Turn Your “Do” List Into a “Waiting” List

Perhaps your 22-23 school year is already underway.  Perhaps you’re preparing to welcome students back to the classroom.  Either way, it’s an incredibly busy time of the year, with lots to do.  And I’ll bet your “Do” list is getting longer and longer.  It might be so long that you have several “Do” lists, or several apps to help you manage your “Do” lists.  You might also have a notebook, note cards, an app that can remind you of recurring “Do” items, and another app that allows you to prioritize your tasks in a “Kanban” arrangement where you can see all your lists of major projects horizontally that can be rearranged to improve project prioritization, lists of tasks within each project vertically that can be moved, coded and deleted when completed, and several “Boards” like this for the different areas of your life.

If you keep listing all those things you need to “Do,” however, two things can happen. First, you become caught up in constant reprioritization so that nothing really moves from “Do” to “Done,” and second, you become so overwhelmed with all the things you need to do and all the additional “Do”tees (okay, duties) that keep getting piled on your plate that you resign yourself that there’s too much to do and become depressed.

Greg McKeown, a writer for the Harvard Business Review, has authored a great book call “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” which helps the reader to be disciplined enough to say “No” to more and more requests to “Do.”  That’s all well and good…except if you’re at the bottom of the food chain, and saying “No” to your supervisor is only done if you have a new job already lined up.

So here’s a practical way of not feeling overwhelmed: Don’t call it a “Do” list!  “Do” implies you “must” do the tasks on the list.  And it may be the case that you “must,” but plowing through all the “do” things just to find there are more “do” things creates a negative attitude toward the word “Do.”  Therefore, let’s shift our thinking to something a little more positive, and call it a “Waiting” list.

Waiting lists are great for private, faith-based and other educational environments.  Public schools don’t normally have “Waiting” lists, except for exclusive, beta or experimental programs that require certain student criteria and/or standards be met.  If the student doesn’t participate as expected or exhibits behavior contrary to the conditions agreed to at the start of the program, the student is out, and another from the wait list can fill the slot.

In private and faith-based schools, being “Waitlisted” is one of worst things a parent can hear.  It creates “buzz” among parents, but it’s the kind of buzz that schools would pay for.  When a “Waiting” list is formed and then made public, suddenly parental interest in the school increases exponentially!

By changing your “Do” list to a “Waiting” list, you now have all of these things that are waiting for your attention, rather than all these things that are screaming for it.  You are now in control of what you want to “Do,” rather than being overwhelmed by the mounting items placed upon your plate.

Think of it this way: what would you rather give your attention to…a classroom of students who are all huddling around your desk clamoring for your attention by seeing who can shout your name the loudest, or a classroom of students who you can call upon to answer a specific question at the proper time within the planned lesson?