Crossing off and moving on

Supposedly, the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer end today.

My kids go back to school tomorrow. I go back to my day job after my summer hiatus. Even if you never got an official summer break, Labor Day signifies a change in attitude, a time to return to schedules, get organized, get things done.

But really, does that ever go away, especially for women? To-do lists come with the X chromosome and are 20150807_225641516_iOSindifferent to whether it’s 80 degrees and sunny or 20 and freezing.

What I have done since reading Brigid Schulte’s Overwhelmed last year is get smarter about my to-do lists. Recognize that the to-do list never goes away and never gets completed. The key is to make sure that the items you’re crossing off are priorities. One that we achieved this summer is getting our garage door opener to work.

Until a few weeks ago, our garage door opener hadn’t worked in months. In the winter, we told ourselves it was because of the cold. Later, we said it was the time of year when the sun struck the sensors mounted to the door and interfered with the signal. Next was that the door was “cranky” and didn’t feel like working, especially in the morning. (This was somewhat rationalized by the fact that we could, usually, open the door but not shut it.)

We considered that the batteries might be at fault, but there was no obvious way to open the battery compartment. 20150807_225715790_iOSSo we clicked harder, faster, seeking the magical sequence that would close the door. Then we asked the kids to get out and close it using the fixed opener by the side door. As a last resort, we just left it open.  I also rationalized this as a Zen sort of solution — rising above the problem. But with the memory of a bike stolen right out of the garage a few years ago, it also seemed dumb.

Exasperated after months of this, my husband finally searched for a video on the brand of the remote control. He found out how to open the device. We put in new batteries. The door now opens and closes on the first try, every time.

This is not a small thing. In the mornings, the exit from the garage is a fulcrum moment, literally closing the door on our private home routines and providing the entrée to the public spheres of school and work. Making this transition smooth instead of fraught sets the tone for the whole day.

The to-do list is still long. As we return to work and school tomorrow, the time to tackle any of the tasks shrinks. There will also be 101 opportunities for glitches and snafus in the hour it takes to get our family of four from out of bed to out the door. Closing the garage door, however, will not be one of them. If I close my eyes when I click, and blast the car heater on my face, it might almost seem like I’m still at the beach.

And now, I’m going to cross off “write blog post” on my to-do list.


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