The never-ending mountain

I’m working on my to-do list. After two weeks in sweltering Africa, visiting villages, meeting new relatives, squeezing in the odd bit of “touristing” and being about as reachable as the planet Neptune, I’m using the airplane WiFi to review those pressing tasks I left on pause…and my head is starting to hurt already.

I’ve realised I have an unhealthy relationship with my to-do list. It’s not a matter of avoidance; I’m practically compulsive in reviewing, updating, ordering. Making sure I’ve noted down every “must do” I can remember gives me a reassuring feeling I have an overview of what’s urgent. However, while I love diligently working out what needs doing, I have a semi-conscious feeling that I’ve failed whenever the number of items on that list is more than zero. I.e. a hundred percent of the time.

I seem to think the aim in life is to do everything you could possibly undertake until all your ‘work’ is done. And then just sit and enjoy the feeling of having accomplished. The trouble being, of course, that chores are not a one-off occurrence. Some are cyclical. Some even generate further tasks, and you can well imagine how short-changed I feel when “Preparing for that meeting” is immediately replaced by “Complete action points from that meeting”.

Recently it occurred to me that I should move away from this mindset if I wish to go through life accompanied by sanity. We don’t get frustrated that a satisfying breakfast is replaced by hunger for another meal at lunchtime. So if I stop seeing my to-do list as a never-ending mountain I should scale, accepting it as a cycle of activities giving me something to work towards each day, perhaps I won’t be so frustrated that this list of things to accomplish always has things on it.

I’m curious to know if I’m the only one who’s in this boat. Or your tips for getting out of it!

Will let you know how it goes!



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