Item 327 -- Get rid of to-do list

Exhausted! By Terry Freedman

Exhausted! By Terry Freedman

I've always been a great one for writing to to-lists, mainly because of the surge of satisfaction I get from deleting items. But even I started to have doubts when the list soared beyond the 100 mark. By the time it reached 200, despite all the crossings-out (I rarely erase them, just cross them through and un-number them: yes, I do use the computer for this task) I had fallen into a slough of despondency. Now that the list has 326 items I have once again begun to question its usefulness.

As for to-do list apps, in a way they just make it easier and more efficient to maintain an inherently inefficient strategy.

At least, though, I plan my activities so that they are not all urgent. The problem I find these days is that there seems to be a mismatch between myself and event organisers in this respect. For example, I am sometimes invited to conferences with 1 week’s notice: my diary contains bookings for almost the whole of next year.

I once had a notice on the door of my office in the school where I worked as a technology co-ordinator. It read "Your lack of planning is not my emergency". Great words, and ones which clearly resonated with whomever it was who removed the notice from my door on the same day that I put it there.

Getting back to the to-do list, I think of mine as a very personal matter, a bit like a diary. In fact, I have kept all my appointments diaries ever since I started teaching, a few decades ago. I can look at the diary entries and they describe my life at the time more eloquently than the usual sort of diary entry ever could.

But only for me. They will mean nothing much to anyone else after I've died.

What will mean something, of course, is the to-do list with its 300-odd unachieved-as-yet items. I'd rather be remembered for what I have achieved than what I haven't.

So, the to-do list must go, a matter I'll attend to as soon as I've completed the next 326 tasks....