Getting back on top

Argh, my lovely week off nearly gone. At least, it’s already Thursday, and all that Halloween stuff to sort out, costumes, the treats, somehow a big sleepover. And I am a massive list maker, and my list is not even half crossed off.

Part of this is the trade of for spending several days away. I yearn for deep countryside at this time of the year, autumn colour and stars but, failing that, a mini break in one of my favourite cities was fabulous. Do you recognise it? The picture above is not even mine – because I managed to wipe all my shots from my phone. Me and photos… It’s generally a disaster.

But my beloved to-do list. Lists are my way—okay, one way—to manage stress, my structure for non-working days, my aide memoire, progress tracker, a way of being accountable to myself, and to the kids.

The menace of the to-do items…

Which means there has to be a flip side, an opposing tension. It bugs me, this incomplete list, mind going over the outstanding items.

There is something called the “Zeigarnik effect”, apparently. It’s named for the twentieth-century Lithuanian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik, written up in her work “On Finished and Unfinished Tasks” in 1927. Dr. Zeigarnik demonstrates, very roughly put, that we remember tasks that are incomplete or were interrupted far better than those that we completed in full. In fact, participants who had their tasks interrupted were able to recall details of them around 90% better than those that had been allowed to complete the same tasks. Instructing the participants not to think about the tasks was no help (surprise). Only if and when we have satisfactorily delivered an undertaking, it seems, can the brain let it go. If not, be prepared for that internal pestering.

So there my bulleted items sit, with three days to go: finishing my job application, even starting my passport application*, the painting (stairs, not art), sorting, book reviews, catching up with personal admin. Some are just impossible – that set of chapel chairs will forever be stacked in the basement I think, most resolutely un-upcycled, making themselves rather less of a bargain.

And at the bottom of the list, followed by a faltering question mark: Writing? Weeks out of routine now, sporadic little bursts only. Are me and NaNoWriMo, November’s National (in the US, but spread beyond its shores) Novel Writing Month ever meant to be? 1st November tomorrow, and I don’t want it to be the day of the dead objective. NaNoWriMo sets goals, offers structure, yet also reassures, sets out to empower – it should be the perfect opportunity.  If I only get around to it.

*Though I may be procrastinating on the passport application, to be honest – because presumably I’ll get one of the pre-EU navy UK ones rather than the burgundy passport of these many past years. And I think I will weep.

‘The Zeigarnik Effect Explained’ in Psychologists’ World,
retrieved 31 October 2019.
Duncan Kidd at Unsplash
Kelly Sikkema at Unsplash

20 thoughts on “Getting back on top

  1. I remember that finished item on my TODO list–“renew my passport”. Not nearly as complicated as I had feared here in the US.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not bad here either – I just never get round to getting the new headshots for ages though. Increasingly when I get my photo taken, my mother’s face appears – oddly!


  2. Good thought on the passport. 🙂 I understand the future passport will be done in France. They won the bid. Imagine a Frog UK passport. 😉
    Now your photos? If you have Android, I don’t know, but if it’s Iphone, deleted photos are still there. Go to photos, out of “albums”, go to “recently deleted”, there should be an option to “restore all”. Bonne chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I recall a French company undercut and got the contract. I hope the Leavers are happy with their renewed navy passports as it means so bizarrely much to them! Thanks for the tip on photo retrieval; I’ll give it a go!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! I remember my French Navy passports. Long time ago. Do try the retrieve soon. If it’s Mac they can be retrieved for 20 days or so.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It worked, hooray! Thank you. Though think I’ll try to remember a camera next time..

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well, ma chère Libre, you made my day! 🙂 One can so easily get lost in computer arcanes… And often retrieval is easy… I’m very glad you did. My last PC fried on me once. (That’s when I decided to switch to Mac and haven’t regretted it). I had loads of stuff in that thing. I knew the hard drive was probably good, so I dismounted everything, took the hard drive out and bought an adapter, voilà, I had another external hard drive with all my data safe. Pfff. (I now do external back-ups once or twice a year…)
            Thanks for letting me know.


  3. So understand lol 😂🙀🙀

    I’m covered in *LIST* of tasks to accomplish… and its never-ending. But I keep them and re-write them… in hope to finish at least some 😜😜
    Cool share about that psychologist – Zeigarnik… never heard of him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Another trick, of course, is to add a couple of items you have already completed – purely for motivational purposes! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe. Hm…I never thought about it before. I love to make lists/tasks/notes & then destroy them…tear them apart, to pieces 😂 – when I’m done with it/task/🕺🕺🕺


  4. and try to do your best… do NOT stress: lists never ends 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Where is it from? The bridge and pylons remind me of Sydney. But what should be the Opera house looks off to me…

    Ah, lists. Interesting research and philosophy. I have to say that I mostly agree. However, I am getting better at forgetting the useless stuff I do not do. I’ll do them next weekend. Right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s Newcastle, a city in north-east England not known for its beauty, but it is handsome, known for its multiple bridges across the Tyne, and its culture – and adjacent to the wonderful Northumberland countryside. I hope more visitors to England become encouraged to think beyond London.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your photo reminds me of one particular shot from Michael Caine’s ‘Get Carter’, the depiction of 197o’s Newcastle has never been bettered.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. (Boris Johnson never did ‘end his days’ in a ditch…….. unfortunately!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup, and there was all of us saying ‘we’d rather you were lying in a ditch, too’… Won’t be the last of his idiotic pronouncements – not that that’ll necessarily stop him!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes, that’s it! Why didn’t the Get Carter theme play in my head as we came in on the High Level Bridge – perhaps because we’d had a nightmare journey on TransPennine Rail and steam was coming out my ears. But never mind, great city – and a brilliant film!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The greatest British gangster movie ever made.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post! I love lists but usually forget to do one. In fact, when I finish completing this reply I am going to write one out for today! I hope you’ve done your passport application now?!


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