From the Design Desk: To-Do Lists

Part of the fun of creating to-do lists (other than striking off a finished task) is in writing it. There’s something about quantifying a list of tasks that centers me and makes me feel like any objective is doable. Looking back at written lists of what I did that day, or maybe even didn’t do, makes me realize how far I’ve come since I started.

Luckily, Chronicle Books has a veritable plethora, an embarrassment of riches, if you will, of journals and notebooks, some even already task-oriented! One of my personal favorites is the Mini Goals Notepad because no task is so mini it can’t be solved.

If you need some inspiration for how to keep your very own to-do list, I’ve compiled some of the lists of the design fellows at Chronicle Books. Hopefully these examples will inspire you to do a to-do.

Jackie uses a notebook with dates, but the sticky notes and loose sheets she maintains at the same time reveal how unexpected additions to her day still happen. It seems she sometimes gets ahead of herself and scribbles small additions into every little space she can. It’s amazing how small her handwriting can get, and her system seems to accommodate for a lot of information. I’m sure anyone would need a to-do list system with this much on her plate.

Tara is as organized and clean as she is industrious. Looking at her notebook, I notice that it’s airy, calm, and measured. She isn’t spilling into every available space on the page, probably because she tackles problems and tasks just as calmly. Coincidentally, Tara uses Chronicle’s very own Let’s Bring Back Journal and with it she wishes we could all go back to a time when everyone kept to-do lists.

Danny, like Jackie, is the kind of person who likes to cross off tasks as they are completed. It’s something I’m not as used to doing, but I can understand how it must make no task too big it can’t be accomplished. I think looking back on dates filled with striked-out items would feel really awesome. It also seems Danny combines work and personal tasks together in this book, which is good so everything is in one place. I hope he gets his mother those gifts!

Lydia seems to have both the most difficult and the most fun tasks out of all of us, since when she’s not tinkering on her robot, she’s optioning a wizard on the side. There’s some flair in her work and her lettering shows it. I’m also jealous that she needs to find ice cream, but who isn’t already always doing that every second they don’t have ice cream in front of them?

While at Chronicle Books during my fellowship I’ve started keeping index cards of loosely compiled to-do lists, one for each day. Hopefully I can keep on making a new one every day until this fellowship concludes! The card is usually filled with little reminders, sometimes just notes of something to look up later, names of designers whose work I admire, and mariachi/beluga whale videos I’ve watched online. I do a lot of work here at Chronicle, I swear.

If you want more of a push to complete your own to-do lists, many others throughout history have kept their own to-do lists in their own way. From Benjamin Franklin to Einstein, everyone had to create their own ways of accomplishing tasks, making it visual, and reducing steps down to their most essential parts. If you have an interesting manner of creating to-do lists, please tell us in the comments section, or just put it on your list, I’m sure you’ll get around to it!

Ryan Diaz
Publishing Design Fellow

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