Moronic Musings

and other junk as it occurs to me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

TheTricky Art of Doing The To-Do List

If you were to enter our house, step over the unpacked boxes of junk we don't really need but keep anyway, maneuver to our kitchen and look at the front of our refrigerator, you would see three things.  A magnet in the shape and image of a Little Brown Dog, a printout of a generic shopping list template found somewhere online, and a very neatly handwritten list entitled "Things to work on @ house."  It is this third item about which I will aimlessly pontificate in this particular entry.  Here is the list as it is written:

Things to work on @ house:
-Light outside our bedroom
-Pull out drawers in kitchen
-Door for girls' bathroom
-Organize attic
-Cover windows in our bedroom
-Walkway in front of house
-Paint front porch
-Doorknobs -- Re-key
-Ceiling fan in bedroom
-Mower wheel
-Fix girls' bedroom door
-Fridge leaking
-Fill in holes in yard

Many people keep lists like this.  I would bet that you, Dear Reader, most likely have a list such as this on your own refrigerator or counter, or maybe just in your head.  For most people, lists are helpful reminders that enable them do what needs to be done.  For me, the Potentate of Procrastination, such lists are very nearly the bane of my existence.  They hang there and mock me with all the things I have yet to accomplish.  To me, the very average list above might as well read:

-Build full-scale replica of Great Wall of China out of toothpicks
-Cure common cold
-Win Olympic gold medal in decathlon
-Find constructive use for dark matter
-Time travel and stop invention of Disco
-Eat just one Lay's potato chip

You get the idea.  What happens when I read it is that all of the individual items turn into a kind of lumbering monster; the ogre that gleefully dares me to come trip-trapping over its bridge.  Each time I cast a wary glance at the aforementioned agenda, I have a keen sense of what Sir Edmund Hillary must have felt when he first gazed upon the vast icy wall that was Mount Everest.  I also have what I believe to be an accurate idea of what must have been going through his mind at that very moment: "What was I thinking when I said I'd do this?!"  I'm with you, Eddie.  How about we forget about that silly old hill and go grab a Jamocha shake?

Yeah, that's pretty much what I'm thinking when I look at it.  BUT... if you truly read my list, you noticed that I very adeptly made use of the "strikethrough" feature on a few items when formatting this post, meaning yes, I really and truly have completed some of the tasks.  You math majors out there may have already established that I have accomplished just under 25% of what is written there.  Hopefully, by the end of the day I will have completed at least two more.  There's no guarantee, but it's my goal.  Herein lies something that it has taken nearly all of my adult life to learn: you accomplish things by actually doing them.  Okay, that's oversimplified, but it's a nutshell truth.  Remember the old proverb "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?"  That's what I'm talking about.  For many people, this notion is a given, like "breathe in, breathe out."  To me, not so much.  It has taken years to realize that one simply cannot complete an entire job all at once.  Breaking it down into manageable tasks is the key.  So here I am, taking one step at a time.  Now that I'm getting that, I hope to keep it.

In case you're not an inferential reader, I'm not just talking about my to-do list.  I've been learning to apply this lesson to life.  Maybe you can give it a go, too.  Stop trying to do too much at once, because then you can't see all the details and may miss lots of great stuff.  Try just taking it in bit by bit and relishing as much of it as you can.  Kind of like enjoying an expertly prepared meal spent with someone whose company you enjoy completely.  Who doesn't like that?

No comments:

Post a Comment