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Maxed Out

Why men don’t make ‘to do’ lists

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By G.D. Maxwell

Summer, especially the height of summer, is a particularly difficult time of year to focus your mind to any one task at hand. Naturally, this soft focus is exacerbated if you’re male, males having difficulty at the best of times focusing on only one thing. Or is that any one thing? I don’t claim to understand the phenomenon; I only comment on its existence.

I also don’t claim Male Pattern Distraction to be an affliction ravaging every single male in the world. There may be one, maybe two for whom distractions arising from a less than laser-like focus are not the norm. But I think that’s what they mean when they say the exception proves the rule. If you’re male and don’t suffer from MPD, my apologies. Now let your mind dwell on how abnormal you are while you try to get back to what you claim you were focusing on before you distracted yourself reading this piffle.

Having been laid low most of my life by MPD, I suffer through the height of summer by setting suitably modest expectations for each and every day. My coping mechanism is to distract myself every time I notice today’s To Do list getting longer than one or two items. It’s not that I’m lazy – well, okay, maybe I’m lazy – or get nothing at all accomplished. It’s just that I know most of the things I’ll wind up doing are unlikely to make the list if I ever got around to actually making it in the first place.

For example, just to make life more challenging at Smilin’ Dog Manor, I have what passes for a workshop. I call it DistractionLand. But if whatever I’m working on is much larger than a chair, I use half of the garage as a work space. The garage is maybe 80 metres from DistractionLand.

There is a variant of Murphy’s Law that states: Whenever you are working in more than one place, the tool you need at the moment is in the Other place.

Having mixed up a pot of epoxy to strengthen something or other I was working on in the garage – something not on the To Do list – I wound up with leftover epoxy, enough to do some other task for which half an ounce of epoxy is just the perfect amount. I remembered a broom with an infuriating handle that couldn’t be tightened because its hole had been stripped. Perfect.

Except I was sure it was in DistractionLand, it being the broom that belongs there. I figured the slow setting epoxy would remain liquid for another 10 minutes or so and set off to find the broom. Steps from the garage, I noticed a thuggish crow doing its cagey crow best to talk an otherwise peaceful sparrow into sneaking through a gap in the mesh around Strawberry Fields Forever and stealing some fruit. I readjusted the net, found a misshapen stone and threw it at the crow.

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