Checking It Off

to-do listAt any given time, I feel like I’ve got about a thousand and one things going on. Part of it has to do with my ability to multitask. Part of it has to do with the fact that I just get restless and I can’t sit still doing the same thing for too long. The same reason that I’m reading four or five books at a time is the same reason that I am involved in multiple projects at one time.

I’m getting better at juggling them all, realizing that there needs to be some kind of method in my madness. For years, I prided myself on the fact that I was creative and my lack of structure and order lent to that creativity. Then, I woke up one day and realized that I was lying to myself and the lack of structure and order were actually squelching my creativity. So, I’ve tried to embrace the idea of routine and structure a little bit more, realizing that I could toss the routine and structure out for the greater good, but having it in place was helpful for giving me direction.

Over the years I’ve become a “list” guy. I love lists. It’s not uncommon for me to sit down and make a list before I head out on my errands for the day. In fact, going back to my home church around Christmas this year, the pastor talked about making a list and writing 2 or 3 things down and not moving on to something else until you checked something off that list. My kind of sermon.

Lists are great and helpful, but there’s nothing like checking things off of the list. I realized just how much I rely on lists and how helpful they can be to me this past week.

I’ve had a number of tasks that have sat untouched on my list for a while. The reasons why they have remained untouched are probably too numerous and extensive to cover in this post, but let’s just say that they were intimidating reminders to me and I was going to do everything possible to either ignore them or put them off.

The problem is, every time that I walked by my little white board with the list on it, they were staring me in the face. It was almost as if those few tasks were a weight that I was carrying around my neck, the longer that I put them off, the heavier they got and the worse I felt about them.

I knew in my heart that if I just took the time to wrap my head around them and give them a little bit of time, I’d be able to check them off of my list, cross them off of the white board so that they would no longer be staring me in the face. Yet, I just couldn’t bring myself around to conquering them.

But there were deadlines approaching, and to me, those deadlines are usually helpful. The problem can become when the deadlines are so far out that it’s easy to procrastinate and procrastinate. But that white board kept getting bigger, at least it felt like that to me. It felt like the letters were growing larger every day, looming over me, waiting to pounce when I was least expecting it. I realized that I just needed to tackle these items.

So, the other day, I stood in front of that white board, black letters looming over me like the shadow of a giant troll, seeking to crush me underneath its weight. I went about tackling one of those tasks that’s been sitting on that list for months, and within a few minutes, it was done and I stood, once again, in front of that white board, but this time, I was able to wipe something off of it.

I was surprised at how it made me feel. It was as if a weight had come off of my shoulders. Wow, if I had known that it would feel like that I probably would have done it a long time ago.

So, my list is a little shorter, at least shorter with things that had been hanging over me for a long time. There might be a little bit more jump in my steps and I will continue to use my little white board to keep track of all of the tasks that stand before me, some of them enjoyable and some not so much. But that white board stands as a constant reminder to me of the things that I need to get done, it’s accountability in black and white and if I can just remember how it feels to wipe something off the board, I might get to some of these things, especially the not so fun ones, much sooner than I might have before.

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