The “To Do” List


As Mrs. Mia Wallace mused in Pulp Fiction, “there are two types of people.” Well, I happen to like both Elvis and The Beatles (although if I have to choose, you know I’d pick The Beatles, obvi), as I believe the population can be split into two different types of people: people who make lists, and people who hate lists.

As part of a personal experiment, I’ve tried lately to make lists to keep myself organized and on-track. I was hoping to learn something from this: maybe I’m a list person! Maybe I can become a list person! Maybe the lists will help! Or maybe, the lists won’t help.

So far, I can’t really say. After three weeks of trying lists, I’m unable to reach any conclusions.

Some days, the list is my BFF. I can cross everything off, and I’m motivated and on track all day long.

Other days (like today), I see everything on the list and I try to do it all at the same time. This results in many things getting started, but nothing getting finished. I resent the list. The list sits open in front of me, glaring, accusatory. I have to leave the room to escape The List. I wander into the kitchen and see dishes that need to be done. “Well, it’s not on the list, but I’ll do it anyway.” I open the fridge and see we’re out of cheese. “I’ll add it to the list,” I think to myself. I look out the window. I see my plants need repotting. “I’ll add it to the list.” The table is covered in receipts and opened mail. “I would sort this out, but it’s not on the list,” I reason with myself.

By the time I return to the dreaded List, an hour has passed and we have remained stagnant in the number of things that remain To Do. I could do the easiest things first, but then harder tasks get pushed back yet again. A new item finds its way onto the list: either something comes up suddenly or I remember an item I’ve forgotten. The list continues onto a new page. Should I add “Make a new list” to the list? List management has become an entirely new task. And what of previous days’ lists? Do I carry them over? “Copy down old list to new list” gets added to The List.

My dilemma is this: I get nothing accomplished without the list. And yet, over time, the list makes me become…listless. And here’s another thing I’ve done that wasn’t on the list. So you know what? I’ll add it to the bottom of the list…and cross it out. There. That’s one thing done, at least. At last. 

3 responses to “The “To Do” List”

  1. When I get overwhelmed with tasks and deadlines, I make a list and somehow getting it all on paper makes me feel it is possible to accomplish. Then I ignore the list until I fee overwhelmed again!

    • Yep, that pretty much sounds exactly like what I’m going through. Ironically, I crossed most of the items off my list yesterday, but I was working on it from 7am until 9 or 10pm, depending on whether you count drunkenly filling out forms as “getting work done.”

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