Git ‘er done. Tackle that to-do list. Finish the job.
What about the jobs that never end?
What about the work that keeps growing as you do it?
And where on earth did we get this idea that we have to finish everything every day anyway? That’s the big question my brain is pondering this morning. Because I know that this idea is sunk deep into my very bones, but I am not sure why or where it came from. All I know is that it is causing unnecessary stress and harm, and probably not just for me.
My first job after high school was working as a secretary in a patent and trademark law firm. After I’d temped there for a few weeks, they hired me, and within a few months I had several attorneys to myself as well as the whole firm bringing me work. I wanted to be a good worker, and I actually enjoyed the work, so I worked hard every day to clear that inbox. I was very quickly staying late, sometimes until 8 or 10 at night, just to clear the box and be able to say I was done. It took the office manager explicitly coming over and telling me that I wasn’t expected to clear the box, that it wasn’t my job to clear the box, before I started going home with work left undone.
Is this an autism thing? Or a cultural thing? I don’t know.
Looking at my life today, I do have this huge to-do list. I maintain it in Todoist, with many categories and priorities and tags to try and get a handle on it. It’s so big because I expect Todoist to relieve a lot of that “mental load” so many wifey articles talk about today. If something needs doing, I put it into the list so that it won’t be forgotten. Then I don’t worry so much about what I’m forgetting.
Instead, I worry about getting everything done every day. Nevermind that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things that theoretically should be done every day. Exercise, cooking, housecleaning, gardening, studying, practicing music, schoolwork with each of the kids, working on church activities, writing…these are all things that are supposed to be done every day, and I’m pretty sure I just filled a couple of days there. And none of it will stay done. People get hungry every day, exercise is not a “once and done” thing, the kids will mess up the house and dirty the laundry. It’s not like an entry for “Send flowers to Christina” or “Buy this cool thing for David for a present,” where I do it and then it’s all gone. All of this stuff just keeps coming back. And if I’m supposed to do all of that repeating stuff every day, when do I get time for me, or for the once-and-dones?
Why do I keep measuring myself against impossible standards? What does it take to permanently shift my mind-set into “journey” mode instead of “project” mode, where it becomes okay to just keep swimming? I’m getting better at it. Having my head clear and my body energized with enough blood is helping everything these days. But I still catch those thoughts bubbling up, and that constant running narrative in the back of my head telling me it’s not enough, I’m not good enough, I don’t do enough.
And I think back to that first job, and I wonder what gave me that idea in the first place.