what marriage and your to-do list have in common

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I have this amazing friend I see very rarely, and I can tell you one story about him and you’ll basically know him, too.

We were talking about marriage one day years ago, and he said something like this: “Everybody looks at that statistic that about half of marriages end in divorce, and they feel like that’s just awful. I look at that statistic, and I think, ‘Well now, that means about half of marriages last for the long haul, and I think that’s pretty darn good!’ I love being married, but it’s not easy all the time.”

You know what else clocks in at about half?

The amount of your to-do list you accomplish in a week. Actually, in a good, productive week. If you’re like me, that is.

Just look at that list up there. It’s from a week when I have detailed calendaring in advance so I can get shit done. A week when I am under many deadlines and therefore highly motivated. A week when my daughter is on an intersession break and in camp more hours than she’s usually in school.

Still: 50%.

There was a time in my life when I would look at that half-done list at the end of the week and feel like crap. Now, I think that’s missing the point.

Yes, I could Cal Newport my schedule more than I already do, and I’d have a more realistic list. Yes, I could say no to more things, and my list would be shorter. Yes, there are things I carry around way too long on that list. And yes. I could outsource and delegate and prioritize and kill procrastination, and if you’ve read here for any length of time, you KNOW I am a person who is experimenting with all those things. All the time.

But also: Half of that list is still a whole lot of stuff that got done. There are some major successes represented by those crossmarks. Huge proposals completed, phone calls made that I’ve been putting off, tiny creative bits, nonprofit financial review tasks I dread every single year, small gestures for my family or friends.

If you ended up with a half-done list this week, too, I want to celebrate your 50%. “That’s pretty darn good.”