Thursday, September 22, 2011

Goal List vs. To Do List

Anytime I write “versus” I hear the Rocky song in my head, but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, I use to be a HUGE fan of the to do list. If it wasn’t on my list, it didn’t get done. I’m even embarrassed to say that I wrote down personal notes to call and catch up with friends (maybe I'm lucky and they aren't reading my writing blog.)

For me, the to do list method work beautifully and for some writing moms this technique may still be a fine strategy. After only a few weeks I found it terribly depressing. Part of it may have been that I wrote EVERYTHING down. I had to find a compromise and I have to give credit to NY Times Best Selling author Bob Mayer in helping me find my way back to breathing normally when all I could see were my unchecked lists growing longer like some horror movie monster! I read Bob’s book ‘Write It Forward: From Writer to Successful Author’ and loved it. One of the things he suggested was making two columns, a to-do list and a completed list. This way at the end of the day when you see the things you didn’t get done you still see everything you accomplished.

I loved that idea and use it but I took it a step further to help me as a writing mom, especially with a 14-month-old. Instead of a traditional "to do list" I use a goal list. This way my lists are never too long or overwhelming looking. It doesn't mean I don't get done all that other stuff that I need to get done, it just means that I use my "goals for focus" list to keep on track with what I NEED to do to keep to my personal writing plan. For example, here is my "goal for focus" list for today.

Goals for Focus:

Middle Grade (I always start on my fiction writing goal first)

Finish non-fiction outline

Revise/practice Webinar Power Point

Promote Writing Moms class/ revise lesson plans

Review column schedule for next week

That order follows and keeps my work in line with my goals that fit my strategic career goal. Those are not my only tasks for the day. I’ll fit social media in and email follow-ups around as needed but I will keep that list in front of me to stay on task.

Also, by working from a goal list vs. a to do list, especially as a working mom everything just seems more manageable. I have to admit though that I still do write EVERY little thing I accomplish whether it is following up with an email or re-posting my blog on my author Facebook page on that “completed” list. It makes me happy seeing that list grow and grow and when I’m tired after a long day with baby and writing it’s amazing how good one list can make me feel!

But how do I do all this with a toddler and manage to do normal housework and have a life? I must compliment my husband for his support and I do use a nanny for a few hours a week but I do not have her tomorrow and my husband has a demanding job of his own. I’ve simply learned through self-study tactics what works for me and my baby.

It’s simple things like how to really make the most of some of your least expecting mommy moments and knowing how to divide your goals into the best day parts for you. I’ll discuss it all during my month long Writing Moms: How to do it all without losing you mind workshop this October. There are still seats available for only $20.


I will be hosting a FREE live webinar on September 26 6:30-8 PDT with Farm Dogs USA titled ‘Caring for Special Needs Dogs.’ My lecture will be based off my book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ along with new research. Click here for more information.


  1. It's a challenge for me to balance everything I need to do in a day with my writing. Sometimes something suffers, either the housework or the writing. I joined ROW80 last round and setting weekly goals really helped me focus and organize better. Sometimes I don't get everything done daily, but often I can balance it all out over the course of a week. I'm also part of the Life List Club and that helps we work out longer term goals. I've learned to be more flexible with goal setting. Sometiems I have to revise my goals along the way.

  2. Sonia,

    Being flexible is very important. I struggle with that from time to time. It's so hard not to want everything right NOW! LOL!

    Thanks for the comment and have a wonderful Friday.


  3. A solid strategy. Far too often i find myself not being able to keep up with projects and bouncing to friends' blogs to comment. This weekend I actually managed to get caught up to the point that I feel like I can breathe. There are a few tasks for every day and while my browser looks like a to-do list right now the goals will be accomplished. It's a great feeling.