March 02, 2010


I'm getting ready to do something really out of character.

I'm shredding my "To Do List" notebook (yes, it encompasses an entire notebook), and I'm deleting all of my 200+ emails from my inbox (including the 80 that I haven't read yet).

Why am I doing something so crazy?

Well, because I'm losing it. I am being overcome by the "to do list" blues, micromanaging my life to the 'nth degree, and succumbing to a life of task after task after task.

If you've known me for, oh, I don't know...about 10 know that I'm extremely organized. I probably make people uncomfortable with just how organized I can be. Looking for a spice at my house? Well, just resort to the list posted inside the can find your cinnamon on shelf 2, and your tarragon on shelf 1 (in the back - because they are alphabetized - but you knew that, right?). Wondering where to throw your dirty towels? Why, in the laundry basket LABELED "Towels", silly! Six different baskets all labeled to p-e-r-f-e-c-t-i-o-n! Whites, darks, delicates, sheets, towels, and even workout clothes don't have to fraternize with each other - except on those often occasions that Troy forgets that white basic tees are not washed the same as white workout tees, and hence don't belong in the same basket together. And if you're ever at my house and need a book to read, you can find workout, nutrition, and activity-related books (kayaking, hiking, cycling, etc) on the shelves in the gym....fiction in the tv cabinet in my office...and all nonfiction on the shelf in the living room. Bibles and other religious related readings are on the 2nd shelf in the living room.

This sort of perfection in all things organized does not come easy. It requires an entire notebook dedicated to not forgetting to do a single thing. Everything that needs to be done gets put on the list. Big things like "pay electric bill" small things like "get red ink for estimate stamp." Really. If it needs to get done, it gets put on the list. Whether its personal, like "get eyebrows waxed" or business related, like "follow up on so-and-so's late payment" or volunteer related, like "order more singlets." Nothing is too insignificant to make the list.

And therein lies the problem.

The list is consuming me. Not only do I write everything down, but I also really in my heart of hearts believe that I'm going to get it all day...this week. Every week is the same...more stuff added...a few things completed...and constant defeat that I didn't get it all done. I go to bed thinking about the list....I wake up thinking about the list...when I leave the house, I might forget my phone, but I NEVER forget the list.

I got an email from RC yesterday and it said this: "Life if short. The whole reason you left the base [my old job with the Air Force] was supposed to be to enjoy a better quality of life. I think that should include some running :)"

I've thought about that email all day. What is the quality of life that I want? When I die do I want people to say "Wow, that Amy, she sure could get a lot done!" Or would I rather them say "Wow, hate to see her go, but man she led a great life!"

The path that I'm on right now...the one where I'm OCD (there, I said it) about the details...the one where fun doesn't exist because while I'm supposed to be doing something fun, I'm constantly thinking about all the other things I should be doing...the one where Troy just gets sick and tired of hearing me talk about how sick and tired I am...yeah, that path? Well, it sucks!

It reminded me that some of the BEST runs I've ever had, are the ones where I don't have anything else to do. I haven't had one THOSE kind of runs since I left the base. And yes, I know being the owners wife does make me a lot more responsible for many more things...but it doesn't have to always be about "what else can I get done?" Sometimes it can just be about making things happen within realistic means, with realistic time frames. Heck, Troy's been running this show for 11 years without me and he's the most unorganized person I've ever met (okay, not the "most" but pretty darn close). And guess what? His life? Totally stress free. He doesn't sweat the details or get bogged down with time management. He just does what's right, right now, and moves on. I bet all of his runs are BEST runs ever.

So, in an effort to get my life things that are FUN and enjoy them at the same time...and just stop worrying about the details, I'm getting rid of the list. Starting over. At square one. I'm going to try it for a details...if it needs to get done, I'll do it right then or not at all. Hopefully, the week will turn into two weeks and three weeks, and before I know it...well, it will be a lifetime of being "list-free."


TimC said...

Amy, just remember that a to-do list is good to have as long as you control the list and it does not control you.

Sometimes we need a reminder.

Katy T said...

You go girl! I completely get that the list can sometimes consume you and not the stuff on it. Good luck being "list-free"!!

Anne said...

Here's an idea in case you find you can't go cold turkey. I bought a dayplanner that has eight slots for each day and I write down up to eight things to accomplish - one of which is always a workout if it's planned. Weekends there are no lists unless I need to track a party or event I plan to attend. This gives you the sense of accomplishment you're seeking in doing these lists without making it overwhelming in size. You are truly take it one day at a time this way.

koedel said...

Wow! That is really radical, Amy. I love my lists because, when I write it down, then I don't have to keep circulating it in my head, so my lists free my brain. But I do a list just one week at a time. On Friday I make up a list for just the next week. Deciding what to have for dinner each night is the biggest help because I hate the deciding part more than anything so it gets it all done with at once (and then I make up my grocery list at the same time so I don't have to wander the aisles aimlessly wondering what we're going to eat this week). I include some long range projects to the side in case I have extra time and want to tackle something extra, but if it doesn't get done after a few weeks of being transferred from one week's list to the next, I drop it. Anyway, maybe a break will help you live more in the moment. I went to a conference a long time ago and listened to a mom who was homeschooling her ten children. She said it's like riding a roller coaster. You can either grip the handlebar tightly until your knuckles turn white, or you can throw up your arms and enjoy the ride!