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Monday, September 17, 2018

Those To-dos by Debra H. Goldstein

Those To-dos by Debra H. Goldstein
My to-do list is getting shorter. Or maybe, that’s longer. I know, since I finished my forty days of reading for fun, my life changed. I’m not sure if it is for the better.

For forty days, I read a book a day (okay, occasionally the book I picked necessitated two days to finish). After the first week, I found myself enjoying myself. The critical reading eye I’ve developed since becoming a writer receded and I read with joy and abandonment. It was fun, mindless, and invigorating.

Alas, like John Greenleaf Whittier wrote in The Barefoot Boy, “[a]ll too soon these feet must hide/ in the prison cells of pride.” Deadlines, promises, and responsibilities crashed forcing me back to reality – a world of to-do lists.

At first, it seemed like for every two things I crossed off, a new one popped onto my list. I could have freaked out, but I didn’t. Besides enjoying my reading, I learned a major lesson while I was recharging. Unless something was urgent, I let it slide. And, you know what? The world kept turning on its axis.

That means, with a little thought and some delegation, I can shrug, and nothing happens. I don’t
have to force round pegs into square holes. I don’t have to write a short story for every prompt I see nor solve every problem in the volunteer world alone. My job is to prioritize. Then, things naturally fall into place.

That’s a big thing to accept as a writer and a Type A personality, but since I’ve consistently prioritized my to-dos, my writing has improved and important things are getting done in a methodical way. The main reason for the improvement is that I don’t feel pressured.

Everything of substance will eventually get done. It better, because in the space of two weeks my TBR pile has grown beyond what it was before I began my reading binge. I’m going to need another month off to read. It isn’t at the top of my list right now, but that’s okay. I’m eager to attack my to-do list. Writing this blog makes the twelfth item I’ve marked off my list in the past three days. I see daylight and I’m feeling good about it.

How do you recharge? How do you handle it when all the deadlines and responsibilities of life seem to crowd in on each other? What gives – a task or you?


Paula Gail Benson said...

What a great idea, Debra. So glad it gave you a chance to recharge.

Jim Jackson said...

I can often de-stress by making my daily to do list achievable. I get in mental trouble when I put too much on each day’s list and start to feel as though I am failing. I also get in trouble when I do not write out a to do list because my brain taps into a much larger set of possible tasks.

It's crazy, but it's my crazy.

KM Rockwood said...

Sometimes something intervenes to let us know whether our priorities are valid or not. It could be a health crisis or a joyful event, like a new baby. Suddenly all those minor things that seemed so important take their rightful place way down the list. As you say, the world keeps turning and we get new insight into what is really important.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I make a weekly to do list, which means by Friday I'm either complacent or cursing as I glue my backside to a chair for hours.

I take the month of December off to deep clean the house and do minimal holiday decorations before the kids arrive for Christmas.

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Glad to know I"m not the only one who needs a list, prioritizes, and must find time to recharge.

Warren Bull said...

For me, singing is the way to get out of my writer's head and into a state of enjoyment.

Kait said...

I love lists. I try my best to keep them rotating, but sometimes, and I don't often admit this, I'll top them with something almost finished so I can start the day with a sense of accomplishment! There, I've said it.

Like you, I've just come off a month of reading. Always makes me feel recharged, but I know I've had enough when I've got one eye on the book and one on my laptop. You too?

Grace Topping said...

I make lists--lots of them. Unfortunately, I've come across lists that are a number of years old and some of the things on the list are still waiting for me to get to them. One thing I find that helps get me motivated to start working again on my writing is to clean my desk. Even if it means taking stacks of papers and dumping them into a laundry basket so I can deal with them later. There is something about a clear desk that helps me start a project with a clear mind.

Gloria Alden said...

Debra, I've always kept to do lists. I remember one of my sisters looking at my list and telling me it makes her tired just to read it. However now that I'm retired and live alone except for my dog, a cat and some birds, I don't worry as much about the things I have listed that involves cleaning the house. Of course, I still have my outside critters, 2 ponies, 3 hens and a rooster and a barn cat in addition to my son's and my peafowl that I need to walk over to feed each morning. I don't get a lot of company unless it's time for me to host one of my two book clubs, then I go on a cleaning spree. I'm pretty good about making my bed each day and washing the dishes, too. I read the newspapers with my meals. Still I try to keep things a little bit neat, at least, and I sweep the living room at least one day a week.

As for reading I read my current book every evening while listening to music from one of the CD's I put in. When I head for bed, I have a bedside book I'm reading, too. Sometimes I read in the afternoons, too. I write in my journal every evening before starting to read. I read 97 books last year, and I'm somewhere in the upper 60s of books read this year so far.