The Mathematics of To-Do Lists

Try as I might, I just can’t seem to figure out the mathematics behind to-do lists.  Sometimes the lists are brief, deceptively hiding the magnitude of the tasks that lie ahead.  At other times, the list can span for pages, yet contain not much more than a moment’s worth of work.  Sometimes  I look at a list that is all crossed off and I feel relief, a sense of accomplishment.  Yet that same page can leave me feeling drained.

This has been one of those weeks where I have felt overwhelmed.  It is a busy month at work, with many pressures from all sides.  My sleep has been fitful, most likely because my mind is spinning and my yoga practice has been somewhat neglected.  My instinct when I feel like this is to slow down, spend quiet time in solitude, and rest.

This is where the strange mathematics comes into play.  I have found when I feel like my lists are taking over, the best way for me to recover my balance is by adding something to my list.  Not just any task will do; the best combination is time with a friend in the outdoors.  Simply going for a walk, hike, or run with a companion helps to reset my brain, calm the anxiety impulse, and remind me that I am not the sum of my tasks.

By adding just one more thing, I effectively whittle my to-do list down to nothing.  The mathematics may not work out, but the effect on my well-being sure does.  The weather is supposed to be nice this weekend; I think I’ll make time for a hike.

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