When I Get To-Do List Fatigue

I consider myself a studier, lover, and delighter (that’s probably not a word) of organization and productivity. It gives me a small feeling of control in a chaotic world and soothes my anxious brain.

To do lists are a big part of that. I’ve worked with a to-do list of some sort for about 20 years. That’s a lot of list-making and crossing things out (my favorite part). I don’t have to remember what I’m supposed to do beyond the few minutes it takes to make a list. It helps that I have a master to-do list that takes even that burden of memory off my shoulders. I can see at a glance how much or little work I have left.

Mostly, I love it.

Until I don’t. Until that moment when making a list, knowing I have the (self-imposed) obligation of crossing things off, feels more overwhelming than the work I want to do.

Sometimes I fight these feelings, making a to-do list from a sense of obligation and then actively avoiding it for hours, only grudgingly getting work done so I don’t feel shamed by a small piece of paper.

And sometimes I skip the damn to-do list and rely on my long-held habits and not-that-bad memory. It’s freeing, in a weird way. Almost like I’m trusting myself a little bit.

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