I’m a nerd. A to-do list nerd, especially. I like having a focus—or several—for the day and earning that sense of satisfaction when things get checked off the list.
Yet I’m continually refining the art of to-do list making. I go back and forth between paper and pen lists versus the kind I make in a Word document. Or a bullet point list on my phone. The tactile pleasure of the pen and paper route is great. There’s an added sense of accomplishment in physically striking something off the list. But the computer document has a great function, too, if I don’t let it get out of control: I can amend the day’s to-dos as I move along.
Where the computer doc causes trouble is two-fold: 1) I can continually add to-dos to the day, thus making it impossible to truly accomplish everything and 2) I tend to erase what I have accomplished, so at the end of the day all I see is what I haven’t done.
So I did an experiment this week (as I tend to do such things). I made a new document of to-dos and every time I completed a task, I crossed it out—rather than deleted the item. This was a test to see if I actually found more satisfaction in seeing what’s been done for the day. The result? Sure. There was some joy in seeing checked off items.
The real result, though, is the realization that no matter how I project my day’s activities, I always set overachieving goals. For whatever reason, I can’t bring myself to list just one or two things to do in a day. I aim high, do my best, and push the rest to the next day, or the next. It’s how I operate. And that’s okay. For me, it works.
I love fantasizing about a super-organized life. One that has a place for everything, and where everything is in its place. One that has a to-do list of achievable goals for each day, and that’s checked off in true Martha Stewart fashion. But I’m not Martha. I’m me. Chaotic, imperfect, organized-in-my-own-dysfunctional-way me. And that’s a good thing.