What Even Is A Realistic To-Do List? | AKA Making Reasonable Plans For Spring Break

History has shown that planning each and every minute detail of my life is not generally a great idea. Guess what I’m doing right now? Planning out each and every detail of spring break. SOMEONE SEND HELP PLS I NEED IT.

I think I’ve been watching too many bullet journal tutorial videos during my study breaks. I don’t currently have a bullet journal and I don’t plan to keep one, because it seems like way too much effort to maintain – at this point in my life, anyway. But I love the idea. And the tutorials are actually rather soothing to watch because the people who make them seem so knowledgeable and reassuring as they flip through several hundred color-coded, precisely organized, carefully written pages. Pages filled with SO MUCH STUFF TO DO.

And it makes me want to do all the things. All it does is encourage me and my bad habit of overplanning. I actually brought up this topic in my group therapy meeting this week. Not the bullet journaling – the overplanning.

I talked about this in a #LoveMe post last month, but since this subject has been on my mind so much lately I thought I’d talk about it once again. Last Friday night I drew up a plan that would guarantee me about twelve hours of study time on Saturday. I made it about eight or nine hours into the plan before calling it quits because I was just so exhausted.

I know it’s the depression. I know that many neurotypical people would find it difficult to focus for such a long period of time. I knew I should have taken breaks.

Yep, you read that right. I didn’t build in any time for breaks because… to tell the truth, I felt that I didn’t deserve any. And then I sit there and wonder why I feel so burnt out.

I run out of energy easily due to depression. I fall behind schedule – my elaborate schedule – because things always take longer than expected. Sometimes that’s because of depression. Sometimes that’s just because there are more components to a particular school project (or whatever) than I had originally foreseen.

And I am not good at accepting that. I’m trying to get better, though. It’s hard because… well, this is where my OCD comes into play, because I’ve learned over all these years that sometimes if I can get my brain into the right state of productivity, I can push my OCD thoughts to the background. It’s as if they’re no longer there. Of course, I haven’t actually fixed the problem, but have merely pushed it aside for the time being. Still, in the moment it feels nice. Amazing, even.

When that happens, it’s really hard for me to relax. In group therapy I was basically like, “Well, I feel pretty much dead because of midterms week but I really really want to get ahead on my coursework and I guess I’m just worried because I need time to just BE, to just DO NOTHING and relax but I also want to do everything in the world even though I know I don’t have the energy for that and will just end up feeling sad and useless when I can’t do everything. What do I do?”

And so we talked about it. I’m not going to go into detail mostly because that would make this post enormously long, but we had a really great discussion of what role perfectionism plays in all three of my mental illness and how others in the group struggle with feeling inadequate for not accomplishing their own at times far-fetched plans and goals.

I’m going to try to be mindful of that as I make list upon list upon list of things I want to do over spring break. For instance, I’d like to do a lot of studying, and my instinct is to cram all of it into one or at most two days. Realistically, though, I know I would only end up frustrated if I did that because I will inevitably fall behind. Things take longer than expected! And I need to learn that, to get that in my head!

If I plan on spending three or four days studying I can work at a more relaxed pace and hopefully avoid the feeling of panic that arrives at about midday when I realize that I’m running at least three tasks behind where I wanted to be on my to-do list by this point in the day. Ditto for all my plans related to reading/writing/blogging/spending time with family.


P.S. Literally moments after I published this, I found myself reading this article on what it’s like being the girl who has a plan for everything on Her Campus UW Stout. See? I have a problem. #planningenvy #havingmylifetogetherenvy #havingalifeenvy

About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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5 Responses to What Even Is A Realistic To-Do List? | AKA Making Reasonable Plans For Spring Break

  1. I hope your spring break goes well for you!

  2. GOOD LUCK! I totally get what you mean about planning – and half the time it makes you feel WORSE because there’s physical evidence of all the things that you were MEANT to do and yet never quite managed to ;-;

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thanks! 😀

      Right?! I am really, really bad at knowing what is actually a reasonable number of things to aim to do in an afternoon/day/week/etc. Here’s to hoping it all goes well, though! And I hope you have a nice spring break, if you get one! (I feel like that’s not really a thing in the UK, or at least isn’t called the same thing… but you have a break around Easter, right? How long is it?)

  3. Pingback: A Spring Break Planning Disaster | Musings From Neville's Navel

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