My mother always made lists. I remember seeing them on the glass top of the side table beside the ashtray and coffee cup. They were lists for what you might expect — groceries, chores, events planning— and there were also more obscure lists, that might not have computed in my 6 year old brain, but their quixotic meanings do resonate now, as I make lists about the same mundane things and also more random notes that help me remember things at 4am. They are obscure and yet the writing down of the words —enchantress, mountain, yellow— while meaningless at a casual glance, they will help me remember in the morning to research more about Ada Lovelace, to finish the concept proposal I’m working on and to look for a yellow scarf. I saw a woman with my skin tone wearing a yellow scarf, and the lust for the perfect yellow accessory was born. Perhaps Santa will oblige.
I’m a big fan of lists. Written in pen. On anything, the back of an envelope, a bill, recycled, reused, you name it. Digital lists are important (we use basecamp as software of choice for project management) and yet the pen in hand has a kind of transmission to the brain that feels more solid. Not just an illusion, cognitive science studies endorse this perspective.1
The activity in the North Pole is almost at peak energy, and the nice and naughty lists are no doubt done. But there’s still time for some lists.
Here are 2 of my lists for the end of the year:
Annual Business Planning / Website Maintenance
- Domain Names
Check your domain name’s expiry and mark the renewal date in your calendar. I let a domain name go past the expiry date this year (long story – old email address that didn’t send me the renewal) and had to cough up a staggering $250 to renew it. (the average price of a domain is 15 bucks). It was worth it, but a costly lesson. We have a gadzillion domain names, so this year I’m going to make a spreadsheet to keep track. Some will also be let go of. Hopefully not to vultures.
Schedule Back-ups and Updates
Set up a schedule (if you don’t have someone doing this for you – ahem:) to backup your website on a schedule, and to keep plugins updated on a regular basis. We do this on pretty much a weekly basis. Note the qualifier “pretty much” – this year it will be on the calendar scheduled on a specific day and time.
Plan to Blog
Put it on your calendar. Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly…. Make a master list of blog topics in advance. I started doing this at the end of November, and it’s been very useful. Also going onto Basecamp to keep track. With reminders!
And to contrast the practical to-dos, here’s a deceptively simple and yet ingenious way to consider planning et al.
Annual Word of the Year.
Christine Kane2 is one of several, but I believe the first, to introduce this concept. Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, which are usually too big and rarely kept, choose one word to guide you for the year. The first time I tried this I chose “balance” and coincidentally ended up with a flu that gave me an inner ear thing and I had dizziness for months. It almost threw me off the pursuit, but in the end the word did help me prioritize my life in ways that felt more in balance. This year (2015) is was Value. Hence I did willingly part with the dough to renew a domain name for my artwork, as I decided it was valuable on so many levels.
- Get a fresh blank piece of paper, or nice shiny graphed notebook.
- Make a list of words.
- Let them dance around in your head. See which ones create “sparks of joy”. Read Marie Kondos’ book on decluttering for more on that concept3.