss is an awesome weekly podcast for creative entrepreneurs that I kind of love). I change it up from month to month to suit my mood. But I was creeping back into my "let's do all the things" mindset. In October, I had this huge long to do list where I had a bullet point for every freaking thing I was interested in accomplishing. And most of that stuff, I just didn't finish. Instead, that giant unfocused list made me feel scattered and all over the place. I didn’t make time for the stuff that mattered. 

So for November, I thought, “What if I focused on maybe one or two things? Could I be more productive, more successful at getting shit done?” My creative writing was sitting far too low on my to do list and I never got much written—starting and stopping a number of different novels, short stories, and essays (because heaven forbid I choose just one kind of project). Thanks to the added incentive of NanoWriMo 2016, I feel freaking amazing! It’s been a week, and I've written over 10,000 words towards my novel and busted my ass at the gym, culminating in a Sunday 5k for the hell of it. I think this minimalist approach to my to do list is working so far. I’ve already been more productive in a week then I was the whole month of October.  I don't have the “should have” guilt eating away at me each night when my head hits the pillow and I’m not waking up at 3 am in a panic that I’m wasting my life—I’m doing the things I want to be doing. 

There's always the stuff you've got to do like clean your house, buy groceries, go to work, etc., but what about the things that you want to do? Don't forget to make room for those! Maybe even put them at the top of your to do list every once in awhile. If we don’t make time for those goals, they will never get accomplished. As I’m already learning this month, all it takes is a little bit of time each day and a willingness to cut out the extraneous bullshit.

National Novel Writing Month 2016: It’s On!

I have signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo) for the past three years and not once have I completed the challenge. The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. No small feat but not impossible either. But this year is to be my year! With an average of about 1700 words a day, I got this. I’ve already done 1764 words this morning!

I share this with you as an accountability tool. I'm putting it out there in the universe, November 2016 is the month of writing furiously. No matter how rough my draft, nor shitty my prose, I’m letting the words flow—putting my ego aside and smothering my inner critic. This ain’t going to be pretty, but I am going to do it.

I’ve said my piece. If you are interested in tearing your hair out and driving yourself crazy for a month too, you can learn more about the challenge on the NanoWriMo website.

Happy writing!