I use a to-do list to organize my life. It allows me to see all my tasks on one sheet of paper.
It feels good when every single item on that list is checked off. But even if that’s not the case, it feels good to be able to wrap my mind around my life.
Recently, though, my to-do list has grown so large that I can’t keep it all in my head at once. I’ve been forgetting things; I’ve been putting things off; I’ve been partially completing tasks, but not finishing because I’m tired and I want to sleep.
I love efficiency, so when this list doesn’t get checked off, it becomes a sign that I’m losing. It has become a scoreboard for my life. It makes me miserable to see tasks sit in the purgatory that is my to-do list.
The other day, I was looking at a picture frame in our apartment. It encases a painting I got from Zimbabwe. If you look at it straight-on, it looks fairly perfect. But if you look at it from the side, you can see that the matting on the painting is crooked. That’s because Kristen and I cut the matting ourselves, and we said it was OK if it wasn’t perfect.
If the picture matting was flawless, I’d walk by the painting every day and not think too much of it. But it’s ever-so-slightly imperfect, and every time I look at it, I think about how Kristen and I patched together our own frames and matting and stumbled along, together, to do a passable job on these picture. It makes me smile.
The idea that so many artifact in my life could bring such beautiful thoughts to my mind makes me so thankful. It makes me so happy. It makes that long list of to-dos seem less like tasks, and more like suggestions. And as much as it pains me to say this, it make efficiency seem overrated.