How to Conquer a Task

checklistSuccess! Triumph! Victory! While I may not actually shout these words every time I experience a sense of achievement, sometimes it is tempting. There is little that can compare to the feeling of accomplishment whenever a task is completed. It really does not even matter how big or small the task is. I just like to attack it with a blazing sword and leave it writhing in defeat as I victoriously disappear into the sunset.

I am incurably goal-oriented. For me, the greatest motivation to finish a task is the simple pleasure of crossing it off my list. The first thing I do when I sit down at my desk every Monday morning is take out a notecard and begin writing down the tasks I have to defeat before Sunday rolls around again.

Many of my chores are the same every week, so I am not necessarily afraid that I will forget to do something. I am, however, addicted to the euphoric feeling that washes over me when I take my pen and with great flourish triumphantly scribble a line through a completed task. I am even guilty of adding things to my list that I have already done just so I can mark them off. There’s just nothing quite like the satisfaction of coming to the end of a week and having physical proof of my productivity.

One reason that I keep a “to do” list is that I have found it easy to become bogged down with inessential activities. It keeps me focused as demands for my time increase and hours seem to become shorter.

When I was younger, people warned me that time speeds up as we age. That was unbelievable to me back in the days when summer vacation seemed to stretch out into oblivion. When I advanced into my twenties, however, I began to suspect that there might be some truth to what they were saying. Now that I am plodding through my forties, I have just about become convinced that the acceleration of time is a reality rather than a perception.

More and more I realize that I cannot just say that I’d like to do a certain activity “someday.” If time keeps up its current rate of acceleration, I’ll be sitting in a rocking chair taking inventory of my prescriptions before I know it.

Since time seems to be going by so quickly, maybe we should consider some important questions. Questions like this: what would I like to accomplish before my life comes to an end?

You may have some big aspirations. Maybe you want to jump out of an airplane (preferably with a parachute) or schedule a romantic holiday in Paris. You might have your eyes set on receiving a college degree or learning to scuba dive.

It could be that some more important goals comprise our dreams. Someday I’ll volunteer in my church. Someday I’ll repair the damaged relationship with my parents. Someday I’ll make things right with God.

It’s always someday, but someday seems to never come. Too many todays get in the way.

Solomon, who succeeded his father David as king of Israel, offered us excellent counsel. He advised that “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

I know it’s a morbid thought, but one worth considering. Someday our lives will come to an end, and the window of opportunity will close. That someday may be tomorrow. If it is, what will you wish you would have done today? Maybe it’s time to attack it with a vengeance and then proudly strike a victor’s pose over your conquered prey. Or just quietly scratch it off your list while reveling in the gratification of yet another personal accomplishment.


This article appeared in the Bremen Enquirer in my column Connections: Relating the Bible to Everyday Life on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

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