Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The “To Do” List

We all make “To Do” lists, right? Ok. Well, 90% of us make them and the rest of you are just weird. I make To Do lists all the time. Most of them just in my head. But I hardly go a day without making a list at some point. They come in levels; Things I must do today. Things I ought to do today. Things I cannot forget to buy at the store. Things I would like to get done this week. Things I want to do with my life...

At least once a week it inevitably spirals out into this rambling train of thought about my goals in life or what I’d like to accomplish in the next ten years or even just particularly ambitious visions about the number of things I can accomplish in a week (see above) . On particularly dull car rides, I find myself making a list of the things I will do for loved ones should I ever win the lottery (a wildly impractical list considering that I do not actually play the lottery.)

I get some joy from these lists. I feel centered when I go through and remind myself just what my goals are - whether those goals are to buy a carton of milk or to see the Galapagos Islands before I die (My Before I Die list is very very very long. What about yours?)

I think the trick is not having an excessive attachment to the whole “crossing off” process. Generally I find the reminder of more use to me than the actual plodding one-after-another accomplishments. I mean, it’s a good feeling to be able to cross things off a list and certainly supplies a feeling of accomplishment... when I KNOW I will be crossing things off I sometimes break each task into smaller components to increase the number of things I can cross off. It’s great fun. But I also just like knowing something is on the list. On the list - to me - means that I will, eventually have done that. And that can be tremendously reassuring.

The big abstract life lists are the best. I go back through old notebooks and discover lists made ten years ago. I love the thrill of finding something I have since accomplished. Lists are on my mind because this is shaping up to be a big list year for me. I’m doing some serious traveling. I’m in a play. I’m at this very moment searching for a new place to live so I can have a studio space for my art. At the end of the year I look forward to going back through old notebooks to see how many things I can cross off. Maybe I should break the list down into many little components so I can enjoy a magnified sense of accomplishment later on (1. Get passport. 2. Pack suitcase. 3. Go on very long plane ride. 4. Spend time in Scotland. 5. Flirt with Scottish men....)


  1. OMG You just made me feel so good about myself.... I do this too. I do the "break it down into little pieces" thing and i also do that "what would i do for xxx if i won the lottery". The lottery one i thought i was strange for...

  2. Isn't that the geratest thing? The whole feeling of "I'm not the only one who does this." Love that.

    Totally not strange forthe lottry thing. I think it's essentially the fact that our lives are contrained by what resources are available to us - NATURALLY we think about what we would do if those constraints didn't exist - if we had as much money as we could ever possibly need or want.