Why I Hate To Do Lists

I wrote a to do list this morning. And I didn’t hate it.

Google “to do list” and you will find dozens of apps, hundreds of blog posts, and at least a hundred think pieces on why and how they work or why people are doing to do lists wrong and how to do them right. Really is there a right or wrong way? Either way, I hate them ALL.

Know why? Most of them assume one thing. That the item that needs to go on the list will not evaporate in crimson glitter though sparkles as the next thought collides into it at warp 10. A great example is the tip in the article above to allow only one item on your to do list in a single day.

Want to see mine for EVERY DAY, then?

  • Get out of bed.

Yep. That’s it. Because ADHD is NOW. Time doesn’t exist. Wait, what? Of course time exists, right? The sun rises and sets every day. Dates tick by. The clock changes hours. Seriously people, it’s a giant circle to me. Thank the curvilinear nature of the ADHD brain. Really, check out the slide show. It explains a lot.

Anyway, in my brain, everything happens at once. So picture this.

Before you open your eyes, the radio starts. Except you haven’t turned on the radio. But this announcer is reminding you of that writing project you still need to do, the interview you haven’t written yet, the blog post you need to write because you’ve only been getting out two a week lately, the fact that you need to actually plan a rough schedule for blog posts. Maybe at least figure out which category/categories you’ll focus on what day of the week. Remember you need to do that other writing project.

And this is all in a radio announcer voice that sounds remarkably like you.

Now, two choices exist here. Stay in bed attempting to memorize this list (which you KNOW doesn’t all have to be done today) or get up. If you get up, the radio immediately shuts off or changes stations. Unfortunately, staying in bed only works until the announcer changes to the bladder elimination station. And then any attempt to remember is pointless anyway.

Linear Tips for a Curvilinear Mind

Most of the tips I’ve found for to do lists include two things that I can’t stand.

  1. Choose a time once you’re ready for the day to sit down and write your list.
  2. Include only those things that need doing for that day.

Now, number two could work for something like a dry erase wall calendar, but tracking goals on a wall calendar for me is insane. I get overwhelmed. Too much information overloads my circuits and my brain literally does not have the bandwidth. No, that’s not a euphemism for busy. It means my neuron circuits will overload.

Yet I can’t just leave off things that need to be finished that week. It’s how my novel has taken so long. Nearly a decade long. So what do I do?

Enter Habitica

No, Habitica does not contain a dancing Groot. If you look on their website, Habitica describes itself thus:

Habitica is a free habit building and productivity app that treats your real life like a game. With in-game rewards and punishments to motivate you and a strong social network to inspire you, Habitica can help you achieve your goals to become healthy, hard-working, and happy.

They aren’t kidding about punishments. I forgot about my dailies for a week and when I logged back in, I was down to less than half my normal health. Yes, health. Essentially, Habitica is an app that gives you an 8-bit avatar with health bar, experience bar, and you can even choose a class, earn gold, and buy cool items, as well as collecting pets and raising them into mounts.

You do all of this by checking items off of a check list.

I started off using it for dailies. You know, writing in my journal, reading Scriptures, prayer. Habits I’ve wanted to build for years and don’t have the mental space to remember. Figured that was all it could be good for.

This morning, it hit me.

Maybe I could actually use this app for more. It’s got reminder options. It’s got phone widgets.

So this morning, I wrote a to do list. And I didn’t hate it. Because I didn’t get up and change the radio station. When I opened my eyes with that announcer in my head, I opened the app, typed all those items in, and put due dates on them. We’ll see how this goes.

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