Monday, March 1, 2010

To do or not to do

I've been thinking for the last few weeks to re-instill my "To Do" lists. I haven't had any major To Do type list on any consistent basis in awhile. Of course, this has probably been a good thing knowing my history with To Do lists (listing my day in 15-30 minutes increments with no emphasis on basic necessities), however, I'm beginning to feel like I'm getting nothing done. It's like going from one extreme to the other, but I don't really like either end of the spectrum. Where to find the balance? (I'm beginning to realize this is a lot like my running debate post)

It's been said in commentaries by other bloggers and researchers about how our traits that make us vulnerable to eating disorders also are what drive us to excel. There is no doubt there. But sometimes, I feel like because those of us with eating disorders have these traits, it's almost like in recovery, we're not allowed to be that. Does that make sense? Like we can't have a little perfectionism or a little sense of need to accomplish (in terms of tasks), because it's just an accident waiting to happen. Maybe I'm wrong here and just projecting my own feelings.

I guess the question here is more whether I can do a "To Do" list and not go overboard. Can I write a task list and not feel like I must get these things done in one day, or else I'm a loser failure? See, this just goes back to all that black and white thinking.

Balance is so hard sometimes. How do other people deal with To Do lists? For those who are reformed To Do Listers, did you have to eliminate these type of lists all together or were you able to strike some balance?


Lou Lou said...

I am a total to-do lister! I read a great way to chunk things down and relax it all out.
its on, or maybe i read it in one of her books, oh na its on her website she has some downloadable micro somethingarather worksheet,
mini micro? micro something, micro movements?
i think thats the one, like schedule small micro movements.
4pm wednesday write a list of people who I must do thank you cards. 9am friday go to the shops and buy thank you cards. 7pm sunday night after dinner- write thank you cards to the overseas people
monday morning on the way to work-post overseas thank you cards
i always try and get a million things done, if i had to do thank you cards to a bunch of people, id try and get stamps cards, write massive amounts and just burn out and not bother, or beat myself up, or get bored. she has some great books.

Kristina said...

This is a really interesting post, not just the "to-do" aspect, but the "do we try to change how we are hard-wired" question. I have really struggled with my need to be successful. Not necessarily that it needs to fit society's definition of "successful" (nice car and all that), but finding my own definition, and one of the components to me is having a stimulating professional life. If I'm not challenged and interested in what I'm doing, I'll feel very unsatisfied with my job and my life. (Yes, I'm one of THOSE people!) At the same time, this also causes great stress, so how to balance those two? I've finally made peace with the fact that I need that challenge and stimulation, and while it may be stressful at times, it's ultimately more rewarding than not pushing myself.

Okay, random tangent...

I must admit that I'm not a huge to-do "lister". When I'm super stressed and REALLY need to organize tasks, I create lists. However, Michael and I have started monthly goals and plans, and it's basically a to do list. It's actually been great as a tool to give us a both a short and long-term vision.

For me, the key is to not focus on what I did NOT do, but to focus on what I did accomplish. That goes for the household list. We wanted to go on a hike this month, had it on our list, but rain and scheduling got in the way. It's not the end of the world - we'll just push it back.
So, as you say, it's about striking a balance.

I Hate to Weight said...

i would try not to second guess EVERY SINGLE THING I DO. and i would live in the moment.

eating disorders distract me from really living in the moment -- enjoying the good things AND also facing realities and responsibilities.

interesting post; good questions.

Cammy said...

I usually only use them at times when I'm really slammed and have a lot of things on my plate that I must not forget. Confession: sometimes I put things on the list that I've already finished, just to give myself a confidence boost. ;)
Back to your comment sometimes people could get away with things that are seen as manifestations of "perfectionism" in ED sufferers...I have had the same thought about eating idiosyncrasies. I know non-ED people with food quirks that, if I had them, would TOTALLY be ascribed to lingering ED tendencies. Of course there is a difference, but it can be a bit frustrating at times.

Kim said...

I've pretty much accepted that many of the traits that drove anorexia for me are just part of who I am. I can eat healthfully now, and be kinder to myself, but I'm still a perfectionist in many ways. I'm still an achiever. I'm still a people-pleaser. Maybe I'm a little less of those things. Anyway, I read an article recently that said that the traits that drive eating disorders can often be positive, as long as they are channeled correctly. The intensity, ambition, etc can all be good things. Personally, my to-do lists keep me very sane. I know when I'm going overboard into OCD land, but I don't think a goal for me is to stop making lists. I used to think that, but now I'm more at peace with being very Type A :) I wouldn't question yourself too much. A little questioning is good for self-awareness, but whether you decide to make a list or not, or run or not, is OK in the grand scheme of things. It's just that we have more of a tendency to get extreme, probably with anything we do.

Sarah said...

I LOVE to-do lists and like Cammy, I "cheat" sometimes and write something I already did (e.g. eat lunch, take a shower, haha!)

I write one at the beginning of the week and use it all week long. I divide it by school subjects, internship, and then general tasks (write thank yous, clean kitchen, etc.) This eliminates multiple lists and the frantic "must finish today's" attitude I would get when I did daily lists. Now I view it all as part of the fluidity of the week and just try to get it done by the end of the week, taking bits and pieces as I have time. Maybe this approach would work for you. Or an ongoing "honeydo" list for yourself would be good, just so you have some structure to your free time, as long as you view it only as suggestions for what you COULD do if you wanted?

Tiptoe said...

Thanks for all the thoughts everyone. I'm going to have to play around with what type of list will help me.

Lou Lou, I remember years ago hearing about the SARK Journal, just didn't realize there were more products.

Kristina, I agree with you that I also need challenge and stimulation in my work environment or I am unhappy. I think I just get hung up on forgetting what I am accomplishing and wind up just comparing myself to other people or being down for not being enough."

Cammy, I agree with you on eating idiosyncrasies in other people being Okay." My dad will tell me he is on some diet, and how he has been good in only eating one 2 cashews a day or something. Drives me silly sometimes.

I hate to weight, yes living in the moment is a good thing. We do lost that aspect our lives with ED.

Kim, I totally understand what you are saying. I think I have a tendency to have a hard time with acceptance.

I think I also read the same article about how ED traits can be a good thing too, but those important words "channel correctly" are powerful.

Sarah, I've "cheated" before too on to do lists. I like the idea of a week list, I just have to see what will work.