I am rather obsessive about making my to-do lists. Occasionally I will write the t-do list for the following day throughout the day before, whenever another errand or appointment comes to mind. Usually, though, I sit down on the bed before I go to sleep and list all of the tasks to be done the following day. Throughout my house are many boxes filled with small notepads, which tell the history of my last 6 years or so of life. I wonder if these notebooks filled with to-do lists are ever discovered by someone, say 100 years from now, if the lists will even make sense. “What does write a check for rent mean? What are oil changes? Perhaps, perhaps not.
So, my to-do lists. Despite my best intentions and numerous articles I’ve written on the subject of both time management and to-do lists, mine are out of control. On any given day I will have 2-4 tasks listed. When I attempt to narrow down things to be accomplished, which are most important with stars next to the activity meant to be done, I still forget about 3/4 of the things I planned to do.
The primary reason for this, something that I’ve delve further into on another post, is the failed brain surgery I underwent a year and a half ago. Since then my memory, which was pretty good for the most part, is mostly gone. Names, doctor appointments, freelance gigs, calls to make. Even if listed in any number of my notebooks scattered across the house (my plan was to make it easier by having one notebook just for meals and desserts I want to make, the second is a journal of the times medications are taken, the other was to be blog ideas and things I want to create soon- more lotions, salves, deodorant, etc. The constant pain I’m in means that It’s a rare day that more than 3 things on my to-do list are done. I am a perfectionist with the attention span and memory of a child. Even if I sit down first thing in the morning with coffee and list in hand, two hours later I will have wandered off on some online winding path to enter a new giveaway, browse through vegetarian blogs. I try relisting items I’ve not completed due to immense pain. distraction or both, but I can honestly say all that does is make me feel lousy. I have had, “List few items on eBay” now for an entire month.
A writer friend of my husband suggests setting a time period for each activity that must be accomplished that day, along with an alarm set, when say, I decide I need an hour each day to blog. Get the blog post done in an hour, go! I can see how this is a useful system. In school long ago I always did my best work by procrastinating as long as possible, and then writing extensively researched essays the night before they were due. I meant to start allotting a set amount of time for each project or task today. I even wrote down how long I estimated each activity would take if I eliminated the time it takes to check email 40 more times in case any freelance work has come through, while also erasing the siren song that is Pinterest and the food, books, farm/garden blogs I follow. Perhaps I could allow this as my reward for getting the important things done each day.
To-do listed activities, chores, errands are next to impossible to complete when one is ill, suffers from a disability or disorder. I always have the last two, and often have the illnesses too because of being born premature with CP. I try to accomplish the most important-have-to-get-done-or-all-hell-breaks-loose items, check them off and proceed to the next to-do. This is hindered by the logistics of nap time in the living room where the computer is (so no work can been done in this method for 2-3 hours a day.) It’s also mt nap time- I requirement if I hope to reach the end of the day without internally screaming in pain. Whether one is healthy or not, it’s frustrating to not have the energy, focus or clone of yourself who doesn’t need another surgery and never suffers sinus infections and falls down stairs. She would be able to complete these exhaustive 4-page to-dos.
The effects of not accomplishing my goals (which is ultimately what the bulk of to-dos are about, i.e. takes pictures of products for eBay, finally set up Etsy store, start creating natural products now, so everything is ready for Christmas) are seen and felt in several ways. First, my self worth takes a nose dive. Why can’t I get simple tasks done? Why am I so tired and sick near constantly? Why and how, have I gained enough weight to put me squarely in the overweight category on all BMI calculation sites? The answer, most often, as I mentioned before, is that the brain surgery that was supposed to heal me was not done properly and since that time my pain has been out of control. This causes exhaustion, no matter how many hours my sweet husband lets me sleep. I don’t cook as much for my family like I want to, because if I get any break in the pain I usually spend it doing lowest-bidder wins type of freelance work (via Odesk,com).
How do you, blogger friends create time and space in your life for what is important to you? I feel like my butt’s glued to the computer chair most of each day, as I look for more writing or editing projects, try to create a menu plan (which I really suck at!). pay bills, balance the budget. The things I want to do- cook, create, be even slightly less pained, spend time away from technology and with my family are pushed aside with all the have-to-does instead of my want-to-dos!