Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why I'm Never Making Another To-Do List Ever Again

I hate "to-do"Lists.

I always have.

And yet I make them.

I always have.

I guess I just keep thinking that one day I will check every last thing off that list. And when I imagine how that will feel...well it goes something like this....

One day I will get up, ready to rock, my to-do list in hand, and will one by one, check every single task off the list. When I've checked off the last task and my work is done, I will feel a sense of accomplishment and the license to put my feet up, breathe in the sweet scent of cleaning supplies filling the house, have a slice of the delicious freshly-baked chocolate cake that of course popped out of the oven exactly on cue, the moment I finished my "to-do's." And which I can eat without guilt since I of course ran 6 miles that day. Duh...it was on my to-do list. I will push my perfectly-styled hair out of my face, since of course showering and primping was part of my to-do list, right after that run. I will take a sip of my coffee. And I will just. Breathe.

This is the kind of idiotic, idealistic and impossible thinking that prompts me make to-do lists that I never DO. And you don't have to tell me this all adds up my being a "type A"/obsessive compulsive nutcase. I'm well aware.

What always happens is I check a few off and then the sheer number of things still remaining overwhelms me and I end up rebelling against my own to-do list! Then I feel like I'm a loser at everything: Loser Mama, Loser Friend, Loser Writer, Loser Blogger, Loser Editor, Loser Ship-You-the-Stuff-You-Ordered-From-Me, etc. I feel frustrated with myself and can't even feel good about the stuff I DID get done.

It's really awful. Except that I really like writing with my favorite Sharpie Extra Fine pens. Like...a lot.

But anyway...
I think I get LESS done when I have an exhaustive to-do list with dozens of items than if I just get through the day doing what I can, when I can.

So today I tried something new.

Instead of writing tons of tasks I am quite aware need doing and would do, without the to-do list (dishes, countertops, moving laundry through, picking up the morning mess the kids left behind, etc.), I wrote down names.

Yes. Names. Four names to be exact.

Two were friends. One was a writer I'm working with. One was my 4-year-old.

All four people were people with needs I specifically wanted to address today. I could have made a list of individual tasks related to those names that would have overwhelmed and probably shut me down. But somehow four names on a paper, all four whom I like a great deal, felt do-able. I hoped.

And it worked!

It kind of surprised me! There were unexpected phone calls, interruptions I hadn't anticipated, additional tasks I'd not counted on that presented themselves, pink applesauce I hadn't planned on finding smashed into my rug, but I took them in stride because they didn't block me from dealing with the four people on my list.

I texted one friend. I emailed the other friend and then worked on some art stuff she and I are collaborating on. I talked to the writer on the phone, re-read some writing he did and then emailed him some follow-up thoughts. And I purposely spent time just sitting and scratching my son's back, listening to him talk about Thomas the Train and who has "passenger cars" versus who doesn't.

And I feel...strangely peaceful.

My hair is not done. I never put make-up on. But I didn't go anywhere and James thinks it's cute when my hair is all crazy! I didn't push "enough" laundry through. But there are four people who I loved, connected with, took care of, reached out to, helped, encouraged and gave my best.

And it feels so great. And I'm going to keep doing this, as long as it continues to work. No more To-Do lists for me! I'm going to make People Lists.


Ken Silva said...

"@RealKenSilva not slamming me personally so easy 2 say but still: how about we all just not read it? he doesn't allow comments so why??"

And where exactly does e.g. Brian McLaren allow comments on his blog?

O that's right, he doesn't.

Cheryl Ensom Dack said...

Hi, Ken. I have never been to Brian Maclaren's blog. But I did visit your blog the other day because of a Tweet I saw and would have loved to have been able to leave a comment/interact with you, but then realized you don't allow comments.

Noticed you do a lot of personal attacking, though, and, as I'm sure you realize, that hurts people. I don't know if you've thought about it this way, but when you speak "for God" and you speak hatefully/unkindly, it's not helping folks, many of whom have already had bad experiences with institutional church/mainline Christianity. I may not be an evangelical Christian anymore, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate Jesus' example of love and compassion. As you know, he ate with, hung out with and loved on "known sinners" and won them over with his love. There is nowhere that he exhibited the kind of rage/pointed disgust that you do on your blog, except for one, and that was directed at people in spiritual authority who were mis-representing God and cheating innocents in the name of God.

I just don't understand how your voice/message/delivery is pointing people to that Jesus. I wish you could read your blog from others' perspectives and see how not-Jesus-like it sounds. You practically spit on people when you write about them. I'm not even talking about your beliefs or the fact that you and I have very different ones. I'm fine with people having different beliefs and i enjoy discoursing with them about those differences. I don't need someone else to be wrong to prove that I'm right. I'm open to growing/changing. So it's not that I disagree with your beliefs; it's that I don't like the way you personally attack people.

The reason why I tweeted the bit you quoted above in your comment was because it just seems silly to keep visiting your blog and reading you judging people who you don't even give an opportunity to comment/interact with you. I am guessing you don't want to interact; you just want to say what you want to say. That's fine, but that's not the sort of blog I have any interest in reading. I think others would do well to just not read what you write, especially when it's about them. It just makes those you target feel misunderstood. It's as if you position your self on a tower in the middle of town and yell obscenities and insults at people but then hide so no one can rebutt you or engage with you about it. And you hide until the next time you come out and launch into more insults. What I'm saying is everyone should just not go out to the town square and listen to you. If you want to get out of the tower and engage WITH people, great. But if you're just going to be yelling I'm not listening and I would hope other wouldn't, either.

Ken, I'm sure you are strong enough and smart enough to engage with the people you are talking about, so why don't you give it a try? It might feel intimidating, but I think you'd find you get a lot further if you have a discussion rather than a monologue.

If and when you decide to allow comments, let me know. I'd love to participate in a real conversation with you. Until then, I won't be visiting your blog.

Lastly, I know you're a real guy with a real life, even though it would be easier to just think of you as "that angry, rude blogger." But I have to insist that I see/think about that, even to myself! So I am and I do. That's what Jesus did, over and over in every interaction he with people. I think sometimes in our anger we objectify one another, especially online. But if you'd like to engage as a real person with me, the real person, I'm always up for that. I'm sure you want to be understood just like i do. Anyway, just want you to know that I am not objectifying you or thinking of you as "bad," despite the hurtful things you write about and anything I've written here.

Cheryl Ensom Dack said...


I'd love for you to read about my experience with Christianity, Ken. It's called The Fairytale and it's here: http://livinginabeautifulmess.blogspot.com/2010/03/fairytale.html And if you'd like to read it and interact with me about it, I'd like that. Also, if you want to tell me about you and who you are, I'd love to read/interact with you about that, as well.

Hope you have a great day.

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