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Do you do this, too?

Photo 51Every day I make a to-do list. Typically, I write it at the end of the day – so I know what ‘tomorrow’ will look like and so I can really (attempt) to let go of work when I go home, you know, because a piece of paper is holding down the fort for me. (Odd sidenote: my to-do list is the ONLY work thing I do on paper. I’m sure it’s because I LOVE crossing things off the list with a good old-fashioned pen.)

So, the last thing I do before I leave my office is make my new to-do list. The second to last thing I do is look at the current day’s list to take stock of all I’ve accomplished. And, I’ve noticed this pattern recently. Somewhere in between the tasks that I’ve crossed off, the notes that I’ve scribbled down throughout the day and my incessant doodling (3-D boxes and stars circa 2nd grade), there is always one to-do that I did not complete.

It isn’t usually a huge or monumental task, though sometimes it is. And sometimes, it’s the same thing that I’ve managed to not complete over and over, day after day. Point is – there’s always something.

Why? I wonder. Wouldn’t it feel fabulous to have everything done? You’ll have to tell me, I wouldn’t know.

I have two thoughts about my ‘issue’. First, I think it’s left over trauma from college where, if you remember, we were simply never done. Right? There was always something that had to be read or written.

Or. It’s simply that I hate goodbyes and endings (unless it’s a headache or a mean person that I’m leaving), so this remaining task must be some kind of anchor. A thread that ties me back to my office, my business, my writing – making it truly impossible for me to let go and disconnect. Like a love note, promising that I will be back.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Lorraine says:

    I have a similar issue.

    I compose my daily “to-do” on Evernote –love checking off little boxes next to each item.

    I won’t detail my GTD codependency. But let’s just say it’s a rare day that I check off every box.

    On Twitter this morning someone tweeted something like, “Don’t you feel accomplished when you finish your most important “to-do” before 8am?”

    The sad truth for me is, not really. I just look to the next task…

    Thanks for making me ponder my compulsive habit!

  • Edgy Mama says:

    I love your doodles!

    I have a pile of scribbled on to-dos on my desk, and I rarely complete them all by the end of any day. I notice that I tend to procrastinate the items I really dislike taking care of–stuff like paying bills and submitting invoices. I imagine that’s typical!

  • ilinap says:

    I do the exact same thing. And there’s nothing better than the sense of accomplishment of using a pen to scratch out a task that’s done. However, I attribute my leftover task(s) to pure procrastination. I just might start calling it an anchoring mechanism instead.

  • Mary Lawler says:

    I’m a list maker, there is one on my fridge, in my car on my calendar and on my computer. I even make lists for other people to stand as a reminder of the ever present “What do you want me to do?” smart ass remark. For some people there is always something to do, we balance out the terminally lazy. I attribute my left over tasks as trying to fit a 10 pound day into a 5 pound bag. Just to make myself feel better I write down things I have already done, just to give myself the satisfaction of crossing it off. I think it is tied to our sense of accomplishment, but to attach guilt to it is an unnecessary addition to the list. I move the undone to a new list, I’ll get to it, but if it’s still on a list after 6 months I ditch it, it couldn’t have been that important anyway.

  • Karen Toms says:

    I’m so there with you on this one.

    I love the joy of crossing things off my to do list. And like you wonder why there are those 1 or 2 things that get carried through from list to list. I sometimes grit my teeth and make that 1 thing the first thing I do the next day so that I know that it’s not nagging me. Usually the relief of finally crossing it out makes me feel so much lighter that i then wonder why I didn’t do it sooner although I never seem to find the answer.

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