Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Torture, Terror and Tyranny of the To Do List

Can't live with them; can't live without them. Without my to do lists I would be totally lost in my life and would forget important things and have to pay crumby consequences. But they keep me feeling anxious, miserable and less than at the same time. I have made lists, lists of lists, master lists, and lists of why I hate lists. In the beginning I felt better when I made lists - it felt like I had accomplished something. But right away I felt rebellious - as if someone else had imposed this list of chores and that I needed to protect myself. So, I'd go back to bed or the equivalent. Now I just make the lists and start trying to make myself do the stuff on the lists. I've tried rewards but I just reward myself before I've done anything. I love treats. I've tried accountability partners and that works the best but almost everybody I pick lets me off the hook. I must be bad at picking partners. So, then I feel guilty all the time.

Once I made a list of everything I thought was important to do and decided to work on it without interruption until it was done. I had to stay up about 36 hours straight to do it, but I finished the list. I decided being finished was not worth it. Another time I decided not to do another thing till I felt like it. I stayed in bed and read for days. Then one day I actually felt like doing something and got up. Then I just did what I felt like doing and got a lot accomplished. That lasted for several days/weeks and I thought I had found the answer. However, I decided I wanted to go back to school, enrolled and went. Assignments were absolutely necessary to complete when I wanted to or not, so my plan disintegrated.

I'm 65 years old and I don't want to die still being tyrannized by to do lists. My current plan is to make a list of ongoing priorities and work a little on them every day. I'm quite sure that changing this particular character defect will only happen with the help of God. But on my deathbed I'm sure I'm not going to be thinking about what I got accomplished from my lists. I'm probably going to be thinking about the people that I love so they will go at the top of my list!

1 comment:

Adam said...

I like making lists. I have a nagging to-do list that's always present in the back of my head, and it is severely annoying. It gives me constant reminders of itself, I guess to protect itself from being forgotten. Projecting that to-do list onto paper relieves stress to me. I know I can safely ignore and forget the to-do list in my head since I can always just refer back to the paper to see if I've forgotten anything.

Am I weird?

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