Don’t let staying at home make you feel caged in–instead readjust and pivot with a great To-Do list to accomplish your tasks.
By Shelley Widhalm
I figured that with the slowdown resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, I would become super efficient at my To-Do list.
I figured more time meant more tasks done.
What’s actually happening is that I’m sleeping in and taking more breaks during the day. I’m stressed and anxious about the news, what’s next and what all this means at a personal and global level.
In other words, I’m not accomplishing all of my goals. I want to traditionally publish one book. I want to self-publish two others. I want to regain my freelancing work. I want to be safe and happy.
Readjusting and Pivoting
What I’m actually doing during my stay-at-home time is readjusting and pivoting.
Once coronavirus first struck, I went through the stages of grief from shock to acceptance. I was shocked at the frantic, overstocking behaviors in the grocery store (I work part-time in one as part of the whole gig economy thing). I watched mask wearing go from 10 percent to 75 percent. And I saw the store’s max of 206 people result in lines out the door with everyone six feet apart.
This now is the new normal, and in the middle of all of this, I looked at my To-Do list, thinking, how do I start?
This is where the pivoting comes in. I have to find new work in new ways. I have to redo my marketing materials to fit this time, innovating in how I appeal to the customer. I have to rethink my writing, moving from taking the work as it comes to going out and finding it. And I have to think of my creative writing as a business with a mission or purpose and business and marketing plans.
In other words, I’m readjusting my goals yet not accomplishing any of them, because I’m caught in the middle. And that’s what this coronavirus pandemic feels like. Every day the world changes. What’s closed? What’s open? Put on a mask? Take off the mask? Stay at home or be safer at home? Flux and fluctuation. Change and difference. I can’t keep up.
What are your responses to the pandemic? What’s on your to-do list that you want to accomplish but because of the flux you can’t start?
Working Through a To-Do List
Here are some ways to work through a To-Do list, whether for writing, editing or other tasks:
- Write it out in a mess.
- Organize the mess.
- Break up the mess into steps.
- Do the steps one at a time.
- Give yourself credit for each step.
- Celebrate the credit with some pretend.
For instance, since we can’t go out to a restaurant, sit in a coffee shop or go on a shopping trip, take the experience home. Use your imagination to create the noise and busyness around you, and set up your table by the window, looking out at whatever seems beautiful. Readjust and pivot, going inward to make what’s outward more bearable.
Taking my own advice, I’m going to create a master plan of each step involved in self-publishing, using my resources—books and in-person (before coronarvirus) and Zoom classes—to list the steps. I felt overwhelmed (and still do), but the To-Do list will make it something to carry out from one task to the next, step by step. It’s a way to get out of the middle and the confusion, the uncertainty and the mental mess. The result, I hope, will be a clear direction, plus some acceptance and, soon, a reason to celebrate.