Tackling the To-Do List

There are actually a number of strange to-do lists occupying my life right now, not just the one I’m going to talk about here. They include:

  1. The Packing To-Do List. You know, cuz I’m moving to Boston in 5 days (OMG).
  2. The Dissertation To-Do List. That’s the one I’ll talk about in a sec — hold tight.
  3. The CV/Cover Letter/Teaching Statement/etc.etc.etc. To-Do List. Because the academic job market kicks into high gear soon, and the partner-person and I might need to go hunting for jobs in the same city, depending on how some things hash out over the next few months.
  4. The What-Do-I-Want-to-Publish To-Do List. Now that I’ve written a dissertation, I should really publish some of this stuff.
  5. The Must-go-to-all-the-Places To-Do List. Because it’s imperative that I eat at all my favorite Ann Arbor restaurants before I leave.

But for this post — The Dissertation To-Do List.

I’ve hit that funny point in the process where there’s simultaneously very little and TONS left to do. Here’s my list as of this very moment:

to do list

Not too bad, right? I mean once you get about halfway down, all I have to do is format (hahaha — I’ve heard so many horror stories about formatting). Really, there’s relatively little writing and revising left to be done (depending, of course, on a bit of pending feedback from committee members). This list feels manageable. I could knock out a few of these in a single sitting, if I dedicated a few hours to the task.

And at the same time, this list feels downright huge. In part because of all the other to-do lists, and all the to-do lists that I’m going to acquire in about one week when I arrive in Boston and start my new job (again, OMG). So sure — not too bad. But still oh-so intimidating.

It’s okay, though. I have a plan.

My plan is going to sound crazy, but here it is: every morning before work, I’m going to get up at 4:30 a.m. and work on this sucker for an hour and a half. YES. I’m going to. I have multiple things that will motivate me to do this:

  1. The dog. Because she’s a weimaraner and thus extremely high-energy, my dog needs a run every morning. But because she’s a weimaraner and thus prone to an awful and deadly condition called bloat, she also needs to rest before and after every meal. This presents a timing conundrum that can be solved by getting her up and feeding her early, then running her right before I leave for work.

    me and my pup after our daily run

    after our daily run

  2. I’m a morning person. You know, once I convince myself to get out of bed, wash my face, and make some coffee. I get a lot of my best writing done in the morning, when my mind is fresh and the world is quiet (including social media).
  3. I’m NOT an evening person. Around 7pm every day, my body starts to shut down, brain first. I have held many jobs that require me to be “on” well past 7pm, including evening teaching jobs, but I have always struggled with working after the sun has set on the day. This means working in the morning is a far better move for me than planning on working after work, which will inevitably just not happen.

So that’s my plan. What do you think? Too ambitious? Probably. I’m hoping, though, that sticking to a schedule and allowing for occasional slip-ups will enable me to get through this particular to-do list without too much trouble. How have you tackled scary to-do lists, I wonder? Tell me on twitter!