The Never-Ending To-Do List

I have always been a list maker. I make lists of books to read and books I have read. I make lists of recipes to try. I make Christmas card lists and shopping lists and fantasy vacation lists and lists of things to write about. But, I never feel like I make any progress. I make a list of ten things to do and finish five. I make a list of great ideas for stories or poems, but never come back to them. And then, I have a great reason to beat myself up about never accomplishing what I set out to do.

If you asked me, in my heart of hearts, for my defining characteristic, I would always reply lazy. I could always do more. I could write more. I could help more. I could call my mother more (oh, the guilt). I could get myself organized and sit down once a week to write dozens of blog posts and tweets in advance so that during the week I can focus on my paying job where I could do more. And then when that miracle happens, I could spend hours each night cleaning my house until it sparkles and is always ready for company. Then I’d cook meals for the week and freeze them so I could serve vegetables and photo ready food every night. I’d lay out my clothes for the week and my outfits would match and never be wrinkled. I’d always have greeting cards and wrapped gifts for every occasion neatly stacked where I could find them. My spare bedroom would not contain multiple bins of papers marked “to be sorted”.

This is how all of you live, right?

Because when I get down to it, my secret fear is that everyone else has the secrets to adult living all locked up. They are perpetually together and caught up on their lists and don’t have anything they’ve let linger for months (years?) waiting to be completed. And that makes me wonder, even now that I’m past thirty, whether I will ever be an adult, the way the adults seemed to be when I was a kid.

So, I try to imagine myself from a child’s perspective. Height-wise, at 5’0″, I’m not passing for grown-up. My work and weekend clothes aren’t kid’s clothes, but the Converse sneakers that go with both might confuse a kid. I live alone- pretty impressive. I can stay out as late as I want and watch as much TV as I want (though I don’t have many channels). There is no food that resembles real food in my fridge now (at which point the imaginary child asks if my mom forgot to buy me some snacks). My clothes are in piles on the couch, in the spare bedroom, and near the hamper (mom is going to be so mad).

I’m not quite there. And maybe I never will be. Are you?

 

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6 Comments

Filed under Building a Better Me, Daily Life, Lists

6 responses to “The Never-Ending To-Do List

  1. Nearly every single aspect of this post is a cosign for me.

    Listen carefully and you can hear Michael Jackson singing:

    “You are not alone. I am here with you.”

  2. Well perhaps some multi tasking skills are in order. The clothes there is no excuse for. You can do those while watching tv. You can also do once a week cooking where you prepare multiple dishes and separate them into meals and get it all done for the week in just a couple of hours. You can even eat on paper plates so there are no dishes.

    The best advice that I ever got was to make a to do list in order of priority and get the most important things done first, knowing that you will never get everything done on your to do list.

  3. Sounds like you’re a human being in the year 2011 with far too many things to do and far too high of expectations of yourself and far too much pressure from everyone else to have those high expectations! I do the exact same things as you and have the exact same worry that I’m never doing enough. However, you can’t compare your 2011 lifestyle to that of the adults when you were growing up- there just wasn’t as much to contend with then. Twitter, Facebook, hell, even the internet wasn’t around then. We’re faced with dealing with not only the regular “adult” things to do, but we have a million more obstacles and distractions in our way than they did! I think you’re doing quite well! If you’re happy, then you’re fine. 🙂

  4. Hey, me too! I was just saying yesterday that I was ready to be a kid again because this responsibility crap was for the birds. I don’t know if this will help, but I learned early on to use separate hampers for dark and light clothes (presorting!), and I recently (at age 35) have determined that there is no reason to be in such a hurry that I can’t take the 2 minutes it takes to put something where it belongs. Of course, I don’t have room for everything I own, so there’s still crap everywhere, but whatever. As for pre-cooking — what kind of crazy maniacs actually do that?? I’m just happy if I can plan meals and get grocery shopping done so I have the ingredients. Yeesh.

  5. I’m tallish, but dress like I’m wearing a school uniform all the time. Khakis and v-neck sweaters. Jeans on the weekends.

    I can’t get it together to cook a decent meal most days. Laundry? Ha! Grocery shopping? Right.

    I need to be more grown up, I guess. I don’t know.
    At least we’re in this together.

    Kiddo.

  6. Lora

    I totally resonate with this post. Whenever I feel the need to free myself up from my own ideas about what a grownup Lora looks like, I watch Amanda Palmer’s In My Mind video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9WZtxRWieM

    Hope you enjoy it too 🙂

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