Saturday, November 21, 2009

Time and To Do Lists

I still halfway believe that someday I will finish everything on my to-do list.

To be honest, I have a lot of to-do lists. And I don't really think I'll ever finish the crazy lists, like clearing out my Netflix queue or decimating my reading list.

But the everyday things, the chores, the errands, the work tasks, the letters to respond to--that I kind of think I might be able to finish. It's like this oasis shining in the distance, a magical time when I might go to bed every night with a clear head and wake up every morning to make a completely new list of tasks, because I've finished everything from the day before.

Right now, I might be closer to that ideal than almost any other time in my life. For the past month or so, I've been consistently productive at work, knocking out not only the routine stuff but that nasty stack of crap-I've-been-putting off, with the result that on Friday I actually COMPLETED EVERYTHING. My email box was empty. My folders of miscellaneous tasks were empty. I had no outstanding issues with the people who work for me or with my boss. My to do list for today basically consists of "check email occasionally" and "try not to fall asleep."

Over the weekend, I went through all the stuff on my desk and basically took care of my personal to-do list, too. Sure, there's a couple things left--an item to return, a trip to the DMV--but nothing I couldn't take care of in a single day of average productivity. Yesterday by 3:00 I found myself actually kind of searching for things to do. I made a pie and kept fixing little things in my novel because even though I'd "put in my hours" for the day already there wasn't really anything else that I felt compelled to do instead.

The funny thing is, having an almost clean slate doesn't really make me feel any more relaxed. I have to conclude that stress is not really a function of what I have to do, but of what's going on in my head.

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