“Be not simply good; be good for something.” — Henry David Thoreau
This is great advice; but try not to be too much of a good for something. There is a Greek Proverb that says, “The excess of virtue is a vice.” Overdoing what you do is likely an example of such a vice. You just don’t know when to quit. Sure, it makes you feel a bit superior; but as Ts’ai Ken T’an advised, “Water which is too pure has no fish;” and that isn’t a good thing. Even Abraham Lincoln said, “It has ever been my experience that folks who have no vices, have very few virtues.” As you see, overdoing it definitely has the potential for getting really unacceptable. Fortunately, George Orwell understood the root of the matter, “On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time;” so it’s OK to have one of those to do lists so long as you don’t overdo it. Here’s how to manage the whole thing.
Is work piling up and there’s just too much to do? Are you getting frustrated with things backing up on you? Does your to-do list keep getting longer with no end in sight? Would you stop and relax if you weren’t so up-tight?
Does the daily rat race leave your head spinning? Is it depressing to see that the damn rats are winning? Are you holding up the world but feeling it slip? Is the balance in your life beginning to tip?
Did your future just flash before your eyes? Was it what you expected or a total surprise? Either way you don’t need to see it twice. Put on the brakes and consider this advice.
Grab that to-do list and a ballpoint with ink. Shortening the list isn’t as hard as you think. Put a checkmark beside jobs actually belonging to you. All other jobs can wait ‘til you’re through.
Look at your checkmarks and handle it this way. Put a + beside tasks you can finish today. Rank the + items from more urgent to less. If it’s hard to decide, quick take a guess.
Take your + list and cut it in half. Cut it in the middle and don’t stop to laugh. What you have left is urgent so approach it this way. Just buckle down and do today’s work today.
Now you know so there you go.