I immediately regret this decision

A mistake

A mistake, originally uploaded by greefus groinks.

I must be doing this wrong. By "this," I mean "life."

I keep a set of to-do lists on Remember The Milk. For today, a Saturday, there are six items on the list, including some that would take a few minutes and some that would take about a half hour.

On the Overdue list there are eight items. Several of those are things I’d planned to complete earlier in the week and kept postponing. I’ve already rescheduled things that seemed less important, so I’m staring at a list of tasks that I need to complete if I’m to keep my business afloat.

Not on any list are: baking bread for my family’s Easter brunch tomorrow; buying wine for Easter dinner; cleaning the house because I scheduled a work-related meeting here tomorrow, between Easter brunch and dinner; starting work on taxes; walking around downtown Butler to spot signs for offices for rent; making stew to eat next week. Not to mention eating, sleeping, and staring out the window while my coffee grows cold.

I have read the Getting Things Done book and set up my 43 folders, which are the only things standing between me and total chaos. I understand the GTD concept. Getting going with it feels wholly out of reach.

I’ve done better lately with eliminating anything from my life that isn’t critically necessary (laundry, dishes) or personally important. But my life is still too full.

This makes no sense. Other people seem to manage their lives pretty well. They have no more hours in a day than I do. How do you all manage it?

10 replies on “I immediately regret this decision”

  1. I’m just really ruthless about doing the things I have to do before the things I want to do. And that’s probably not even fair, because I love the feeling you get when you can check something off as done. It just feels so good.

  2. Um, we don’t…we just don’t blog about it.

    Well, actually I do blog about my failure to get things done when I think I can or should — I guess that means I’ll use whatever material I have!!

    But on a practical note, perhaps only pick one or two categories of things to get done to start off. And I have to admit, I’m getting better at either trashing/filing/or taking action with the paper landing on my desk. Otherwise, the sight of all of that *stuff* alone makes me feel overwhelmed.

  3. Regarding Vanessa’s comment — I’ll add something to my to do list that wasn’t on it before if it means I can check it off!

    Inside the mind of a multitasking madwoman…it’s a scary place to be.

  4. I absolutely suck at both getting things done and Getting Things Done™. My so-called trusted system is mostly a repository for stuff I have no intention of doing until the very last possible second, if at all. I spent maybe an hour this morning rearranging and pruning my lists (currently stored in OmniFocus, which is like storing your collection of used twist-ties in a Fabergé egg), with a net gain of probably forty tasks. Great. Just what I needed. No wonder I never want to look at them.

  5. I think we all suffer (at least in some regard) from not-enough-time-itis. The unfortunate part is that you need to realize there will more than likely “always” be something on your list that will remain undone or overdue. And there are yet other tasks that may simply never make it to a list. From an outsider looking in, you appear well managed. For most that is half the battle. My advice is to simply do what you can without allowing your list to overwhelm you. By prioritizing what “needs” to get done and what “must” get done always helps me. Then if I have time left over, I can start working on the things I would “like” to get done.

  6. I do everything as it comes up. This is bad. I don’t prioritize. I let the day happen. I used to watch that show “Super Nanny” and on that show, my lifestyle approach wrecks havoc in a home. The only reason I’m able to get away with it is that I’m single. So I try to imagine Super Nanny coming in and watching me live a day and what “teachable moments” she’d show me on her portable DVD player, what daily schedule she’d tape to my fridge. A friend of mine bought this organizer called “The Uncalendar” from People Systems. It’s got all these colored boxes so you can list appointments, plan the day and week, create checklists and reminders, articulate work and life goals. “The UNCALENDAR becomes a platform for ‘life change.'” I have tried to use this calendar, but I find that articulating my lists and goals is as time consuming as just freaking doing the stuff.

  7. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who has trouble with this juggling. (Except for Vanessa, who grows more impressive every day.)

    I think I lose time in prioritizing. That is, I spend time and energy fretting about which thing is the most important and best thing to do next, rather than just doing something even if it’s not the “best” next thing. Yesterday I got myself going by doing something that I could check off easily, and got that charge that many of you mentioned.

    Also: I need to drink more water. I get tired and cranky when dehydrated, and my caffeine consumption puts me constantly at risk. This may have been part of the trouble yesterday. Feeling much less hopeless today, and proper meals and liquids may be part of the reason.

    Susan, I do that same thing of adding things to the list for the pleasure of checking them off. And I am brought low at the sight of great piles of paper.

    India: “…storing your collection of used twist-ties in a Fabergé egg” may be the funniest metaphor I’ve heard this year. I fear my lists too.

    RebelliousFlaw: Excellent point about doing small things and not allowign the list to overwhelm.

    Cathy: I am completely sure that I would spend hours with the Uncalendar and end up farther behind than at the start. Still, I would enjoy it for a while. Love stationery products!

    Please keep adding suggestions and commiserations. Your comments are helpful to me, and surely to others too.

  8. I, too, am a sucker for stationary products. I love these cool To-Do list pads from knockknock.biz. At the bottom it says “Make a list—you’ll feel better,” which is true. They have different quadrants for Tasks, Correspondence and Errands, which works nicely with the Getting Things Dong logic of grouping to-dos into types, so you can tackle whatever your mood and energy level are up for. They also have a nifty “Finish By” date, which I refuse to ever commit to. To do so would only make me a constant failure.

    I actually have a theory about our lack of getting things done. I think it’s a form of passive-aggressiveness against our selves. We’re doing too much, and part of us really wants us to stop. But the productive part won’t listen. “Don’t DO things? What value would I be then?” So the only defense mechanism the other part of us has is to fail to accomplish the tasks for which we are responsible. “Go ahead and make your stupid lists,” it tells the productive self, “but I’m not helping you get it done. We’ve done enough already.”

    This psychoanalytical moment brought to you by Julie Bright & Dark.

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