Column - A 'done' to-do list a rarityMy refrigerator has morphed into one giant humming “do list.” There are so many magnets holding do lists to that fridge, there’s a static force field big enough to make what’s left of my hair stand on end.
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
My refrigerator has morphed into one giant humming “do list.”
There are so many magnets holding do lists to that fridge, there’s a static force field big enough to make what’s left of my hair stand on end.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve depended upon do lists. I still come across ancient lists from high school and college days. I’ll be flipping through an old novel or notebooks stored in my memory trunk, and there they are, popping out at me – written on scraps of paper, bar napkins, index cards and on the end pages of books. Just the other day I found this one, brittle and faded, circa 1976:
Finish reading To the Lighthouse.
Outline essay on V. Woolf. Start writing it Tuesday without fail!
Start studying for Mass. Com. Law test.
Get 5 postage stamps.
Buy TV dinners on sale at Coborn’s.
Get case of beer for Friday party.
Dust and vacuum apartment!!!
Even to this day, when I find old do lists with every item on them crossed off, I’m filled with a sense of sweet satisfaction. Yup, did them all! Done! The “done” do list is a rarity, though. In the one above, everything was crossed off except for “Dust and vacuum apartment!!!” That’s typical, though. Dreaded house chores, on my lists, are always more underlined and exclamatized than crossed off.
In fact, I should just start making “Undone Lists” with a long itemization of dull house chores that will never get done – not until the day that long-promised maid arrives. I should actually make “Don’t Do” lists on which I can write down house chores and dental appointments. Out of sight, out of mind.
I’ve also considered making “Un-Do” lists of things I wish I hadn’t done, like trying to put together my gas barbecue grill, which looks more like a wobbly space-landing vehicle than a grill.
And then there is my “Doo-Doo” list. Well… never mind.
The sneaky thing about do lists is that by writing down things you have to do, it’s almost as if you’ve already done them and so you don’t have to really do them, at least not for awhile. After all, why do today what you can put off ‘til tomorrow?
My niece Aleah was over the other day, and we discovered, during our casual conversation, we share an obsessive compulsive disorder: Do lists.
We both have rituals. For example, I must use a pen. With a pencil, it’s too easy to cheat by erasing something you don’t want to do. I use a yellow magic marker to cross off the “done” duties.
“Denny, did you ever write down on your do lists things you already did?” she asked, laughing.
“No! You do that?”
“Yes,” she said. “Is that crazy or what?”
“Sure is,” I said. “I do that, too!”
After our laughter subsided, we began to ponder why we do that.
Our theory: By writing down and then crossing off tasks we already did, it gives us a kind of booster energy to do the rest of the list, the undone things.
Dear readers, do you do do lists? Are you obsessive-compulsive about them. Let me know. I need to know Aleah and I are not the only crazy do-listers in this world.
Dennis Dalman, a former reporter for the Echo Press, is a regular contributing columnist to the Opinion page. He is currently the editor of the St. Joseph Newsleader. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.