To Dos, To Don’ts

Slice Daily for the Entire Month of March

March Slice of Life Challenge

To Dos: Your World

I’m jealous of you people who love your lists, who live your lists, who make your lists, who keep up with your lists, and who check each item you get done with a complete sense of satisfaction.

You people make your lists of symmetrical plans, bulleted masterpieces, things you will do. You have systems for checking off completed items. You boast satisfaction of completion and of partial completion. Even on a day you don’t look at your list, at the end of the day you know what you’ve written and what you’ve done. You’ve internalized your tasks. Sometimes you don’t do everything because your priorities change, but you are masters of lists, masters of tasks, and you just get things done. You have special pads or post-its, or apps for housing your lists. You have systems for keeping your priorities on paper. Your mind works linearly; this is easy for you. Think, write, do, check–that’s so easy. Nuts and bolts. Plan and execute. Get ‘er done.

You have a special place for your list, and you know where it is should you need to add an item or check off an item. You have a system in place, a workable, manageable system. This is a no brainer for you. You manage this system with consistency and fidelity. You know what needs to be done, and you plan on when you will do it. The thought that this system could be difficult to execute doesn’t even make sense to your mind. Duties and responsibilities are easily integrated into this bulleted list of yours. Order is like this for you. Too many items on a list just mean reexamining priorities and figuring out what your next steps are.This makes perfectly good sense to you. This is how things get done. You cannot fathom work without the list. You probably cannot even fathom how a person without a list keeps his/her job.

To Don’ts: My World

I make my To Do list. I promptly lose my list. I try a system on the phone, the iPad, the paper, the post it, the notebook, the notepad. Brightly colored paper is lost amid a pile of stuff. The app is forlorn, never opened. The list is never completed until months later when I open the app and try the system again. One system is traded out for another system. One app is overshadowed by another. One system fades, and another takes its place. Full on implementation never comes to fruition. No routine is ever established. No system is sustained.

PRIORITIZE. Sigh. What a lie. 

OLW for 2015, priotize. Aargh! What a lie!  There are these things to do. What must I do? What do I put off?

The linear brain, the nuts and bolts brain organizes the thoughts, the priorities, the to dos, and all is clear. My brain doesn’t seem to work in a straight line, and at times this is good. I can generate a plethora of ideas. I can find potential answers to problems. But when it comes to managing tasks and time, I am still not there. My brain jumps from one task to another. Hearing the words of the Franciscan Friar over 10 years later, “Maya, when you’re everywhere, you’re nowhere.” I know that mediocrity is the result of not focusing. I know that I’ve got to initiate, repeat, and follow through for change to happen. I know that “prioritizing” has got to be moved from out there on the horizon to right here in front of me. I know that it’s time for the next step.

What I need is a system. A workable Maya system. I’m sure there’s an app for that. Evernote, Remember the Milk, Tasks, something. Still, though, I need to look at the list in order to prioritize, begin, and complete the tasks. I need to keep up with the list. I need to remember the list.  I need to add to the list.  I need to complete tasks on the list. Mostly, though, I need a system that encourages productivity, a system that keeps me from spinning my wheels, a system that helps me prioritize, a system for trying to tweak yet another imperfection.

Letting Go of my Typical M.O. and Turning To Don’ts into To Dos

So part of prioritizing means letting go of that which stands in the way of progress and moving forward to try new ways that will work more effectively. I was telling a coworker who is engaged about what I realized back in the day when I was engaged. I realized that when I had too much on my wedding planning list (I actually had a list!)  I totally and completely shut down. Ahem…yup, that’s still a mental block for me. Anyway, at that time, my then fiancé/my now husband saw me freaking out, debilitated, shut down, so he offered to remove some stuff from my list. As soon as I removed a few items/delegated a few tasks, I was able to get back on track. The problem is, though, without the list I’m derailed; I don’t even know what my track is. How can I stay on the track that doesn’t exist.

Whether or not I have a list, the more I have to do and the more that builds up, the more overwhelmed I become and the less likely I am to “fix” my problems, to complete my  unfavorable tasks, to get things done. That is when I find myself distracted by the things I like to do to focus on. That’s when I spend long periods of time trying to come up with good ideas for instruction or trying to find interesting texts, or trying to rearrange something in my classroom, or wasting time in this or that conversation. Usually, what I’m doing is good for something (engagement, rapport, etc.), it’s just not what’s most important. Plus, as my wheels are spinning, my undone tasks are building.

The time is right for me to figure out how I’m going to turn my To Don’ts into To Dos in this workable Maya system. I just need to figure out what that might be for me.


4 thoughts on “To Dos, To Don’ts

  1. I loved this. I can relate. I’m the worst at keeping up with lists and feel overwhelmed by them. It’s always good to know there are others out there who feel the same.


  2. It’s funny, I’m a big list-maker, but I don’t think of myself as an organized person–my memory is so terrible that if I didn’t write everything, I would never get anything done. My calendar is color-coded and I have post-it lists everywhere, but somehow I still feel like I’m just barely getting it all done! I am sure there is a workable “Maya system” out there for you that will help you prioritize what’s most important to you.


  3. bethkrause

    I am a big list maker, but I am not an “organized” person. I live in organized chaos, but I do reach a point of overwhelm, either by the chaos, or the sheer amount of stuff on my list. Then I go through a time (could be 30 minutes, a day, a week) where I freak out (sorry everyone), complain, think aloud in irrational circles, worry, research, make more chaos, write more lists, loose my lists, and generally fall apart. It’s almost as if I need to freak out to clear my head. Then, I organize the chaos, make a reasonable list, and journey on. It’s a horrible “system”. Good luck!!


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