The to-do-list mentality: Procrastinate, then panic

08/03/2014 12:00 AM

08/02/2014 10:48 PM

The old things-to-do list is always there, isn’t it? Funny how some things are on the list for days, weeks, maybe even months before finally getting checked off. Those are the things we don’t necessarily want to do, and there is no immediate need to get them completed.

But do you know when you will get around to them? When there is something that should be done – say, a writing deadline. That’s when other things on the list, and even some that aren’t on the list, get your attention.

It’s such a drag when you’ve done everything except the most important task at hand. You’ve prepared dinner (at 2 p.m.), hung a picture that’s been leaning against the wall for months, cleaned the drawer that was full of junk. (So that’s where the good scissors have been since last year.) All phone calls have been returned and e-mails answered.

The good news is all those things can be checked off your list. The bad news is the task that actually needs attention is lurking there, waiting. Remember in school when you had homework? You did your favorite subjects first. Since I found math a complete mystery that made me cry, I always did English first, social studies next and any extra credit either had to offer. But there was my math, and later algebra, homework, rearing its ugly head. I swear that math book sneered at me, making me wish I had more homework in English.

My mom tried to teach me to prioritize. She always advised doing unpleasant or difficult tasks first. Do prioritize, don’t procrastinate.

Somehow I prefer what Mark Twain said: “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”

It has been said that creative people are the worst procrastinators. I totally agree with writer Bill Watterson, who said: “You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.

“What mood is that? Last-minute panic.”

Amen to that.

There’s an app for that: Did you know the first week of August is National Simplify Your Life Week? I got a press release saying so, so it must be true. When I told my friend we should celebrate and simplify, she said, “I can tell you how to simplify my life: Get school started. And get these four boys out of this house.” The people at a company called HomeZada agrees you should start at home, but they mean your house.

HomeZada ( is an online and mobile software application that tracks home improvement projects, maintenance calendars, inventory and home finances. You will get an alert every month, so you’ll remember what maintenance is due. And it ends up being a historical record of your house. That could be helpful. For example, I can’t remember if we got our new roof 10 years ago or 15. All I know is that roof has a guarantee that will last longer than I will.

App or no app, this is a good time, as summer winds down, to simplify your life. Start by finding your checklist. If you can find it.

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