Can we say no to our to-do lists?

7 Dec

Colour-controlled to-do lists can be extremely satisfying.

I laughed out loud at this summary of a new book for working parents, which is from the managing editor of Realsimple.com, Kristin van Ogtrop.

Whether you’re a parent or not, a skim through the list of ‘Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom’ in Kristin’s new book Just Let Me Lie Down gives some humorous food for thought. In her alphabetical list, I plumped for K and L as the pertinent points that help me organise my  life.

K is the ‘Kingdom of No, where you can say no without feeling guilty about it. Not always easy. Before you feel you have a right to enter this kingdom, you may feel you have to stand in the passport queue for some time, debating and berating yourself about the impact of saying no might have on someone – or perhaps saying no raises fears of your own abandonment and rejection. Either way, it can be difficult so say no and mean it.

L is for the List Paradox. This one is for the Control Queens who believe they can manage life when it’s in a list in front of them – and who, overwhelmed by the inability to complete every task on their to-do list, and the feeling of inadequacy that often results, will add tasks to the list that they’ve already done.

I am unapologetically and openly guilty of L: using  brightly coloured pens to note and delete my daily tasks and priorities is, literally, a highlight of my day. I even have charts to help me prioritise what my priorities will be for the working hours ahead of  me.

However, I can’t help but wonder whether, if I did more of K, my L might be less punitive and more eager to down tools and play, colourfully, at the end of a hard day at work…?

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