Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I am a little squirrely.

I am a list-maker and a planner.

I'm not always a very good follow-througher.

The lists help, though. My brain is filled with little squirrels, all apparently hyped up on crack cocaine, darting around and shouting loudly in tiny squirrel voices about all the things I need to do.

Squirrels in a crack den.*
There's a Do the Dishes Squirrel and a Feed the Dogs Squirrel and a Clean the Rabbit Cage Squirrel and a whole big messy pile of Laundry Squirrels. There are Dinner Plans Squirrels and Vacuuming Squirrels mixed in with Reorganize All of the Kitchen Cabinets Squirrels and Rearrange All the Furniture in the Office Squirrels and Stuff To Do For Work Squirrels and every kind of project, idea, inspiration, or chore squirrel imaginable.

If I leave the squirrels in my head, their frantic scrabbling on the inside of my brain paralyzes me. The only squirrel I can hear over the din is the quiet Veg Out In Front of the TV Squirrel, who I think smokes pot instead of snorting crack, or something, because he's very mellow and speaks in a low, slow voice that provides a nice contrast to all his chattering brethren.


I have learned that I can trap the squirrels and get them out of my head by writing them down. So I make To Do Lists. EPIC To Do Lists. Pages and pages of to do lists filled with idea squirrels.

The problem is that usually my mind becomes overwhelmingly squirrely and in desperate need of a To Do List intervention while I'm at work. So I trap all the squirrels in an epic To Do List or three typed into a Google Drive document.

Then I'm left with all this antsy squirrel energy and I can't do anything about it.

So I start organizing my To Do Lists. I separate tasks by category (usually room in my house) and break them down into all their component parts. The Organize the Office Squirrel has a litter of little squirrels called Clear Off the Desk and File Papers and Hang Pictures. The Laundry Squirrels have many babies: Wash Darks, Dry Darks, Fold Darks, Put Away Darks, Wash Jeans, Dry Jeans, Fold Jeans, Put Away Jeans, etc.

The idea is to tame each rambunctious, overwhelming, hard-to-catch squirrel into a tiny bite-sized nibble of a project (I think my metaphor just strayed to the point where I'm now eating drugged squirrels, oops) for me to conquer. And by conquer, I mean "cross of my to-do list with a flourish of vindictive satisfaction."

(And yes, I put things on my list for the sole purpose of being able to have them crossed off already. For instance, I'm making a To Do List for the week, and though it is Tuesday, I wrote down everything I did yesterday and then happily struck through them all. I also always include things that I'll do no matter what, like Go To Work or Meeting, 7 p.m., so that I always have something to feel accomplished about.)

Then I take all those baby squirrels and do a To Do List organized by time frame, assigning squirrels to particular days over the course of a week or weekend, arranged in rough order of importance or when they should be begun (so the Laundry Squirrels always go first because I should always toss a load in the wash before I start anything else so that my washing machine and I can multi-task).

Often, I'll include something like Fifteen Minutes On A Project, when I know I don't have time enough to do a whole task but do have the time to accomplish something. I can grab my lists of thematically organized tasks and work through as many Clean the Office tasks as I get to in fifteen minutes.

The organized lists work great if I still have any of that squirrel energy left when I get home. They don't work as well if I use up all my energy a) organizing my lists of things to do (which happens way too often) or b) doing actual work at work (lame).

My house is a complete wreck right now, and I have a million things to do that may or may not get done (before T-Rex gets here and/or ever). If you looked at my actual life right now, you would pretty much just see chaos.

But if you could see my To Do Lists, you would think I was the Most Awesome and Organized and Put-Together Person Ever In the History of Organized and Put-Together People. Think of me thus and ignore the chaos.

And luckily no one needs to see the squirrels.

*Image source here.


  1. Yet another thing we have in common- the lists! The writing them so we don't go (too) crazy and writing things down we've already done so we can cross things off.
    I totally understand all of this..and yup, my lists don't necessarily mean EVERYTHING gets done, but they still help keep me somewhat sane. That's enough for me:-).

    1. Right? Plus, when I go back the next week I can see how much I did and it makes me happy. Also, if I'm itching to organize something in my house but I'm stuck at work instead, then organizing the lists slash organizing the house in my head makes me feel lots better.

      Squirrels are much easier to deal with on paper than inside your brain, even if they do keep having little squirrel babies everywhere.

  2. I totally feel you on that one! Though actually, I wish I was better at making lists...usually I just have the little squirrels running around in my head and every once in a while one of them pops to the foreground and I actually remember to do it. And sometimes I just make JM get a piece of paper and write down all the things I tell him to, that way I get the things out of my head and I don't have to make a list!

    Anyways, not so much with the list making, but I totally understand the squirrels :-)

    1. The lists are like a little squirrel catch-and-release program. The squirrels are too clever for that to get rid of them forever, but it gets them out of the house for a day or two.

      That's nice of JM to do the list writing for you, but I swear I feel so accomplished when I have these shiny little lists that that's half the fun. ^_^

      The DDH does not have a squirrel infestation in his brain. He doesn't understand me at all. Le sigh.

  3. So true!!! You put my thoughts into words perfectly. And hilariously. I think adding to all of the planning squirrels are the emotional squirrels that can only be dealt with by journaling, exercise, alone time, prayer, or talking with wise friends. --Christi from JBDC

    1. Oh, emotions aren't squirrels. They're carnivorous rabbits that vampire the squirrels (aka drain my motivation for accomplishing things or implementing my ideas) and kick you really hard in the gut with their giant back legs and imperiously demand that you feed them carrots OR ELSE.

      All the other girls are like, "Yay! Cute fluffy FEELINGS!" and I'm all, "Don't trust them! They have nasty sharp teeth!" and I have put waaaaaay too much thought into this metaphor so I'm going to leave now.