This is quite embarrassing, but I’m going to tell you anyway.
Because I’m such a lazy sod, and given the choice I could waste every hour of every day doing pretty much naff all, I make lists of things to do so I can focus, but more importantly get some kind of sense of achievement when I don’t piss the day away.
At work, for several years now I’ve used a page-a-day diary for this. I’ll write my list of things to do, and tick them when I’m done. This process has undergone several iterations in its evolution, and I’m going to tell you about them – even though it makes me sound like, well, like the geek that I am.
Colours are important. Green is for “new item”, blue is for “transferred from previous list”, red is for “must do today or else”. Once, black had a purpose, but I now can’t for the life of me think what it was.
Off-list achievements are still achievements. Write them on the bottom of the list and tick them immediately. Otherwise you’ll feel like you did NOTHING when it’s just not true.
Putting off tasks is inevitable, especially when you know they are going to suck. Increase the chances of actually doing some of the least attractive jobs by using many-sided dice, and committing to doing whichever item corresponds to the number you roll. Having a wide selection of dice for this helps if you have, say, 31 items on your list.
Sometimes a tick isn’t enough gamification to keep you interested. At the end of each day, tot up how many things you had to do, how many you achieved, and how many were postponed. These stats can help you gauge how effective you’ve been each day. Can you improve tomorrow?
Can I tell you a secret now?
I do this at home sometimes too. I’m never going to do housework by choice, so making a similar list helps things actually happen. It’s these home to-do lists where I get even more tragic.
Build in rewards by actually including things like “make dinner (3 ticks only)” and “have a bath (6 ticks only)” so you can both get a tick for doing something nice, and also enforce some actual achievement.
But some redundancy is required so a good to-do list item might be “get dressed”, or alternatively splitting things into several tasks like “strip bed” “wash bed clothes” “dry bed clothes” “make bed”.
Can I tell you another secret?
Today’s list include “get dressed” and “get showered” with no prerequisites. I still achieved neither of these things.