to do list with pen and calendar

Get out a piece of paper and write “Could Do” at the top.

I like “could-do” lists because I find “to-do” lists too dictatorial.

They make me feel pressured and antsy and reluctant and even belligerent — like a pouting high schooler who’s being harassed to do her homework.

But the words “could do” put me in a place of choice.

I could do the laundry, or I could walk around in dirty, smelly clothes.

I have a choice.

Even if the task is something I know I must do, I feel more relaxed if I remember that I have the option to not do it.

Plus, we’re not trying to think of things that you will do for sure; we’re just brainstorming things that you could do. Maybe you will, and maybe you won’t — we don’t know yet. We ’ll just have to see how you feel.

Here are some suggestions about where to start your own could-do list.

1. Write down the name of a person who could really help you out on this project. Maybe it’s someone you know, maybe it’s a hero who inspires you, or maybe it’s someone from ancient history who could serve as an imaginary guide.

  • You might also want to make a note about how this person could be of assistance. Could she give you advice? Introduce you to someone? Cheerlead? Proofread?

2. Write down the name of someone who will not help you out on this project. Maybe it’s someone who will be helpful to you down the road (but not right now), or someone who is always a big ol’ Debbie Downer. Regardless, take a moment to think about the person with whom you will not discuss your project today.

  • Notice that it doesn’t mean that you don’t love him, admire him, value his opinion, whatever — it just means that as of today, you are going to consider the option of keeping this project out of his sticky, sticky hands.

3. Write down one simple, easy, and affordable step you might take toward working on your project. This should be something that will take you less than fifteen minutes and that you can very easily afford. That’s right — I’m talking baby steps.

  • What is one tiny, incremental gesture you might make toward your project today?

Is there:

• something you could research?
• some tool you could buy or borrow?
• some doodle or outline you could sketch out?
• some phone call or email you could easily execute?

Yep. That’s all there is to it.

If you write down one small thing you can do every morning (before checking your email) you will make astounding progress and — bonus — you will feel great.

Because as much as procrastination hurts your heart, moving forward — even just a little, tiny bit — makes your heart sing.


Tell a supportive friend or colleague about your project, and ask them for any encouraging ideas, insights, or suggestions.

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About The Author

Samantha Bennett's picture

Originally from Chicago, Samantha Bennett is a writer, speaker, teacher, and creativity/productivity specialist and the author of the bestselling "Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day" (New World Library)

She is the creator of and, both organizations dedicated to helping creative people get unstuck, especially by helping them focus and move forward on their goals.

Now based in a tiny beach town outside of Los Angeles, Bennett offers her revolutionary online workshops to overwhelmed procrastinators, frustrated overachievers, and recovering perfectionists everywhere.

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