When I started my first teaching job after finishing my undergraduate degree, I had the pleasure of working side-by-side with a master To-Do lister. Steve, a teacher of 20 years, was the real deal when it came to managing life via Post-It notes. He came to work each day with not just one To-Do list, but with a whole collection of To-Do lists. These small pieces of paper would be neatly folded and stuffed into his back pocket for safe-keeping.
Steve's lists seemed to break from chronological time and enter the cosmological, the eternal. How could one person complete that many tasks per day? The challenge seemed impossible to my lazy, 22-year-old self. No one could conquer that many errands and events and activities in one day without somehow stopping the flow of time--or leaving the temporal plane altogether. No one, that is, except for Steve, armed with his list-making pencil.
Steve's To-Do lists ranged from the short-term (hourly, daily), to the long-term (weekly, monthly, etc.) Throughout the day errands would be marked off with the authoritative line of a pencil, and, without hesitation, new errands and events would be included.
Without a doubt, Steve got things done. And I didn't. Go figure.
Steve's organizational methods seemed somewhat appealing to me, but at the ripe and hippied age of 22, I hesitated to manage my own life in such a manner. I shuddered to think of what these Post-It notes would do to my image. (Is not washing your hair and wearing hole-in-the-knee jeans an image? Maybe. Is it one that should be upheld in the workplace? Probably not, but the 22-year-old version of me paid no mind to values like "professionalism in the workplace." Instead, she lived by this value: "Why the hell not?!")The 22-year-old me also thought the President was part-lizard, part-alien. As you can see, she was clearly not ready for To-Do lists.
Steve and I worked at a small charter high school south of Tucson. I was an assistant teacher, and Steve was the lead instructor. Aside from occasional visits from case managers and other school administrators, Steve and I were pretty much alone. Well, except for our students--our creative, rambunctious, and, at times, angsty students.
As a result of this shared isolation, none of us could keep many secrets. We all knew who Margarita was dating. Victor's efforts to win back an old girlfriend went unnoticed by few. And if Veronica was tired of doing work, not a soul was left unawares...mostly because she would sigh, dramatically close her book, then yell, "Uh, I'm tired of doing work!" Nope, nothing in our one-room school remained a secret for long.
As much as I loved these cozy quarters, our own batch of problems arose from time to time. Aside from the normal issues one would expect from enclosing a large group of teenagers in a small room for hours on end, some of the problems--or, I guess you could say my problems--were To-Do list related. Try as I might to ignore Steve's perfect Post-Its, there were days when I just couldn't. The minute I turned away from one pink and perfect list, my eyes would fall upon an even pinker and more perfect list. I felt like "the other child"--the one who is forced to stare for eternity at the "much better child's" Nobel Peace Prize trophy sitting proudly on the mantle of a one-room cabin. Day in day out, she (your humble, disheveled, and hippied "other child") must sit and confront that symbol of "betterness," unable to escape its glare.
To do this summer:
1. Buy a silk robe
5. Drink mimosas under said palm tree while wearing said robe and slippers6. Uh, what else do you want from me? The list ended at #5, dude.
1. David Lebovitz's The Sweet Life in Paris (which comes out in May!):
Misc. food to-do stuff:
1. Nothing. Not an ounce of this summer shall be wasted.
What are you including in your own culinary To-Do list for the summer? What 3 recipes or experiments do you wish to conquer in these sunniest of months?