When did our to-dos take over our lives? I’ll add that question to my list

Some days I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day or enough days in a week, to get everything done and make everyone happy. Lately, there isn’t even enough room on my note page to itemize all the to-dos on my list.

When did we get so busy?

Is it the plight of the working mom, trying to be everything to everyone? Or is it more systemic? With technology, we are available 24 hours a day now and Sundays are no longer sacred. So there is no down time, unless you count potentially restless hours of sleep.

It probably goes without saying that I have a work list and a home to-do list. On the home list I’m noticing a positive correlation between the amount of stuff I own and the length of the list of to-dos. This makes me add another idea to my list — “Have a big garage sale.”

Prioritization for both lists is a problem, but to focus on the home one, there are moments I think I had better put: “Have fun, play a board game with the kids, stop and smell the roses, exercise, and be kind to yourself,” on to the list or they may not happen

To-dos swirl in my head like a not-so-pleasant sugar-plum dance. If I don’t have a sheet of paper and a pen close at hand on the bedside table, I’ll keep myself up for hours repeating an item ad nauseam to commit it to memory for the following day. . . . Writing it down saves me that hassle.

Some people hate lists and feel that the mere possession of one is a constant nag blanket. “You haven’t done me yet” screams off the page.

Me, I use it as peace of mind, to stop the dice shaker of to-dos from careening around in my head. I have to roll them out onto a piece of paper. There they are motionless, and only when I look at the notepaper, do the gears start to move again, as I try to sort out the Tetris puzzle of prioritization.

That happens in the morning, when I get jarred awake by a beeping or a child alarm clock ( “Mommy, are you awake?”) stealing me from a not-so-deep slumber. I glance at the items on the page beside my bed and weave drunkenly towards the shower.

I’m barely conscious as the water snaps me into another wave of to-dos. By the time I’m out of the shower, I’m again repeating several tasks that I don’t want to forget and have to add to my list before they slip away into tonight’s stress-induced insomnia. It’s not even nine in the morning and already I feel staggeringly behind.

So much busyness, so little time.

Funny, until I typed that word, I had not noticed the similarity to business. The irony is that I hold a masters in business administration, and am working on my doctorate. So I, theoretically, am better equipped to administer my busyness than most.

According to friends and family, I am an accomplished multitasker/ juggler, worthy of awe. Yes, I am supposed to be a master of busyness and yet I feel like it is a master of me.

Is anyone else out there feeling a great deal of pressure to keep up with some frantic pace that they never asked for? Is technology helping us to keep up with our busy lives or is it simply making them even busier and less liveable?

What are we so busy doing? How did our parents and grandparents find the time to sit on the couch so many nights a week and read the paper and the latest bestsellers and watch bad sitcoms?

A friend recently remarked that she’ll die with her to-do list in hand. I agree. Which reminds me, I have to add to my to-do list: “Change final wishes to be cremated with a pad of paper and a pencil in case I need to write something down in the afterlife.”

I keep telling myself that soon everything will get easier. The kids will grow up only too quickly (or so I am told), I’ll finish my doctorate, and I’ll move onto more leisurely projects . . . and so my self-deception continues. I know I don’t know what downtime means. I keep trying to stay in the “now” and “focus on the joy and magic that surrounds us,” but as soon as I look around to be thankful for everything I have, I also notice three more things to do.

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