creative to-do lists: what’s yours look like?

i’m forever making creative to-do lists!

my creative to-do lists usually are comprised of the following sorts of items: specific creative projects i want to tackle, art of craft classes i’m yearning to take…things of that nature. sometimes they are centered upon a specific creative project, listing the items or tasks i need in order to bring that project to life. it’s sort an adjunct to other brainstorming and organizational practices, like making a mood board (something i’ve gone on and on about here many times before).

simply getting these ideas and intentions out on paper, or typing them out into a computer program specifically like omni-outliner (an awesome outlining program my husband turned me on to long ago, which i use constantly) is immensely helpful because it allows me to braindump, organize the tasks and ideas i have and want to accomplish, and keeps me (somewhat!) accountable to actually getting those tasks accomplished and those ideas fulfilled.


my current creative to-do list currently looks something like this:

-get personal business cards printed (finally!…i need them for like, everything?)
-finish setting up my Etsy store (where i’ll soon be selling some handmade wearable pieces and more (by me!), plus some choice vintage finds, so stay tuned!)
-quilt and bind the quilt i made over the summer (got stuck on the quilting bit, need to research best way of quilting, from some resource that has good, thorough instructions!)
-buy laminate board to serve as portable palette for silkscreening (maybe stop by scrap here in SF?)
-take ceramics class (perhaps at the clay studio, which is one block from my house?)
take patternmaking classes (to get back into the swing of things and keep up with skills)
-take drawing class!
-just plain draw, as often as possible (got out of the habit due to uh, life, work, writing, etc.!)
-improve my photography skills, master my DSLR/SLR.
-knit or crochet a bright, sunshine yellow beret (searching around on ravelry for something suitable as i type this…but this one is rather nice, i must say!)
-design a high-waisted, full skirt, softly gathered into the waist, perhaps make it out of some sort of black, crisp, stiff silk
-design a simple drop sleeve blouse that i plan to fashion out of metallic gold lace (which i plan to wear under the metallic gold tank and gold leather skirt i thrifted many moons ago)
make more cocktail hats


what about you?
what is currently on your creative to-do list?

does keeping lists help you? do you find that writing things down keeps you on task and accountable? or do you write it down, and forget it and never get around to the things you want to do? 🙂

chime in, if you please!


  1. Ashe Mischief

    You might want to fix the link to your Etsy shop– it links me to my own shop set-up page!

    As far as creative to-do list:
    -finish my mood board (which right now, is currently focused on developing an “arts friendly” professional wardrobe)
    -finish making my tiny top hat
    -sew together the two shirts and skirt that I have cut out and patterned
    -complete the miscellaneous clothing projects I have around that need little finishing touches
    -regularly begin shooting photography again
    -make a turquoise wool capelet from this pattern (but I have to find the turquoise wool, first!)
    -re-knit the Amelia Earhart cap I recently frogged

    I love keeping lists– for a while I would do seasonal/monthly lists of general goals I’d like to accomplish. However, this last semester has made things horrifically difficult to find the time for those sorts of miscellaneous goals.

  2. Nancy

    oooh! what a wonderful list, especially because you’ve provided links to resources for things that have been on my creative to-do list for quite awhile too (ceramics! patternmaking! yes!).

    i love lists. more often than not i’m better about buying everything on a shopping list than I am about doing everything on a to-do. my creative to-dos are more about reminding myself of what has excited and inspired me than strict guidelines about how to spend my creative time, but very helpful nonetheless!

  3. lori z

    long time reader re-lurking.

    This holiday season I am making handknit gifts for all of my immediate family members. This list includes
    two shawls (Muir in black Alpaca, Bee Fields Shawl
    Koolhaas in some llama
    some simple socks and simple scarves.

    After Christmas, I would like to return to more sewing.
    I’ve been playing with the “Sew U” shirt pattern and I’d like to make a few more shirts
    The past few months I’ve been subscribing to Burda World of Fashion and I’d like to make some wide legged jeans.

  4. Katie

    I am always writing down creative to-do lists (different from the piles of sketches and half-scribbled ideas in my sketchbook). I try to update my list by going back to the last one, removing anything that I’ve accomplished or just decided to drop, and adding new things (but I keep all the old lists – they’re in a notebook all together). I think I do a new list every 2-4 weeks, depending on how busy I am. Here’s the current list (things with actual deadlines always sit at the top, then ideas about future projects):

    finish popdolls 11/24
    finish new pieces for show 11/29
    Oatlion knitting pattern 12/15
    holiday gifts 12/15
    last club grunion 12/28
    quilt for the grub 3/15
    knitted blanket for the grub 3/15
    puppetshow (punch & judy?)
    mobiles of fastpainting creatures (basswood?)
    picture stories
    stitched pictures: imagery based on what I’m reading
    cut/painted plywood standups
    knitted/felted vessels

  5. Kimberly Lewis

    I am a list maniac! If I don’t have a written list in my sketchbook I am always checking off and adding things in my head.

    I have been in the process of getting together my website, blog and starting an etsy store too!

  6. Iconoclastic

    My current list:

    1. Chinese calligraphy on Tang dynasty poems – I first dabbled in Chinese calligraphy when I was 8 years old and I messed with it for about 5 years before abandoning it for Western calligraphy which I sucked at. So I am the prodigal daughter of Chinese calligraphy, so to speak, haha!
    2. Pick up mosaics and knitting.
    3. Collate my favourite quotes in a handmade book.
    4. Write a screenplay for a short film – I was supposed to finish it by my 21st birthday. Well, I am turning 24 this December and this incomplete task still gnaws at me.
    5. Piano recital of a Christmas carol for my blog readers – I regard this as a Christmas present for my readership; I played “Silent Night, Holy Night” last year. This is also my way of expressing how Christmas can be a simple, personal affair without the commercial ballyhoo.

    Keeping a list helps me to monitor what I have done, what I need to do and prioritise as I add new projects. Plus, it gives me an immsense sense of satisfaction when I cross a listing out! However, I find that telling someone about what I want to do helps more than lists do because I believe once you tell someone, you have to do it! Creative accountability, I call it.

  7. sjw

    i have had this list on the back of my eyelids lately. lets petition for 40 hour days!

    – learn francais betterer
    – do more research on importing and shop opening. it’s hardly creative but it’s a means to a creative end
    – design more bags
    – sew more bags
    – buy pattern making book ( and hope that reading it is a close second to taking a pattern making class
    – immediatly after finnishing reading book make a pattern for a practical winter dress, preferably from beautiful second hand wool knits.
    – graduate from knitting scarves to hats and maybe sweaters
    – blog more which subsequently means take more pictures. i also want to spend less time aimlessly online.

  8. laura

    i love lists! i make them all the time and they absolutely help me to “sort” my thoughts and think about what i really want or need to do. if i notice there is something really important on the list, i mostly realize the plan after a short period.

    what i want to do:
    – draw more often, especially practice drawing people –> finish my portfolio
    – finish some sewing projects & sew some more skirts & dresses
    – make christmas gifts (finish painting for my boy, …)
    – try new techniques like nitrofrottage or assemblage
    – make mood-boards
    – work on my scrapbook
    – master my new cam (read the manual)
    – get better at knitting


  9. Amber

    * finish knitting hat for Jimmy, Noro scarf (xmas gift for someone), and my sweater
    * sew a bunch of little things for xmas gifts (tissue cozies, aprons, coasters, whatever) as soon as my sewing machine gets fixed. it’s been at the repair place for a week!
    * make custom order that I got on etsy
    * make some lip balm & body scrub for xmas gifts
    * make a photo album for my mom’s birthday

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  11. Sarie

    I need to start making my lists, they really keep me going. I have a really boring job and need to get my creativity going again. I think to make, draw and crochet everyday is a good idea. I wish I had more time. Thanks for posting this, its got me thinking about what I need to do!

  12. Jill

    I am a list maker too, in fact I just made one the other day;

    Fix up the blog
    Photograph stuff I have made for the Shop
    Get stuff up in the Etsy shop
    Make several purses for Christmas gifts
    Work on purses for my brother’s fiance’s bridesmaids
    Re-work some vintage and non-vintage clothes
    Sew some clothing from some vintage patterns I have
    Draft something and brush up on my pattern-drafting skills
    Continue to learn how to crochet and knit
    Make a coat for my parent’s dog
    Curtains for the house….

    my list is never ending!

  13. ambika

    I think I have two lists–the one of things I have to do now and the mental one of what I want to do after a certain event has passed (in this case, a craft show the Sunday after next.)

    The mental one can be a bit of a juggle–I really should just write *everything* down & be done with it.

  14. ava

    I create to-do-lists for everything, not just creative things. It truly helps me through the week cause I tend to get busy and want to do everything..

    What’s really high on my list is knitting a hat, finish this shirt I’m ‘designing’ and finishing this bag made of pieces of ols leather from a jacket. A bit of wishing luck is on it’s place here 😉

  15. bethany

    I am a list maker extraordinaire. They keep my on task, allow for ideas to flow, make me consider the future and give me a sense of accomplishment.
    here is a master list – each of these has it’s own list
    •make pennant banner’s
    •create postcards for wholesale info to new shops
    •create invite for 2nd saturday
    •make Christmas gifts for mom and sis
    •blog about t-shirts
    •update etsy shop
    have you heard of Behance? it’s all about list making and productivity. check it out.

  16. Lady Smaggle

    * Make Christmas gifts
    * Make the lace neclace I bought supplies for ages ago
    * Re-string my pearls
    * Clean up my blog roll
    * Make the ankle strap bag I’ve planning to make
    * Learn more about leather and resin (take classes)
    * Iron everything in the ironing basket and mend everything in the mending basket.
    Yeah right!

  17. Ali

    I just did a post about this on my blog.
    I mainly want to just make lots more clothes and do some art- I love painting and doing fashion illustrations, and collages too!

  18. Becky

    I make lists on occasion. Mainly of the “what sewing projects to work on in what order” variety. But for the most part, I’ve given up on it, because I never, EVER stick to it. What usually happens is, something else that I absolutely need to do first comes up, or I get inspired by another piece of fabric, or (most of the time) I’m just more motivated to do something else than I am the first thing on the list. That’s what’s happening right now– I know I need to make an organizer for my jewelry, but I’m feeling far more inspired to work on a Chinese brocade jacket that I got materials for last winter but didn’t have time to get to. I guess when it comes down to it, I’m way too right-brained and an “if it feels right, sew it” kind of girl.

  19. Stephanie

    This is going to sound really lame, but my boyfriend and I (we’re both illustrators/comic artists) recently bought iPhones. We’re using the calendar schedule and unlimited alarms function to give us reminders throughout the day to at least do little babysteps towards our ultimate goals.

    I actually have a timeline of things I need to accomplish to move on to the next phase. I’m 24, and I feel like I’m just now starting to get into the swing of working the 9-5 thing, and being able to find time for friends and creating artwork.

  20. KateK8

    My to do list:
    Block, seam, and sew buttons on my new stripey cardigan
    Finish knitting my Zimmermann hybrid sweater (I just moved to Portland from Southern California, and it’s so cold here!)
    Seam the neon green gauntlets for my roommate because he has been pestering me for them
    Make a queen sized string quilt (actually, it’s the same pattern as yours, what resources did you use for cutting out and sewing the strips? I’ve never made a quilt before, and I’m hesitating because I’m afraid of messing it up)
    Sew pillows for my couch
    Sew the collar back on my puffy vest and add more snaps
    Write a zine
    Get a job in Portland!

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  22. Susan

    Your gold leather skirt reminds me of a vintage item my friend Theresa had many years ago. A gold motorcycle jacket. Which she got rid of. Its loss is that of which she has never stopped lamenting and bemoaning. Poor Theresa.

    My creative outlet these days seems to be delving into the world of sewing, all so new to me. My knitting and crochet has taken a serious back seat, and I feel almost quite guilty about it. My first loves, my stash.

  23. sarah

    yes! I LOVE lists! I make little to do lists almost every day that includes the schoolwork i want to do, chores, creative work, etc. I find it’s a good way to keep balance: I’m more productive and that way, I have daily reminders to get out of the black hole of grad school work (and I find I’m actually more productive in general if I’m doing creative work ‘on the side’).

    Once or twice a year, I like to sit down (for up to an hour, even) and make a giant list of all the things I want to do – somehow, once I get going, I start remembering all those projects that occurred to me in the last few months that would otherwise fall between the cracks. While I only make one or two giant lists a year, I do keep going back to them as the months go on to see if I’ve forgotten anything important, and I keep smaller lists for weekly/monthly goals.

    Right now, I’m working on:

    finishing (tacking up the lining) and finishing the embroidery on the navy wool jumper I made last month.

    finishing (and quilting and binding) the lap quilt I’m making for a relative for Christmas.

    a painting for another relative for Christmas.

    finishing the moose softie I’m making for a girlfriend for the holidays.

    various small projects for girlfriends for the holidays – I want to start packing up their care packages first and then evaluate. Probably some earrings, maybe some brooches.

    putting together a necklace of bright-to-deep pink stones and brass findings that I’ve finally collected all the parts for

  24. alicepleasance

    Lists…? Thruth be told, I can’t really live without them! I have a list for everything, even a journal I only use for writing lists…clothes and accessories wish list, books I’d love to buy (and of course I have a book wish list on Amazon too!), grocery list, food I’ll eat during the week, movies/songs/tv series I love, places I’d love to go…think one and be sure I already did it! Maybe I’m a little obsessive/compulsive…
    By the way, my actual creative to-do list include:

    1. learn how resin works and how I can use it for my jewelry.
    2. make some jam cookie brooches and miniature cake hair pins for my Etsy store
    3. improve my skills with Liquid Fimo (I want make miniature pudding etc.!)
    4. definitely learn how Illustrator and Photoshop work.
    5. keep going on with embroidery, my new love 🙂
    6. Customize the Christmas tree and make handmade Christmas gifts !

  25. jessica

    thanks for the link to apparel arts! i think i might attend their program when i move to SF in a few months!