A Never-Ending Story

When teaching about essay-writing, to try and get my students to think about the importance of context and clarity of expression, I often read this passage to them:

The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange things into different groups. Of course, one pile may be sufficient, depending on how much there is to do. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of facilities, that is the next step. Otherwise you are pretty well set. It is important not to overdo things – that is, it is better to do too few things at once than too many. In the short run, this might not seem important, but complications can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive. Eventually the whole procedure will have to be repeated. However, that is a part of life, and at present, it seems there will be no end to the necessity of this task.

write-to-do-listAs I write, I find myself in the middle of another never-ending story. A to-do list story. As I described over the summer, I start each week with  a to-do list, having tried to complete the one from the week before. Over the summer, I found that I could get through tasks, and even do extra things. Since the semester has begun, I haven’t managed this. Rather, as fast as I tick things off the list, during the week, other things are added on.

I prioritize work according to dimensions of urgent-important (where things that are urgent and important get done first and so on). As some things that I do don’t even make it to my to-do list, while some things that are on it have been there a while (writing exam questions is ludicrously difficult – try it – and something I tend to put off as long as possible), I’m wondering if there is a better way to plan my time. Should I ditch the to-do list altogether? Or do I have to resolve myself to the fact that I will never get to the end of the list at this time of year? How do you plan your time? Any tips from those within and outside academia would be welcome.

The other never-ending story, outlined above, is ‘doing  the laundry’, by the way.

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