Doing My To-Do List

22 Nov

After a summer of accomplishing pretty much nothing except working, sleeping, eating and running, I find that there are way too many things I’ve been putting off for way too long. So instead of letting them overwhelm me and keep me from sleeping at night, I have started one ginormous To-Do List. If I think of something that should be done, but can’t do it as I’m thinking about it, I write it down. My goal is to do 1 thing on my To-Do List every day until my To-Do List is gone. I am also trying to do things as I think about them, if it’s possible, instead of seeing something that needs to be done and making a mental note to do it later. I figure I can avoid a lot of unnecessary brain clutter this way.

This has several benefits. First, it gets these thoughts of things to do out of my head so that I can fill my brain with more important thoughts. I don’t have to constantly be remembering the things I wanted to do.

Second, it has helped me balance work with rest. I can be productive and still have some free time. I am a person who swings from one extreme to the next. I can spend one day lying on the couch and doing nothing but watch bad movies or re-run marathons and then spend the next doing chores and errands from dawn until dusk. (More than once, I’ve wondered if I might be slightly manic-depressive.) The usual result of that whirlwind is that I’m exhausted the next day and feel like I spent my whole previous day doing things I didn’t want to do but “had” to do.

This list has helped me balance my 2 extremes out. After work or church, I look at my To-Do List and find 1 thing that I can (and want) to do. Some of them are small things like organizing the shoes in the closet by our front door. Or writing a letter to our Compassion child. Or finishing the painting that has been sitting in our living room unfinished since last Thanksgiving. Some of them are big things like painting our bedroom. Or writing and mailing our Christmas cards. Or transferring my 401(k) funds to my Roth IRA (ugh).

After I finish the task, I go scratch it off my list. If I feel like doing something else on my list, great. But if not, I have accomplished my goal of doing 1 productive thing. And then I have the rest of the day to spend as I wish. I CAN have both work and rest in the same day!

This past weekend, I succeeded at this. On Friday night, I wrote a letter to our Compassion child. On Saturday, I finished the painting in our living room (only took me a whole year!). Yesterday, I sorted out the enormous stack of magazines I had collected, ripping out articles I wanted to keep and recycling the rest.

Third, this list has helped me get things done that I want to get done without having to really rack my brain to remember what they were. When I have some free time, I can use it effectively instead of walking from room to room trying to think of something to do or just wasting the time by watching TV. I have been convicted lately that watching an inordinate amount of TV like I had been doing is just a huge waste of life. I feel just as relaxed when I read a book but I feel way more productive and more educated from reading. So I’m trying to only watch TV with Travis or when there’s really something good on (like Thursday nights with Bones and The Office).

So what’s on the docket for today? Scheduling dentist appointments. (Boo.)

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