Checking Too Many Boxes: Finding Balance with the Checklist of Life
Posted on June 20, 2023 by Aywren
I absolutely love checklists and use them all the time. They keep me organized, and if I didn’t have my Habitica, I’d likely to forget to do some of the daily things that are important to me.
Despite this, however, I’ve begun to think there’s such a thing as TOO MUCH checklist. In coming across this thought, I really believe that too much routine is a big part of the issue I’ve been having with finding the delight in day-to-day things, including my gaming.
I use my checklist to keep up with everything... from the simple things – such as who in FFXIV needs to gather materials for crafting today – to a list of things I’d like to do – such as reminders of blog post ideas. Really, whenever I have a bit of downtime, I find myself going to my list to see if there’s anything I need to check off.
This isn’t a bad thing, per say. Until I realized that the things I do in my free time are things I’ve tossed on the checklist. Even gaming has become a check the box thing. Make sure I play a Game Pass game! I need to play my Switch more! Shame on me for not diving into my Steam backlog!
On one hand, I like the feeling of checking the box. I’ve gotten something done! I’ve made some sort of progress!
On the other hand, it makes everything feel rote. Even things that should be just for fun.
I realized this completely by accident when I ran across an unexpected quest in FFXIV on Amon’s Island Sanctuary last week. I’d not though that we’d have any quests until the island was rank 16, and his was only rank 15.
I almost ignored the quest because I had other things on my list that needed to be done. Knowing the nature of island sanctuary quests, however, I figured it would be short and sweet like the ones in the past. Only, that didn’t happen.
Instead, it was a pretty solid 10-15 min quest that came out of the blue… and I found myself LOVING every second of it. There was nothing amazing or earth-shattering about this quest. It was just a cozy visit from NPC friends on the island, followed up by a gift of some nice glamour that I appreciated.
However, it’s one of the few times lately that I just sat back, let the game take me along, not worrying about where it might lead and if it was checking a box. The feeling of delight that came from that shook me and got me on to thinking about…
WHY did I enjoy this silly little quest so much? WHY don’t I feel this way more often about the things I do?
It came to me that I’m so focused on goals and numbers and boxes that I’ve lost track of the delight. Now that I’m more aware of this, I’m trying to figure out how do I balance all of this!
I still need my checklists – there’s things that I’d completely forget to do if I didn’t have them on my daily list. However, I’ve been removing items from the daily list - such as “Play a non FFXIV game.” I’ve been pressuring myself into doing that this past month and guilting myself when I don’t. Shouldn’t I just decide to play a non-FFXIV game and have fun doing it when I want – not because it’s on a checklist?
At the same time, how do I approach my game library with joy rather than with guilt at seeing how large the backlog has become? I feel like if I were to change that perception, it would be more fun and less stress – I might even play MORE and accomplish MORE with a different mindset.
Even obtaining new games induce guilt because I remind myself that I haven’t played most of the games I’ve picked up this year – which goes against my goals. Again, checking the box.
I also think I need to take a look at what is taking up all of my free time and decide whether I can shift some things around. Right now, I’m just getting back into short practice for both uke and fiddle, which is something I want to make time for each day. I’m also working on daily PVP to earn a mount in FFXIV – this takes up a hefty 40 mins or so every day, but will pass once I’m done with the season. Things like that.
Anyhow, I don’t mean for this to turn into a ramble. If you have any suggestions on how you balance organization with whimsy and fun, please let me know!