Step one: find box of to-do lists


Yes. Literally. I throw nothing out. Ever. I have gone to great lengths to stop accumulating things I don’t need. I discourage birthday and Christmas gifts. I live in a small house and constantly am redefining the razor’s width line between pack-rat and hoarder. Fortunately my wife hasn’t yet put arsenic in my toothpaste (one of my half-used tubes).

Speaking of redefining, I consider disorganization to be one of my super powers. Not that it provides any benefit toward vanquishing evil or promoting survival of mankind; I’d just rather think there is a positive spin to it. Every now and then, I get the termite in my sphincter to “reorganize,” which usually ends up with a quarter of my office temporarily habitable by more than just one adventurous, clumsy cat. Those are times my productivity increases. Those times don’t last long: another project comes in and disturbs the delicate ecosystem of my piles of papers, books, DVDs, art projects, clown props, costume pieces, shoes and shoes and hats and shoes, and the materials to make more.

About six months ago, I delved into the pile to organize, and I started to find various “to do” lists from various points of history. Not everything on them gets done, though without a list, far less normally gets done. I threw them into a box. Additionally, I’ve kept notes over the last 25 years. Notebooks, sketchbooks, scraps of paper, bar napkins, etc. full of funny observations, doodles, cartoons ideas, art project notes, etc. Then there are the computer files with the beginnings of novels, standup routines, theatrical ideas, short stories, jokes, and “wouldn’t it be cool if’s.”

About two months ago, I realized I had about a half dozen projects in my head, with subprojects, to keep straight, so (lo and behold), I went into MS Word and made a list. I realized I’m about halfway through my life and I have a lot of lists of things I haven’t done. So I gave the file a name: “Master List.” And I made the first item, “Find box of lists.”

I realize, as a scatterbrain (some would call that ADD), I don’t multitask well (though I can juggle fire on a 6-foot unicycle while telling jokes and dodging the occasional crazy drunk homeless person). What I do well is, once an activity/project has taken my my interest, I can go without food, sleep or human interaction for long periods of time. ADD specialists call that “hyper-focus,” whereas I call that “productivity.” So my hope, my aim, my overall project, is to get that master list made. Then I plan to prioritize (triage) into three categories: a) imperative; b) want to do; c) I can die happy without it.

How do you prioritize the stuff you want to do before you die?

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