My to-do list keeps getting longer. I don’t think it’s supposed to work that way.
In fact, it’s only been recently that I’ve made myself a to-do list at all. My wife has always been a list-maker, but up until now, I’ve always felt like I’ve been able to keep what needs doing, and when it needs to be done, straight in my head.
However, the past few summers have come and gone, and when fall rolls around, there have been too many “I wish I had gotten to that” moments.
So, this fall, I made a list. It takes up a full page in my notebook. And no matter how hard I try, it doesn’t seem to be getting shorter.
I started out organizing my to-dos into outdoor and indoor categories. I have been prioritizing the outdoor items, because most of them are weather- and season-dependent. That column includes winterizing the camper and raking the leaves in the yard.
(I will confess, I didn’t actually rake the leaves — I used the lawnmower to bag them up. But hey, it got crossed off my list!)
The column for indoor to-dos isn’t quite as long, but it does include some chores that have been waiting for a long time, like fixing the doorbell that stopped working a year and a half ago, and painting the window casings that were replaced last winter.
Then there’s the outdoor-indoor hybrid to-do, “organize the garage.” But that one probably should go on a list of its own, because it will always need to be done. There’s no crossing that one off.
In any case, as we get toward the end of October, I’ve been using different criteria to organize my to-dos: urgent and optional.
For example, getting a few fence posts in the ground before it freezes is now in the urgent category. Getting the fence attached to them is optional — it can be done after freeze-up.
Likewise, we’re in a very tight window for cleaning the gutters. All the leaves are off the trees, but it hasn’t yet gotten so cold that they’ve been frozen into blocks of ice.
Also in the optional category is leveling out the spot where we park the camper for the winter. There’s a depression where the wheels on one side go, and I’ve been meaning to make a little gravel pad to level it out. But my wife and I took advantage of a non-rainy day to get the camper parked and covered, so the 2-by-6 boards we used to level it out last year will have to do for another year.
Bicycle maintenance is also moving into the optional category for now. But I need to keep it on the list, because next spring, when it’s time to ride and I realize I forgot all those things I wanted to adjust or upgrade or fix, it will be urgent.
There’s one more category that I’m thinking of as my aspirational to-dos. That list includes losing 10 pounds before ski season starts (which, for the record, comes with a to-don’t list, as in, don’t have a second helping at dinner, don’t grab a candy bar in the checkout line, don’t eat all those cookies someone left in the break room at work).
Dropping the weight would be healthy and all that good stuff, but if I can get close to the weight I was last winter, I won’t have to add “re-measure my kick wax pocket” to my to-do list when the snow starts falling.
Uh-oh. Thinking about “when the snow starts falling” is reminding me of a whole bunch of other chores to get done.
I’ll add them to my list.
Will Morrow lives in Kenai. You can email him at email@example.com.