A Deceptive Addendum

Not long ago, in the waybackwhen, I posted about some of the ways I try to get myself sorted, especially when I’m shifting gears into a new season of stuff. I thought it would be worthwhile to add, however, a brief description of a habit inside the habit, one that tends to give my mental health a gentle upward nudge.

I’ve invariably got an array of to-do lists up and running, but of course some things fall through the cracks. Itemizing life in advance is a mug’s game, however nice that might be. At the end of any given week, however, it sometimes feels like I’ve seriously underachieved. While there’s a semi-healthy part of me that understand that life ought not be measured in feats and written proofs of my existential effectiveness, there’s a less noble component of my programming that likes to see a few items ticked off the ol’ checklist at week’s end.

And so I add them.

As a rule, if it’s something that requires a little foresight and an investment of time, even if I forgot to mention it while planning out my prospects, I’ll put it on the list of the week and cross it off retroactively. It makes for a decent reminder that I haven’t been as indolent as the checklist otherwise might suggest. Today, for example, I remembered in passing that I probably ought to wash my hoodies and long-sleeved shirts now that temperatures have dropped. It wasn’t something I originally planned to do, but it’s something that will make life easier for Future Me. By the same token, one of my tasks for early October involves identifying some clusters of readings for my composition classes. Yesterday I had a bit of spare time while my students huddled up for a peer review workshop, so I hunted some down there and then. When I got home I added both items to my list of Weekly Things and crossed them off.

On Sunday I’ll make a new list, but instead of looking back and imagining I managed just the bare minimum (lesson plans, paying the bills, etc.), I’ll actually have a more accurate reckoning of what I’ve done. It makes me a feel a bit better; if nothing else, it convinces me that I didn’t squander the week gone by. And, to a meaningful degree, it also raises the bar. Instead of having 8-12 accomplishments in my back pocket, I’ll come away with twenty or so, which persuades me that maybe I can be a little more active and ambitious when mapping out the weeks and months ahead.

I might not ever be a Man of Action, but it pays to be honest with myself about my daily activity–even if that involves adding something done to a to-do list after the fact.

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