Do you use checkmarks to keep track of what you’ve done? Do you use them as motivation? I realize that I do, and I hadn’t given it much thought until I read an article this morning in the New York Times from Amitava Kumar, who talks about how checkmarks helped him achieve his goals. I’ll link it at the bottom. As I read the article, I glanced to my side, and spotted the class readings with large, glorious checkmarks at the top of the front pages, to remind myself that I have completed that particular reading. Just below the stack of readings is a print out of the class syllabus, with checks down the page (a checkmark each time I complete a week of work), reminding me that I am indeed getting through this class and thus it will end one day.
I’m here to reclaim the check mark in its basic form, etched by a human hand using ink or graphite.Amitava Kumar
When I’m overwhelmed with things to do, one of my favourite tricks is to make a list, then check them off. I will even line out an item on the list, because crossing it out feels so emotionally restorative.
The idea of the checkmarks as motivation struck me this morning because I was just realizing I’m beginning to feel the seasonal anxiety that comes when my regular tasks continue but the out of doors tasks have exploded because it’s Spring. How can I do it all? This is my sixth year here, so I know that no matter the catastrophe, all will be well in the end. And yet, here I am worrying.
I read the article and thought: I need to make a list! I may not reduce the size of the list, but at the very least I will be able to check things off, and that will feel good, and remind me that I am getting things accomplished, even though I am not catching up. Nor will I, till the grasses stop growing in June, when the rain stops. Or maybe I’ll be so far behind at that point I won’t catch up till July. The point is, that’s too long to be in a state of anxiety, so I need to relax.
What should go onto my list:
- Finish Lab #6 by Friday
- Interview Monika in time to finish the Great Spirit newsletter by Sunday
- Weed the front garden and the bird feeder garden
- Meet with financial advisor to figure out how much to contribute to my IRA before IRS deadline
- Mow the entire property
- Trim weeds of entire property where I can’t mow
- Paint my bedroom before the new carpet is installed
- Remember to buy cat food, and litter
- Remember to buy salt for water softener at the well
- Try to eradicate the mole before its tunneling causes the chicken house to fall into the Earth
- Clean the house. Always clean the house
- Go grocery shopping
- Get Zoom Cherokee meeting recording and write law article for June Cherokee newsletter
- Remove the new plants from their plastic pots and place them into the ground
- Install something for the pea plants to climb
- Call United Airlines and figure out why I’ve been charged three times for seat upgrades
- Message Kim for her address so I can mail her a gift
- Rebuild my stack of firewood on the porch from the wood at the wood shed
- Get the pump back into the creek and power it for the summer so my pond has water
- Either buy a chainsaw and learn how to use it, or find someone who will cut up the gigantic fallen tree
- Spray weed killer on the driveway
There are always so many things to do. I’m glad I made this list just now, because it will help me organize and prioritize. I’m heading to central Oregon Saturday to have lunch with cousins because we are all vaccinated now. How fun! So I need to decide which things must be finished before my trip. Two weeks after that, I’ll be gone for four days in Southern Oregon/Northern California, and I need to plan.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with Spring chores on top of all the other chores (or Autumn chores on top of everything else, depending on where you live), consider using checkmarks. It might not help, but it’s worth a try.
Here’s the link to Kumar’s article, that talks about how his writing production improved with the use of the humble checkmark. The Oldest Productivity Trick Around – The New York Times (nytimes.com)