Is there anything more annoyingly demanding than a to-do list? Well, except maybe a 2-year-old on a rant?
It's a weird, self-imposed practice. A perfectly wonderful Saturday stretches before us, so the first thing we do when our feet hit the ground is grab a scrap of paper and jot down all the things we need to do that day. Unless, of course, we're one of the particularly hopeless folks who create their to-do list the night before.
We do it for a couple of reasons. First, because our memory won't hold all those to-dos. We commit them to paper to keep them from colliding in our brain cells, surfacing to shout another screaming reminder of their importance in the large scheme of our lives before disappearing into the mass as another rises to our consciousness to do the same.
Second, we make efficient order of our day as we stare down through the list, pairing up trips to town, assigning outdoor jobs to the cooler morning hours, shuffling off to other family members the tasks that can be shared. We mentally match our list with the hours of the day and try to figure out how we're going to get it all done.
And finally, we make the list so we can enjoy that minuscule moment of satisfaction when we cross off a task.
It's kind of pathetic. A really champion way to ruin a perfect good Saturday. Whatever happened to waking up, pulling on a pair of shorts and a shirt and running barefoot outside to greet the day?
Oh, yeah. Adulthood.
Well, there is a way to push back, at least a little. It's called a to-don't list. To-don't lists are at least as important as to-do lists. They remind us of things like:
* Don't turn the radio on in the car today. If you're alone, enjoy the silence while you do some deep thinking. If you're with one of the kids, talk. Either way, what you'll learn will be lots more insightful and valuable than anything you'll hear on the radio.
* Don't think for one minute that there's anything on your to-do list more important than remembering to take the kids to help walk the dogs at the animal shelter like you promised you would.
* Don't hyperventilate if the kids gang up on you to bring a dog home.
* Don't freak out if you can't get all the weeding done today. The weeds will cheerfully hang around until you get back to them. They'll even make it easier for you to find them.
* Don't forget to spend a couple of minutes -- maybe even an hour -- on yourself at some point during the day. You can't keep getting water from an empty well.
* Don't forget to be kind to cashiers. No matter how challenging your day is, hers will be worse.
* Don't try to get everything done in one day. Seriously, look at that to-do list. Is all of that really necessary? I mean, all in one day?
* Don't react negatively to someone else's rude behavior. You own your feelings -- that other person doesn't.
* Don't let your to-do list be in charge of you all the way until bedtime. Cut it off at some reasonable point in the evening and spend the last bit of the day balancing yourself with those you love. Get ready for the next day.
* Don't let the things on the to-do list be more important than the people you're doing them for.
So give it a try. For best results, scribble your to-don't list right next to your to-do list.
Or maybe instead of.