I am obsessed with to-do lists. It gives me a sort of high to get stuff done. But everyone has a cheat day where they don’t make a to-do list and freestyle through twenty-four hours sort of sitting back and letting time do its thing. But recently I haven’t had the room for such days. There’s always something to do if it’s not work-related it’s health-related. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. As I leaf through my notebooks and diaries I am hit by the sheer magnitude of how much I have done. All things considered, to-do lists are a way to celebrate achievements day after day. It keeps me going.
As someone who is pessimistic and underconfident, a to-do list comes to me as a relief and a shade of optimism in my otherwise negative character. But I don’t think anyone can be completely pessimistic, it’s physically impossible. So as I tick off things to do, I feel a sense of shedding some of the anxiety that I wake up with every morning. I’ve come to love calendars and to-do lists, not just because it’s a way to keep track of things but because I can ease myself into tasks without losing it like a headless chicken.
Some days though there’s just too much to do and no matter how many lists you make it’s just impossible and on those days one must accept defeat graciously. I think of life as one long to-do list. A very long one that for some reason never feels like it will end. When you start thinking about all the things you want to do before you die, you realise that if you were to do all of those things perhaps you’d have to be immortal. I stare down at today’s non-existent to-do list rather a blank page where there should have been a to-do list and I do so with a grimace as I think of how slow the day has been going.
Some days you just don’t feel like it, but we all have the tendency of being overly-ambitious. Some days you just want to be a lump, what do you do on such days? Everything inside you demands procrastination. You really start to calculate the risk of what not doing something would mean to you. But as things stand not doing something now means you must get around to it at some point and every day you carry it forward and it stays forever incomplete.
Today I feel like that ungracious lump, particularly because I’ve fortunately not been assigned too much to do so I can take out precious time to ponder my long to-do lists, which is really not that interesting. I think I started making lists when I was fourteen and since then I’ve never looked back. For some reason, I had this peculiar habit of signing my to-do lists after they were completed. I think I didn’t want anyone to ever be able to stake claim to those to-do lists. Also, it was great practice for a classy signature. Soon enough I grew out of that habit and my signature stayed extremely unimpressive and lacking in creativity. As a side-note that’s because the guy taking my signature for my passport didn’t give me enough time to think up a stylish signature. I choked and ended up signing it in a hurry, and now I’m stuck with it for life.
Anyway, today I made no to-do list, and it feels rather odd to me and out of character. If this were a novel it would be cited as a mistake made by the author. But luckily I am the author and I can take some creative liberties and accept the character is a flawed one. I also developed a habit of making to-do lists for others. Not that they really appreciated to-do lists like I did. But, I felt like I was really helping them and in actuality, they were really not interested. Some people are serial procrastinators and others are walking and talking human planners with an impeccable penchant for chalking everything out in their brains.
Today without my to-do list I feel disarmed and rather aimless. I haven’t set any daily targets and I’ve sort of pushed everything around a bit taking the liberty to watch more YouTube videos than I usually do, starting work late, replying to e-mails an hour after they arrived rather than as soon as they arrive in my inbox. It’s like a day out of someone else’s life. Today’s to-do list is empty and I think I missed a few things that I had to do today but I can’t remember what no matter how much I try. Winging it is not me, but it’s fun. I think I am continuously changing things up these days because of the fear of missing out.
Following routines was what partially brought me to this over-anxious and depressed state and now the minute I see a habit developing I fight it scared that I might fall into the rabbit hole again. I don’t like to admit it but it’s true. Maybe why I keep returning to the same habits is because in a way that is me and instead of fighting myself I should embrace it to-do lists and all. But how? And I guess that’s the question I have got to answer for myself by the end of this year. That’s the most important task on my to-do list this year. I have never wished more for some clue as to where to start. Self-discovery, I am going out on a limb and say is less glamorous than coming-of-age novels, movies and television series make it out to be and that is a real bummer.