Question: When is a to-do list not a to-do list?
Answer: When it's a postcard.
When I finally took a bulldozer to my desk I found this postcard. In the past I kept things like this just because they were pretty. Now I've learned not to keep things just because I like the way they look nice (wait, that's another blog post. darn.)
Then I asked myself, why am I keeping this?
The answer: it reminded me that I needed to send a letter to the person who wrote me a card. And then -- amazing! -- I realized that if I actually would use a to-do list, I wouldn't have to hang on to it.
In the book Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding the authors mention that some hoarders keep certain items (like bills, reminder notices, ads) as a way of reminding themselves of something they need to do. The reasoning behind this is that if you keep the bill you will see it, and then you will remember to pay it. This becomes a problem for hoarders because they have so much stuff that they can't find the item in question and then they forget to do what they were supposed to do with the item.
The real problem is that this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They lose the bill in the hoard and then they forget to pay the bill. The next month's bill comes in with a late fee and they panic, feel guilty and angry, and are afraid of missing the next bill payment. So they hang on to the bill so that they won't miss the next payment. The bill gets lost in the hoard. And on, and on, and on.
I am not getting caught in another hoarding habit. If you can learn to use a planner (hey, I'm still working on this myself) then there are probably a number of items that you can get rid of because you don't need them around to be your reminders. Are you holding on to anything just because it reminds you of something you need to do?
The postcard is going in the paper recycling. And the task is going in my planner.
Now to actually write that letter.