Saturday, September 17, 2011

What's not to do?

Sometime midweek tasks were landing on my desk (and in my inbox and tossed onto the kitchen counter and...) at such a rate that I couldn't even manage to jot them on my to-do list. I felt like Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer's Apprentice scene from Fantasia, the pails — uh, tasks — multiplying with abandon.

I scribbled reminders on post-its, ran through mental lists of emails I had to answer as I dashed up the stairs from meetings to teach class and reminded people to remind me later (just in case). Half-forgotten tasks lurk around mental corners and jump out at me at the least provocation. (Write check for choral uniforms ambushed me even as I sat here on the sofa nominally relaxing.) I keep looking over my mental shoulder — sure there's something major I've forgotten to do stalking me. (So far so good, but now that I mention it, am I supposed to cantor this weekend?)

As I was flipping through a magazine (which promised a month of stress-free dinners, if only people in my house would eat pork loin with sauteed cauliflower and capers), one piece of advice caught my eye: write an "ignore list."

I wonder if what I need more than a to-do list is a not-to-do list. What can I let go of before I even pick it up? or spend mental space and energy on coralling?


  1. Love the Mickey Mouse...though not that you feel like him.

    I spent some of my recovered time from the ultra-brief Cursillo reflecting on similar stuff, starting to reread Getting Things Done (being once more convinced of the genius of his method, and once more wondering if I could actually invest the start up time to get it going). I also ended up culling my email inbox down from a thousand to five hundred (while on a phone call for part of it)...Which included starting a pile of twenty or so that need replies or fact checking. And your "ignore list" inspired me to ditch two already...So thanks! And prayers, of course.

    On another topic, any chance you will be traveling to the Midwest for the joyous event at the end of October? I and trying to figure out if I can swing it, and it would be awesome to see you and maybe even share a hotel room....

  2. Oh goodness, this was my life. Now not so much. I pray for you that some form of internal/external rest will approach!

  3. Interesting idea! I think I need one of those myself.

    I hope things settle down for you!

  4. peace and hope. I often ask people to remind me, but now I am wondering... if they are as busy as I am, it may not be the best strategy. Margaret helped out this weekend by giving me some longer breaks from the booth to do some teaching prep work.

  5. A not-to-do list...I think I could get behind that idea. I'm reading this post just after one on another blog talking about focusing on one thing at a time/the myth of multitasking. I think somebody is trying to tell me something today.