The Care And Keeping Of To-Do Lists

“A merry heart does good, like medicine. but a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

My daughter posted this last summer. I remember reading it and laughing out loud because it so reminded me of myself. When I was talking to my daughter this week about my woeful lack of time and inspiration for this blog, she most graciously told me: “Use something of mine, Mom.” I remembered this one and told her I was thinking of using it, to which she replied: “You need more humor. That would be a good one.” I have a wise daughter. She’s right. I need more humor as I have been way too serious of late. I hope this will make you smile. Just re-reading it brought laughter to my heart.

The Care and Keeping of To-Do Lists

Please note that I do rely on to-do lists almost daily. Sometimes, however, I can get a little frustrated with both my own procrastination and the feeling of a mounting pile of work. Here is my humorous take on what happens when my desire to relax and need to be productive clash!

To-do lists can be scary creatures. They have tremendous effects on our psyches. Without them, contentment and relaxation reign supreme. But with them, disastrous effects can occur. Observe a normal day at home without a to-do list:

Wednesday morning:

9:30 a.m.

Wake up leisurely. Thoughts of reading, movies, and general relaxation produce quiet satisfaction.

11:15 a.m.

Read book.

1 p.m.

Continue reading book.

3 p.m.

Still reading book.

5:30 p.m.

Watch movie.

8 p.m.


11 p.m.


12 a.m.


To-do lists are often introduced by well-meaning persons that believe they are the key to productivity. However, when not properly looked after, they can produce chaos and disillusionment. Observe:

Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.

Sheer optimism takes hold of unsuspecting to-do list creator. Creator bounces enthusiastically around house as grandiose plans to complete entire to-do list form in head. Work hopes for Thursday: 113%

8:35 p.m.

Remember cavity filling next afternoon. Work hopes: 87%

Thursday, 10:05 a.m.

Sleep in. Work hopes: 60%

2:15 p.m.

Work begun. Work hopes: 63%

4 p.m.

Take short break from work. Work hopes: 62%

5:15 p.m.

Still on break. Work hopes: 46%

6 p.m.

Chill. Watch movie. Work hopes: 37%

7:45 p.m.

Brief burst of work, accompanied by enthusiasm. All work will still be done!!!! Work hopes: 79%

8-9:30 p.m.

Procrastinate on Facebook. Work hopes: 25%

9:31 p.m.

Realize work, if completed, would last till midnight. Work hopes: 10%

9:33 p.m.

Guilty conscience throws temper tantrum. Attempt to soothe guilty conscience. Fail miserably. Give up on work. Work hopes: 0%

9:40 p.m.

High to-do list to time ratio creates panic.

9:41 p.m.

Begin to create elaborate, color-coded plan to accomplish to-do list.

9:43 p.m.

Cynicism sets in, followed by despair. IT IS HOPELESS!!!! NOTHING WILL EVER GET DONE!!!!

9:45 p.m.

Creation of Facebook note alleviates tension by introducing humor, but fails to create permanent solution.

9:47 p.m.

Completion of Facebook note reintroduces feelings of productivity. Rationalization sets in. I don’t really HAVE to stretch/research/clean today. And I’ll have plenty of time to clean/work/sort papers/write senior project proposal/research production/sort clothes tomorrow.

9:50 p.m.

Soothe guilty conscience by insisting to self that Friday will actually be productive, and thus bring a happy conscience.

9:51 p.m.

Determination sets in. I’ll finish this to-do list if it’s the last thing I do!!

9:54 p.m.

Friday’s work enthusiasm tempered by Thursday’s failures (and Monday’s, and Tuesday’s, and Wednesday’s), as well as by looming to-do list. Friday’s work hopes: 55%. Friday’s work enthusiasm: 5%.

Day without to-do list satisfaction rating: 95%

Day with to-do list satisfaction rating: 37%

Conclusion: All to-do lists require special care. Shredding may be enough for smaller ones. For larger ones, burning at the stake is recommended.

By “My Soul Found Rest”
Copyright © 2011
Used with permission