want-to-do list pink journal and laptop

“I Want-To-Do” List

It seems my life is dictated by all the things I HAVE to do out of necessity while everything I want and love to do remains on that proverbial back burner, never to be touched.

Author Austin Kleon says, “Lists give us a starting point.” We always assume it means business or personal tasks that HAVE to be done. When I think of to-do lists, I tend to roll my eyes and let out a deep sigh. I actually like writing out lists (sometimes) but then they get lost or something comes up that’s a bigger priority so the list gets tossed away, rarely ever used. They seem pointless – or unmotivating to me. However, in his book, Keep Going, Austin mentions a friend who had a “to-draw” list.

Ahhh. Now that piques my attention.

It seems my life is dictated by all the things I have to do out of necessity while everything I want and love to do remains on that proverbial back burner, never to be touched. The idea of creating an “I WANT-TO-DO” list is very exciting. Afterall, I have lulls that provide a few moments in between projects or responsibilities that can be filled with something I want to do. When those moments come, I get excited about doing something I really want to do. But then, my brain goes numb and I end up staring at the wall or wandering around the house thinking I’m supposed to be doing something different. Soon, my time is up and I missed out on an opportunity to do something I enjoy or enriching.

Having a list in front of me to remind me of the activities I WANT to do is a terrific idea! An “I want-to-do” list is really a catalog of ideas so that when I’m ready to act on it, I don’t waste precious time and energy having to THINK about it. Really, this is so simple. I already catalog my writing so that when I need an article and don’t have time to brainstorm, I have a catalog of ideas ready to go. Recording ideas, no matter what they are, is a huge time saver and nudges us to act on those ideas.


Today I sat down and wrote out my first “I want-to-do” list. I share it here in hopes that it will spur ideas for your own I want-to-do list.

  • Kayak
  • Take a walk by the lake (3 miles)
  • Edit my book
  • Work on my photo/art prayer journal
  • Start book #2
  • Put up my yoga swing and either workout/swing/or both
  • Read a chapter in a book
  • Play on the piano
  • Do a word search
  • Do a puzzle
  • Decorate my office space
  • Work in my front yard (weeding/trimming/planning)
  • Research starting a greenhouse
  • Get out my tap shoes and learn to tap dance.
  • Learn to play the harp
  • Take art lessons (drawing)
  • Take more photos
  • Go to Dogwood Canyon
  • Send more flowers
  • Write letters
  • Schedule a type-in
  • Join a writing club

Obviously, I can’t do all of these in the short term, but they give me options. They are interests that I have. As I think of an idea, I’ll add it. Perhaps, a few things will drop off as I lose interest. I suppose some folks would call it a bucket list but I don’t see it that way. The ideas I put on this list are options that I can do something about NOW. I may not be able to build a greenhouse in a day, but I can learn something new about gardening and get in the planning stages until one day, I have a greenhouse.

We all have to find ways that inspire and motivate. For me, a traditional to-do list is like a burden. Yet, looking at a list of ideas I WANT to do motivates me to finish projects quickly so I have time to do something on my WANT list.

This actually excites me because every December/January I make another list… all my FIRSTS from the previous year. Everything I did, places I went, or people I met for the first time. Sure, I have regular goals, but my favorite review of the year is looking back at all the new things I encountered. To also be able and look back and see all the things I WANTED to do and did them, well, that makes for a very good year!

What do you think of an “I WANT-TO-DO” list? What would you put on yours?

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