I have come to realise 2 key facts about my life. The first is that I’m the type of person who has to have to-do lists. The second is that my state of mind is heavily influenced by whether or not I tick items off these lists on a daily basis. Does that sound bizarre? I’m guessing your answer will depend on whether you’re a ‘to-do list’ person or not. If not, you’ll likely think I’ve lost my marbles. If you are, you’ll hopefully understand where I’m coming from.
I know that I don’t do myself any favours as my to-do lists tend to be lengthy and aspirational, rather than purely short-term and succinct. My list does contain a mixture of short and long-term entries, though it never seems to reduce in size, primarily as I’m always adding to it. This is where the problem lies. If I have a lazy day and go to bed at night thinking I’ve underachieved, that preys on my mind and I beat myself up (metaphorically speaking). This is a constant. I find it difficult to ditch the lists as I need to have some order and control in my life, though I find it really challenging to keep them succinct and achievable (in so much as I’ll tick every item off before starting afresh).
To combat this, I’ve tried changing my way of thinking lately. As with most to-do lists, there are entries which aren’t that appealing yet need to be done. The type of entry that it’s easy to put off. Then put off again. And again, until it just sits there, a dark and brooding permanent fixture that stubbornly refuses to move and subsequently appears harder to address than ever before. The easier, more pleasant tasks usually take prominence, meaning those nasty entries are continually pushed a little further down the list, seemingly doomed to lurk there for eternity.
To combat this, I’m trying to get excited about everything on my lists (personal and work-based), whether it’s the good, the bad, or the ugly. Rather than fear the problematic tasks, I’m trying to get excited about what might happen when I get complete them. What might I achieve? Which of my other goals do they contribute to? How great will it feel not to be anxious knowing those tasks are still there; watching; waiting; eating away at my self-confidence? How exciting will it be to plough into those quicker tasks and subsequently have the time to really get stuck into the entries which will help me get to where I need to be? The same applies at work. I’m trying to get excited about the prospect of being seen to be a doer rather than a talker. Of being someone who doesn’t shirk the difficult tasks but confronts them head-on. Of being someone who does his job to the very best of his abilities, day in, day out. Because I have to be honest and say that, as we’re now 1/3 of the way through 2020, I’m nowhere near where I wanted to be in terms of personal objectives. Yes, I tend to keep on top of the easier short-term tasks, though I’m no closer to achieving my main aims. I haven’t written much (other than these blog posts). I haven’t revamped the Lux Bay website, as intended. I haven’t written as many song lyrics as I’d hoped. I haven’t pursued paid writing opportunities elsewhere, in order to build up a ‘side hustle’. I haven’t yet attempted to secure a wider audience for the YYCDI blog posts. I haven’t read anywhere near as many books as I’d have liked to, especially whilst not commuting at the moment (a really poor excuse, I know). So much remains on that damned list…
But what I have done is continue to procrastinate far too much; to spend far much time scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; to pick up a guitar and aimlessly strum for an hour rather than aim to achieve something tangible, such as learning a new song or perfecting the tone of my amp; to get sucked into nonsensical (though admittedly amusing) WhatsApp discussions (which have gone nuts since Covid-19 altered our day-to-day lives); to spend 30 minutes watching some random show on the TV (such as Man vs Food, or A Place in the Sun) rather than clear something I’ve recorded; to snooze rather than plough through the list.
This simply can’t continue so, for the good of my mental health and self-esteem, I must start getting excited rather than dispirited. As I’ve said in previous Covid-19 posts, there are positives to take from most situations. The key is to consider if a different way of thinking is required in order to do so. I often think about how children view things. That child-like innocence, which life tends to chip away at over time, is a beautiful thing. At that age, particularly those pre-senior school years, life is one big adventure. Life in interesting and wondrous. Life is fantastic as there is much to experience, question and enjoy. Just about everything is exciting. Why should we lose that wonderful view of life, just because we become adults? I really do think it’s time to ditch some of the cynicism and world-weariness and start getting excited again.
So, on that note, I’m off to attack the list and see what I can excited about completing today. Thanks for reading and, as always, please do whatever you need to do to get you through this current situation (as long as that’s within the confines of the law, of course…) Take care and stay safe.
From one constant list maker to another; more power to your elbow, Mick!
List-makers of the world unite! Thanks, Andrew – didn’t think I’d be the only one!