I’ve been stricken by a particularly insidious strain of to-do list paralysis lately. My list is fine: it’s been manageable and I’ve been keeping on top of it. It’s the bigger areas that I’m trying to figure out how to balance to make sure I can spend enough time on everyting. Things like:

  • “I should read more books this year.”
  • “I should finally start that project I told so-and-so I would help out with.”
  • “I should write some blog posts that I’ve been meaning to write since I kind of made it a New Year’s resolution, sort of.”
  • “I should go to the gym.”
  • “I should try updating some modules for Drupal 7 and figure out what’s different.”
  • “I should go check out the free museums I haven’t seen yet.”

So of course, when I’ve got some time free on a weekday evening or Saturday afternoon, I run through all this in my head and just want to take a nap instead. I haven’t figured out a good way to manage this. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to just focus on one thing until it’s done - some project or book, for example - but I’m reluctant to just put off everything else until I finish up the first thing, days or weeks later. I’ve also considered scheduling time for things. For example, I might say that Monday evenings are for reading, Tuesday evenings are for Project A, Wednesday evenings are for writing, and so on. There are several problems with this, though: the desire to keep some time open to do whatever I’m in the mood for at the time, the fact that I’ll only get to each “thing” once a week or so, the fact that I sometimes get really engaged in something and want to spend several days or weeks working on it.

Somehow, this was a lot easier in college when my class schedule was all over the place, several of those projects had firm due dates, and I spent much of my time hanging out with other people. What am I doing wrong now?