Crossing every item off

In college, I was an incredibly organized student. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was that super OCD freak no one wanted to partner with in groups — you know, the one who sends 1,076 emails a day about pending projects, takes over every activity and generally acts like a bossy mess.

I’m very bossy.

Now, I’ll admit I’ve gotten lax with my duties. I’m a one-woman show at the newspaper where I’ve worked for four years, though I get a tremendous amount of help from my friend and officemate, Sandy. Still, I have my job down to a science: which sections get published on which days; when I need to respond to messages; when I need to write columns.

I’m a machine. Only I have a sweet little heart.

But things are changing. My job is changing. I’m going to be doing the same work — but with new software. I’m losing my office and being moved to another part of the building (le sigh), though I’ll gain a window and view outdoors (awesome).

And all of this is happening just as I’m preparing for a trip overseas — a long trip. The longest I’ve ever been away from work . . . ever.

So I’m stressed. I’m flipping out. I’m trying to learn the new software; box up my entire life at work (lots of junk); going through old paperwork, sorting out what I no longer need and preparing some of my personal possessions for charity; and attempting to get super far ahead on all my sections so that I don’t leave Sandy, my kindhearted friend, in a lurch. She’s covering for me while I’m gone for almost two weeks.

Two. Weeks.

When we were planning this trip, it seemed so far away. Unfathomable, really. We’ve been talking about for months, I got my time approved at work and it all just seemed . . . so distant. I’ve long lived by the mantra that “everything will just work out” — that somehow, some way, things would fall into place.

But I’m leaving in two weeks. For two weeks. And things aren’t just working out.

I’ve been losing sleep, trying to figure out how to get it all done. How to do all my normal work plus my sections for the two weeks I’m gone, which includes writing four 450-word columns. I was thinking about just doing a “Best of ‘Right, Meg?'” and calling it a day, but I don’t want to phone it in.

I’m not that type of person.

As I mentioned, I’m pretty Type A — and OCD. So I’m reverting back to those age-old habits — the ones that sustained me through four years of college, several jobs and a myriad of relationships and obligations. I commuted to the University of Maryland for three years from my home an hour away, and there were many days I went straight from an eight-hour day at school to a six-hour night at work. And then? Then I came home at midnight, made myself some “dinner” and started on homework. And studying. Until the middle of the night.

How did I do it?

Red Bull.

Just kidding. Well — sort of. Caffeine, sure, but more importantly: lists.

I made lists.

Lists of ongoing projects. Lists of current projects. Lists of books I needed to read and by when I needed to have them read. Calendars for school projects, personal projects, work projects. Lists of my calendars. Lists of my classmates and ways to reach them.

Basically, I went psycho. And got organized.

In preparing for the new software, the move and the trip, I’ve covered slips of paper with my scrawly handwriting and scratched my brain thinking of anything I need to remember before I go.

Things I need to buy for the trip.

Topics I need to write about for work.

Books I need to read, review and then schedule to post while I’m away.

Accounts I need to suspend.

It’s endless.

But I enjoy making these lists, friends . . . it helps me sleep at night. It brings me peace. Once I’ve written something down, I don’t need to keep it rattling around in my brain — lest I forget about it.

I can forget about it — until I need to do it, then cross it off my list. And that’s the best thing ever:

Crossing every item off.

18 thoughts on “Crossing every item off

  1. i absolutely love lists–it helps so much.
    Have a blast on your trip!!

    I spent last summer working and traveling around the U.K.
    I loooove Edinburgh (will be going back to visit friends in June) and had a real crappy time both times I was in London…but the 3 days i spent in Ireland were by FAR the best time I have ever have…in Dublin, get away from the Temple Bars and explore the real local pubs, and you absolutely MUST go to the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. (!!!)

    If you want/have time (:P), I just finished documenting my trip on my blog 🙂



    • I’ll definitely check that out, Nessa! Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy London — that has to be my favorite place on Earth. Really looking forward to seeing Edinburgh and Ireland, and hope to be able to take your advice and head for the coast! Can’t wait!


  2. I’ve always been a huge list maker. They keep me organized and sane and I get a great deal of satisfaction when I cross something off, even if it’s the smallest task on the list.


    • I’m with you, Kathy, and usually tackle the smallest things first — just for the satisfaction of crossing it off! Makes me feel accomplished.


  3. Good luck with all of these changes. As I get older, god that makes me sound old (!), I try to be less and less controlling of the chaos because I know there is only so much I can actually control 🙂


    • You’re definitely right — there are so many things I can’t control, regardless of my urges to dig my talons in and manipulate everything to my liking! (Ha.) I’m slowly, slowly learning to let go, relax and let the chips fall where they may.


  4. I can feel the speed of your writing and anxious thoughts coming out of the computer. All your OCD, Type A Personality Traits makes you, you..and I am guessing a mighty successful you! It is always a pleasure reading your posts and it is true “All will be well” and you have to promise yourself (at least during the day time of your trip) to not blog, write or check emails…..Savor where you are and all of the “stuff” will be waiting for you when you get home-emails will be dated, you will make your lists AND all will be fine. Bon Voyage!! Post Pics Please!!


  5. Oh lady, I knew we had a lot in common but this sealed it 🙂 I discovered recently that I had so many lists in so many places that it was becoming hard to track them all. And they cross-referenced a lot. So, I now have a list BOOK. Yep, a journal that is just ONE GIANT LIST. Anytime I have a thought of something that needs to get done (in painstaking detail, most of the time) it goes in the book. It’s the only way I’m keeping law school, work, bar exam prep, graduation, etc. under control 🙂

    Bon voyage! I’m jealous, I love London!


  6. I keep telling myself that making lists is the way to go, but somehow I just don’t make the time to actually make them. The only time I make lists is when I’m going away and need to pack. I get paranoid that I’ll forget something behind. But other than that…yep, lists are the…last thing on my list.


  7. I’m a list maker too. My job is changing as well, in that I am now responsible for training a new employee and bringing him up to speed on the job so that I can stop doing the work of two people. My problem is that I write everything down, while he doesn’t. It has caused tremendous frustration for me because he keeps asking the same questions and making the same mistakes. If ever I needed confirmation that writing things down helps one learn, this is it!

    It sounds like you are tremendously prepared and will leave everything extremely organized so that you can enjoy your two-week vacation and not worry at all. Good luck!


  8. lol, aw Meg, it’ll all be alright!! Just get done with what you need to. The important stuff. Your job, life, and blog (followers) will all be here when you get back from your trip! Good luck!


  9. Don’t stress!! You could not post for the entire time you’re away and ALL of your followers would still be here when you got back. Have an AMAZING time in the UK!!!


  10. Ok, take a deep breath…you are going to have a wonderful vacation. Make sure you make a list for your vacation and place that at the top. And then make sure it gets crossed off 🙂


  11. Once upon a time, I would have envied you. 🙂 But gradually over the years (I’m now 53), I learned to acknowledge and accept my own gifts, and to credit myself for my accomplishments.

    Your fast paced and organized methods are obviously working for you. 🙂
    If there are any red flags pertaining to your health or relationships, that will be the time to make some changes.

    Good post!


Comments are closed.