I am a lover of lists. At the end of each year, I make a list of the things that I would like to accomplish the following year and then break them down into which month I will do that task. At the end of each month, I make a to-do list for the following month. This list includes everything from my year list, everything that didn’t get done from the previous month’s list and everything on my calendar. Then I break these tasks into weeks, then days. At the end of each week, I refine my to-do list for the following week. Finally, at the beginning of each day I gauge my energy and concentration level, see whether anything has been added to my calendar that day and adjust my to-dos as needed.
This is how I operate. How I’ve operated for years, and I really don’t understand how people can function and get things done without lists. For everybody who has ever asked me how I get so much done, or how I remember things, this is how. It’s all written down. And over the years, I have learned the gracious acceptance and forgiveness that has to happen when you hit the end of the day and you’re not done with your list. Because let’s be honest, 99% of the time the list isn’t done because there were too many things on the list to start with! It’s not a personal failing, it’s a failure of proper minions. If I had minions, those damn lists would be done every day by dinner. Well, except for the dinner dishes. Those have to happen after dinner, for obvious reasons.
Despite the fact that I have found a Zen place in regards to unfinished to-do lists, I have found that lately my lists are being pared down to the bare minimum. If something doesn’t absolutely HAVE to happen on that particular day, it gets bumped to another day. There are no options of things that can be done that day, or contingencies like, do X, Y, and Z should your appointment be shorter than anticipated. None of that. Lately, my lists have been sparse, down to the point that three day’s worth can fit onto one typed page. For comparison’s sake, it’s not odd for a single day to take up an entire page.
Why the change? Lately, I have had an extreme case of the, “I don’t wanna’s.” Not in the sullen teenager sense of, “I don’t wanna do the dishes,” but in the clinical depression sense of, “I don’t wanna do anything. Not move, not eat, not socialize, not anything.” Okay, sleep. I totally want to sleep, but that’s it. I probably would spend all weekend in bed if it weren’t for my dogs who are rather insistent on peeing and eating on a regular basis. I probably would have been fired from my job by this point, if it weren’t for the Prozac. The thought of having to get up and go to work in the morning makes me want to cry, but with the Prozac I’m able to do it. I get out of bed, put on clothes, feed/walk my dogs and get in my car.*
Now logically, I know that all of this is in my head. I have nothing to be sad about, my life is actually going quite well at the moment. But that doesn’t matter, so instead of fighting against where I am right now, I’m trying really hard to work with what I’ve got. I know that if I had one of my typical to-do lists right now, I would shrink away and choose to do nothing at all. Then at the end of the day feel crappy because I didn’t get anything accomplished. So instead, my to-do lists include simple everyday things like shower and walk the dogs and then 2-3 action items to get done toward completing my goals. It’s much easier – even when exhausted with zero motivation – to look at a list of two things and say, “Yeah, okay. I guess I can do that,” then it is to say that while looking at a list of ten things.
My lists are paltry, and my progress has been painfully slow, but at least there’s been progress. If you’re wondering, yes, writing this blog post is on my list. And yes, it’s been like pulling teeth to get it done. Apologies if it reads like that as well, but you gotta do what you gotta do! What do you do to keep your progress moving forward, when all you want to do is stay in bed? I’m genuinely curious. Not that I’ll probably try anything new right now, but I will later when my gut response for everything is no longer, “I don’t wanna.”
*For those who are confused, yes it is totally possible to be on Prozac and still be depressed. If I were to up my dose to a level that would eliminate all depression, I would be a zombie. Not worth it.