Overview: In this short solo episode (ep 131), Adam Williams shares a creative life practice he calls his Log Book of Doings (and other thoughts and practices). It’s a practice of presence, accomplishment and motivation. (Released on podcast on Jan. 31, 2023)
Also on Apple, Spotify, Pandora, Stitcher, YouTube, Google and other players.
EP 131 SHOW NOTES, LINKS & TRANSCRIPT
Connect with Adam Williams
Humanitou on Instagram: @humanitou
Podcast cover art & art below: Adam Williams
“Old Rope” by Joe Johnson | joejohnsonsings.com
Original Written Version
I refer to life and creative practices often here. I suppose it’s a way of seeing and being.
Similarly, as a dad, I often have pointed out the role of habits in our lives to my two sons, reminding them that much of what people do is live by their habits, be they healthy and positive ones or otherwise.
One of the habits, or life practices, I’ve returned to lately is keeping a journal that I call “The Log Book of Doings.” You might have heard of similar things out there called the got-done list or the did-it list.
For me, it’s a simple bullet-point list of the things that successfully crossed from my day’s to-do list to the list of things I can happily mark down as done. They’re the things I did done do.
The value of tracking these things is two-fold:
First, when I’m keeping a daily to-done list, I don’t get hours deep into the day and think, “Where did the day go? What have I accomplished? Aw, man, it got away again.” Instead, I know not only at day’s end but all day long that I’m making things happen, and I can feel good about that.
Secondly, that sense of accomplishment actually motivates me to do even more things that are list worthy. And it doesn’t take a big action to get onto the list, which actually is kind of a third-fold benefit …
So, thirdly, #3 on the list of values about keeping a did-it list, is that I’ve learned I don’t need a four-hour block of time, or even a half-hour window, to do things that are worthy, that give me a sense of accomplishment.
Accomplishment is not time-based. Actually, the more accomplished we are at our skills, the more efficient we become in using them. So we do better work and in less time, which gives us the space to accomplish more good stuff.
Or maybe rest, when that’s the thing. I’m actually not into hustle culture or quantity over quality. That’s not what The Log Book of Doings is about.
Efficient quality, though, brings the artist David Gonzales comes to mind.
In the pre-podcast version of Humanitou, when I’d have long conversations with people and then publish them on the website in a text-based Q&A format, I hung out with David in his art studio in Colorado, and got to watch him work.
His paintings are full of energy and life, and people can feel it when they look at his work. His paintings, to me, seem to fly out of galleries in iconic mountain towns here in the West, including Breckenridge, Vail, Santa Fe and Park City.
But here’s the mind-blowing thing I learned with David. For some of his works, he makes them in only 30 minutes. When he’s painting, it’s a high-energy zone full of movement, his and the action he’s creating within the painting.
So he’s able to make these amazing works in minutes or hours that you might believe would take days or weeks to complete, largely because he has put in years of practice and practice and practice.
But I digress … as I sometimes do. Good – great! – things lie in digressions.
A Charles Bukuowski quote on the subject, “You write me now that the man in the cell next to yours didn’t like my punctuation, the placement of my commas … and also the way I digress in order to say something precisely. Ah, he doesn’t realize the intent which is to loosen up, humanize, relax and still make as real as possible the word on the page …
“An artist can wander and still maintain essential form. Dostoevsky did it. He usually told 3 or 4 stories on the side while telling the one in the center… Bach taught us how to lay one melody down on top of another and another melody on top of that… Don’t let the form-and-rule boys like that guy in the cell next to you put one over on you.”
… But there I (& Bukowski) go, digressing from my digression. So …
Back to the main course: the done-did-do-it list and my log book of doings.
My wife, Becca, makes handmade journals (among many other things). Several weeks ago, I started using a beautiful, five-inch square journal Becca made as my Log Book of Doings. On the first page, I wrote:
“When a day goes missing because I have forgotten all that I accomplished, this book will serve as reminder. It’s a place to gratefully note the good workings of each day. A simple log of the consistent steps that make a body of work and, ultimately, a life, day by day.”
Many activities I previously would have forgotten and, therefore, dismissed as less than worthy accomplishments in a day, now get recorded. Maybe I watched just 15 minutes of Annie Leibovitz or Jeff Koons or Jimmy Chin on the MasterClass app while riding the bike at the gym. Listened to part of a podcast, too. Check. Check. & check.
The bike ride, the podcast and the creativity-inspiring, edifying MasterClass session all get bullet-points in the day’s entry in the Log Book of Doings.
I read 10 pages of a library book that I’ve renewed three times and am taking months to complete? Cool. Good on me. Mark it down. That’s today’s step of book-reading consistency.
In the past, I would have felt that accomplishment only if and when I completed reading the book. And then I quite possibly would have forgotten I read it, forgotten I accomplished a thing at all. Two quick side trails on that:
One, I’ve checked out and read half a book again, because I forgot I’d read it before, and it took me a shocking number of pages of back-and-forth in my mind to figure it out. “Hmmm, this seems familiar … Is it? … Ahh, I’m not sure. I’ll keep reading.”
And two, in the past few years, I’ve started keeping a list of books I’ve read, marked by month and year, so I can be more aware of what I’m accomplishing there, too. So, if that idea stokes something of value to you …
My done-it list is loose enough to not have me spending all day jotting every detail, and inclusive enough to let me know that things big and small matter.
Taking time to get groceries or do the dishes count, because if I don’t notice those daily household chores, it’s easy to lose track of why I “only” accomplished a few of the things I think are most noteworthy, e.g. my writing, art making, podcasting.
I guess, actually, that fosters a practice of awareness, too, a presence to my daily life, to notice even the mundane things and be grateful for them. Come to think of it, there was a time when I kept a pocket notebook of daily gratitudes, too.
That practice of presence, though, means we’re officially now up to a list of four-fold benefit on the value of tracking a got-done list, if you’re keeping score at home.
So, yeah, everyday I note that I did the little things, like school dropoff and pickup with my younger son. And I note household chores.
And instead of those small tasks taking away from the fullness of my day, and having me wonder where the day went, it adds to it.
Of course, this blog post just made the cut in my day’s log book of doings, too.
Now, I wonder: What’s making your did-it list today?