Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Moleskines, to-do lists, and My Dinner with Andre

To my 4 readers who follow the blog closely enough to await updates to the cliffhanger posts: my idea for a Moleskine of to-do lists was a dismal failure. As I explained in that post, the idea was: buy a Moleskine "address book," but don't use it as such. Instead, I'd use the alphabetized sections to stand for different types of tasks. This was supposed to be more organized than having random slips of paper with to-do lists floating around, but not as stifling and regimented as some of the ones other bloggers have blogged (see the first link for examples).

But even that was too complex. I'd waste time trying to decide what category to put something in (including a miscellaneous category). I'd worry about running out of space in some categories before others. And it just felt like one Moleskine too many. If you're not checking it regularly, it's not worth doing at all, and I wasn't checking it regularly.

Solution: I'm using a Moleskine "weekly planner," where the days are all on the lefthand pages, and the righthand pages are blank/lined. Naturally, I put the to-do lists on the blank pages. If the items apply just to that week, it's perfect. If they span multiple weeks, I can either copy the unfinished items to future weeks, or make a habit of going back to check past weeks. Since I'd need to use a datebook anyway, this solves the "one Moleskine too many" problem.

There will be times when the format feels too confining -- when you want to record longer-term or more abstract goals. So I put those in my plain Moleskine, the same one I use to write this blog.

The subject of to-do lists always reminds me of Wallace Shawn's great monologue on the meaning of life in the movie My Dinner with Andre:

... I have a list of errands and responsibilities that I keep in a notebook; I enjoy going through the notebook, carrying out the responsibilities, doing the errands, then crossing them off the list. ... I just don't think I feel the need for anything more than all this ...

(Wait for it ... "inconceivable!")