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  • Kate Buckman

2-4-6-8, I Don’t Want to Migrate

Updated: Jul 26, 2019

To-do lists don’t ever get shorter. You aren’t going to finish it. Don’t try. Just finish TODAY. Let them “migrate” the unfinished tasks to your tombstone. 

About a year and a half ago, I adopted a #bulletjournal system for work. At first I thought it was brilliant. I organized things by the month and week and set up a couple of sections for categories of notes that seemed to recur every week. I kept the running to-do list, and each week I migrated unfinished tasks to the new week’s to-do list. I kept the system up for several months, which for me was a huge achievement. But I wasn’t feeling any more productive. In fact I felt just as untethered as I had for the last several years, but worse because I had such excellent documentation of all the ways I was failing. 

Looking back, I see that the bujo practice of migration had only made the severe burnout I was experiencing worse. As the list of unfinished tasks I needed to migrate forward got consistently longer week after week and month after month, my ability to focus and prioritize declined. It was demoralizing. 

The problem was the expectation that the to-do list was something that could be completed. I know that task migration is about prioritizing and organizing, and that “inbox zero” isn’t the point, but in terms of the non-rational, emotional response to a weekly list of tasks--it feels like I should be able to check everything off.

When I changed my perspective and started thinking of the to-do list as a permanent part of life, my anxiety dramatically dropped. I no longer migrate whole lists of unfinished tasks. I migrate a small number of tasks from the master to-do list to my daily plan every day. I no longer sit at my desk staring at an endless, growing list of my own inadequacies. I accept the list for what it is and get some stuff done. Forever. Because the to-do list won’t be finished until I am, and I’m not finished. 

If this resonates with you, maybe my Mindfulness Planners and Notebooks are right for you.


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