The list

This doesn't work so well since it snowed...
This doesn’t work so well since it snowed…

I have Friday Brain tonight. I’m in that head space where my thoughts are a messy jumble of all the things I didn’t get done this week and all the things I want/need to achieve this weekend. I am tired past the point of productivity, but because there is so much to do I keep thinking I should be doing it.  But I don’t do it.

When I was young my parents used the expression “too tired to go to bed” to describe that point in the day when you really ought to just pack it in for the evening, but simply can’t muster the effort it would require to hoist yourself up off the couch and down the hall to your bedroom.

I know what I need to do when I get this way. I need to make a list. I need to usher the swirling flock of thoughts out of my mind and corral them on a note pad by my bed where they will patiently await my attention at a time when I am more fit to focus.

I have been a list maker for a long time. Lists are my defence against chaos. I have a work to-do-list and a home to-do-list. When I get especially busy the two are apt to cross over and merge. That’s partly why my brain is so addled tonight– the work list is spilling over into the weekend– but I already HAD a weekend list. I’m not sure where the overflow valve for THAT is going to come from.

But here’s the thing. It all gets done. Except the things that don’t, but I have learned over the years that the things that don’t get done likely weren’t that important in the first place. There are lots of reasons to cross things off a list. Sure, you can cross off the things you’ve done. Heck, when I start a new list I often include at least one item I’ve already finished, just so I can have the pleasure of crossing something off right away! I’m a big believer in giving myself rewards for good behaviour.

It has taken me a lot longer to learn that you can also cross something off a list when you haven’t done it– because you have decided you don’t need to do it after all.  Maybe someone else needs to do it. Or maybe it simply doesn’t need doing, period.

It has also taken me a long time, too long really, to prioritize the list around the things that matter most to me. To be mindful not to let all the “shoulds” crowd out the “wants” and “needs.” I have been trying for years to adjust my priorities so that writing was not just something I squeezed in when everything else was finished. Because “everything else” is never finished. There will always be laundry and dishes and one more piece of work correspondence to catch up on. And I’ve found it’s much easier to “squeeze in” a load of laundry than some focused creative time.

For now, I’m going to crawl into bed and make the list that will clear my busy head so I can rest. The list will start with this item:


First things first.


2 thoughts on “The list

  1. Excellent post! I read it, and it was one of those moments where I went, “Hey!!!!! That person just said what I am feeling inside but couldn’t put into words!”. A very good reminder.

  2. Pingback: Momentum | Muddy River Muse

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