From the Orchestra Library

I Think My To-Do List Adds Things During the Night

Posted in Uncategorized by kschnack on June 23, 2009

Every day I go into the library with a general plan of what I think we are going to work on, how long I think it’s all going to take, what the highest priorities are (triage), and what absolutely has to get finished.  This plan evolves of course, and takes shape in the form of a master to-do list (well, that makes it sound all perfectly itemized and structured when it’s actually a continuous morphing of items into ever-new versions of the list) as well as various projects that are set up on the work counters to be done as we can get to them.

Within the master list are items I personally need to deal with, from the small to the large — whatever I won’t remember unless I write it down.  Now let me be clear about one thing before we get too far, although I figure it’s kind of obvious by now:  I am NOT one of those people who keeps a neat and tidy Action Plan on my PC or laptop or Blackberry or iPhone.   I certainly have tried, Lord knows I’ve tried.  But it never lasts.  It’s too certain of itself, or something.  Maybe it’s too much of a commitment for me to actually type a list, not enough wiggle room.

So I always end up scribbling on a piece of paper.  Recycled paper, just so you know.  Okay, pieceS of paper.  And post-it notes.  Lots of those.  I even put post-it notes with new reminders on top of crossed out things on the bigger list.

Anyway, I start every day with high hopes.  That I’ll at least knock the first five things off the list and have the fleeting but deep satisfaction that comes from marking through the items as complete, in some bold color so I can see that I actually got some of it done. Or tossing out (into the recycle bin) the used post-its when that task is finished. I believe this every day.  (What is it they say about mental illness — doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result?……)

Then I arrive at work.  The phone starts ringing, I check the the e-mails.  And before I’ve had a chance to start on the first list item, or even look at the list, several new issues have come up that need immediate attention.  Someone in the orchestra needs an extra part, finance needs to know what to code a particular expense, operations is finalizing the tour book and needs the programming worksheet information double-checked for instrumentation, the music director’s assistant has called to say he needs about 12 scores (this week!), a set of parts needs a rehearsal system created and marked, a program has changed so a rental order needs to be placed, the pops conductor calls to find out if the sax parts are covered in a particular tune…………and none of these things were even on my list.  But they have to be done, and they have taken priority over my previous plans, so I get busy on them.

When I finally get back to the list hours later, I notice something very disconcerting.  It’s gotten longer.  There are more scribbled items, some circled in red or highlighted, new post-it notes attached to the edge of my desk, and more pieces of paper! Instead of feeling the sense of accomplishment after finishing something and crossing it off, my list is now longer than when I left yesterday.  Where did these projects come from?  Who has gotten hold of my list? Has it come alive at night like the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and gained a mind of its own?  OMG — IT’S adding things!!

Please, someone tell me my list has joined a mutiny, no longer responds to authority, and is adding a ridiculous number of things for me to do…….and that I am not the only one with this problem.  I beg of you.  Otherwise, I’m in serious trouble.


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