The Tyranny of the To-Do List

I love my lists. With lists, I am organised. I keep track of stuff. I get reminders to follow stuff up. With lists, I prioritise, categorise, annotate and schedule. I also remember what to buy when I go shopping.

I have electronic lists in Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Project and an iPad app called Errands. I have paper lists on the fridge and on the rather nifty notice board made from wine corks just underneath the spice rack.

Lists are good.

On the other hand, lists are bad.

On weekday (more specifically, workday) evenings, my list calls to me softly: “You have things to doooooooo…”. Frequently, however, on said evenings I have little inclination to do much of anything at all; I’ve always been that way and can’t blame my age. My list contains a variety of things domestic, church things, worthy things, ncessary things and even things trivial. Yet no matter how high I set the priority or how noble the task may be, there are (many) times when I simply cannot face doing a job or undertaking a task.

And so I fret. I compare myself to others who, it seems, have an immense amount of energy and a baffling capacity for working all the hours God sends and being constantly, annoyingly, productive. This, dear reader, is not me. And I need to get over it and throw off the tyranny of the to-do list, jettison the guilt, do what I can in the capacity God gives me and just quit fussin’ over what don’t get done.

Sure, there’s no excuse for laziness, and I do need to remember that I’m serving Christ in a lost world and that helping bring His kingdom in and serving His purposes is rather important. But if I spend the time whittling and not actually being fruitful I may as well not be fruitful and enjoy it and relax instead. Tomorrow is a new day and I will, no doubt, work for my employer then return home and see what the evening brings. What it should not bring, however, is mental anguish over how much I’m doing or what’s still not ticked off on “the list”.

In the Bible Jesus says that the burden he wants his followers to carry is “light”. I don’t for a moment think that means every day will be a bundle of laughs and that no hard work is required. He did say, though, that what He asks of me is in stark contrast to being “weary and heavy laden”. So when I’m both heavy laden and weary it’s time to get on my knees, tell Him all about my list and see what He tells me to do – if anything.


iPad Battery Dying: May have found the culprit(s)


I’ve always been impressed by my iPad’s battery life (~10 hours of use) but a few weeks back had repeated recurrences of it going flat overnight. So flat, in fact, that it refused to wake up until I connected the charger.

My first thought was that some rogue application (or “app” as we young trendies call them) was doing something in the background I wasn’t aware of. A search revealed a list of “top 10 battery killers” (which I would gladly have provided a link to but can no longer find!). #1 was Google Earth. This made some sense to me as I’ve rarely used it but certainly had done the weekend I started having problems.

After that I made a point of closing Google Earth if I used it. Unfortunately my Dead Battery Syndrome persisted.

Back to the Internet, where there’s no shortage of battery-saving tips, most of which I thought I’d already taken care of. As it turned out, there were two settings that had changed and which I believe may have been the cause:

  • Auto-Lock was set to Never instead of every x minutes. That means that if something happened to illuminate the screen, it might never go off again. I’d changed the setting when somebody else borrowed the iPad and I didn’t want to tell them what the lock code was. Once they’d finished I should have set it back.
  • Email was set to Push. My messages aren’t that vital that I have to have them immediately, so I’d always set email to collect on a schedule. I suspect it got set back to Push when I removed & re-added an account.

I reverted those two settings and followed another piece of advice to give the battery a long charge – they suggested up to 48 hours but I stopped at close to 24 hours.

Since that I’ve not had a Dead Battery for almost a week.