Saturday, 13 June 2015

To Do Or Not To Do?

I have three ‘to-do’ lists in my head, which I think of as ‘Must’, ‘Should’ and ‘Would Like’.  I also have a physical one, which vacillates between the whiteboard in the kitchen (which I did away with two years ago, then reinstated two months ago because after the decorators had been, my kitchen was briefly ‘terribly house-and-garden’ and not to be sullied with Post-It stickers) and Post-It stickers.

‘Musts’, on the face of it, are easy, but they break down when you break them down into their sub-categories, which I might (no, hell, will, it’s me writing this stuff!) call internally- and externally imposed ‘musts’.  Internally-imposed musts are things like ‘must go shopping’ or ‘must clean the loo’. You either do them or things start to get unsustainable.  Externally-imposed musts are trickier (‘must phone Sheila (because she’s expecting me to)’, or ‘must check minutes of last meeting (otherwise people will frown and I’ll blush’).  They’re not quite ‘shoulds’, but veering in that direction if I’m not carefully self-disciplined.

‘Would Likes’, or ‘Wants’, (such as ‘get new Dylan album*’ or ‘re-learn the guitar’ or ‘sort out those 1990s photo albums’) are easy.  They will happen.  The only constraint is time and energy (of both of which one has either to assume an unlimited supply, or to give up). 

Genuine ‘Shoulds’ are the hardest, because they are moral obligations which no-one else will notice if they go unfulfilled.  For this reason, I obviously can’t give any examples here.

The modern world moulds and constrains us to live our lives in lists.  Butterflies and rainbows don’t seem to have this problem.  I suppose I’ll have to carry on learning the game, until it doesn’t matter any more.


*Interesting.  Dylan sings 30’s torch songs, and proves that, though he’s no Tony Bennett, he can still hit several of the notes.  But I can’t forgive his slaughter of ‘Some Enchanted Evening’.


  1. I keep experimenting with to-do apps and stuff like one-note but they never cope with the nuances of which you speak and one becomes easily diverted with the medium over the actual content.
    I think His Bobness is now taking the piss - I'm off to put on "Like a Rolling Stone"

  2. Guilt seems to keep me going, mostly, when it comes to things I must or should do. Would Like tends to surface only when it comes to food.

  3. I try not to do guilt, which is relatively easy for me, having few external dependencies. But when a genuine 'should' crops up, I hope I usually manage to rise to it.