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To Do Lists: My Frenemy

To Do Lists are my frenemy. Love them. Hate them. Love to hate them (not so often); hate that I love them (more frequently).

But the plain truth is I would be lost without them. Lately, it’s been seeming impossible to ever get ahead of my lists. (Hence the blogging hiatus.) There are consistently items that get transferred from last week’s list onto this week’s, contributing to an ever growing mountain of tasks to accomplish. This project is not helping. I feel buried under a mountain of things to be reading, not to mention everything else (French podcasts…please take a number, and wait in line). Books for my Islam class, books for work, for ESL tutoring, for the one-a-week quota for this project, and of course, The Economist is faithfully making a weekly appearance in my mailbox to remind me that it’s another obligation, another item for a list. (Although after this week’s issue, I think I actually understand Obamacare and the reasons for the  government shutdown, which I believe is an accomplishment worth celebrating.)

Also, I’m wondering at what point does “this is just a busy week” turn into “this is the norm”. Most Fridays around 5:30 p.m., I get home and am asked how my week was. The typical answer is “Good, but tiring. It’s just been a busy at work.” However, I don’t think we are necessarily busy. Or rather, we are not busy at an unusual pace. After all, it’s called work because it’s work. I think that this pace is the new normal, and I’m going to need to figure out how to cope rather than have run-on to do lists each week. Today (Saturday) I  decided I wanted to force myself to relax and not live by a list for a day… then remembered the projects that didn’t get done yesterday that have to be done before tomorrow. A bit of running around ensued and delivering an important project to Staples was bumped up to after my shower and before putting on my makeup (that’s why Staples has customer restrooms, right??).

On top of all of my lists, how am I supposed to have time (or energy) for baking bread, or going cycling, or redoing my metal trunk turned coffee table (before and after pictures will probably be posted soon), or having my neighbors over for dinner, or enjoying the crisp fall air and hiking? All of which are things I really, truly want to do. Then there are also the things I don’t really want to do, of course. They usually don’t even take that much time. Things like physical therapy exercises (feeling of obligation usually wins out on this one), doing my dishes (…they don’t sit in the sink that long), flossing my teeth (yea, dream on!). My current plan of action is to make a list. Write down everything I feel a desire or a compulsion to do, and then get to doing all those to do’s. Maybe it’s an obsession. I even keep pens and a pad of paper on my night stand to write things down as I’m drifting off to sleep.

If you’re a Pinterest post-er, you might have seen the motivational image of a runner with the saying “Someone busier than you is running right now.” Talk about a guilt trip! But it’s true–I am not the busiest person. Someone else is doing more and sleeping less. (That may or may not be healthy.) The point is: my to do lists are not extreme. I am not significantly more busy than other productive people. So as much as I do not like the feeling of my pace of life right now, I am satisfied with the actual amount of to do’ing that I’m doing. So I suppose I’ll add “find and practice better time management techniques” to my list for this week. Surely that’s something you would learn in an actual grad school!

(And if any of you out there have tips on time management–help a sister out! “Leave a Comment” link at the top left of this post.)

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One thought on “To Do Lists: My Frenemy

  1. Nice post! I too am guilty of transferring things from one week’s to-do list to the next… but we all know I’m not even close to “busy”, at work at least. 🙂 Keep posting though– I’m reading! Love you!

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