Sunday, March 14, 2010

To Do Lists, Reading, and Deadlines... Oh My!

I tend to be a very tedious person. So much so that I get picked on by my friends for being more than just a little be OCD.(1) Like many people, I do maintain a 'to do list' (in fact, I subscribe to two different online to do list managers; 'Remember the Milk' and 'Todoist'). Have you ever wondered, or thought to yourself, if maybe, just maybe, there's to much crap on your to do list? I list all kinds of things on mine. In fact, the reason I have two online to do lists, is because one is used as an actually daily/weekly to do list and the other is used as a sort of project outline tool. Here's the thing. I actually set deadlines, or hard due dates and times, on just about everything. Don't get me wrong, there are some things that absolutely have to have those, like paying the bills or what have you. But, I set hard due dates on things like when whatever book I'm reading should be completed. I guess if it were a library book and had to be returned, that would be a good idea, but I buy my books.(2) Now, if I own the thing then I should be able to read it when I want and take as long as I want right? That's just not how my brain thinks or processes things. You see, as I mentioned, I buy my books and since I am a bit of a bibliophile, I tend to buy them even when I already have several on the “to be read pile.” What this leads to is a tendency to already be thinking about which book I want to read next before I've even finished the one I'm currently on. So, I end up setting due dates to finish a book so I can get caught up on the ever growing reading list, self-imposed as it may be. Now, I suppose it's perfectly okay to set a date that I'd like to be finished by since it sort of helps set a goal. But, what actually happens is, I see the due date looming and notice that I've not been reading x pages per day as planned and so now I'm behind. So, I move the due date; then it gets pushed back again and again... you get the idea. What I end up doing is taking something that should give me pleasure and joy (reading a good book) and turning it into just another chore with a due date silently harassing me and making me feel guilty for not completing it on time.

I'll admit, I should probably set aside time each day to read, not necessarily set a number of pages per day, but that's not really the point I'm making. What I'm saying is, with this fast paced, rat-raced, fast food mentality world we live in, why do we hem ourselves in so much with due dates and to do lists in the first place? We have enough tasks and chores and lists to deal with at work, so why bring that stress home? Sure, there are some household related things that will always need a list (like the shopping list for example – forget my coffee, and I'll have to hurt somebody *grin*), but setting due dates on leisure reading or hobbies? That may be a bit much.

Slow down, relax, take a breath – pour yourself a cup of coffee (or whatever your favorite beverage may be) and read that book (or whatever) as slow as you damn well please ;-)

~ JC

(1) I get told I'm OCD because of my tendency to be overly organized so much so that I actually keep track of how much cash I have on me using Quicken in addition to balancing my checkbook. Hell, I even reconcile my change jar from time to time. I also get picked on at work because I get so irritated if my tools are not only put back, but put back in a specific spot.
(2) The fact that I buy books rather than borrow them or check them out of the library could probably be a blog in and of itself – and most likely will be soon.
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