April 2015 - Chris McCombs
Chris McCombs

Archive Monthly Archives: April 2015

How to Cure To-Do List Panic


list-h600I rolled out of bed with panic running wild through my blood.

My to-do list stared me down like a crew of cranked-out, roided-up outlaw bikers about a half-second before they barrel down on me to flatten my skull for knocking over their choppers.

Deadlines for copywriting and ghostwriting clients loomed over me hard.

Emails anxiously laid in wait in my inbox, screaming to be opened, so urgent needs and pressing expectations could be attended to.

And I had to call both my tax lady and my attorney. God bless ‘em, but I’d rather eat shards of glass drenched in Ebola mucus than hop on the phone and discuss the issues at hand. Calls like that tend to send my blood pressure through the roof and throw my A.D.H.D. into overdrive.

RUN, my mind screamed at me. Race down the to-do list so you can get all this shit done before the sun goes down.

As I poured high-octane, black coffee down my gullet, I reminded myself…

1. Thank God I have clients willing to pay me good money to do what I love.

I make money writing marketing copy—how cool is that?

I’m also paid to ghostwrite crime stories about high-level gangsters. Stories that go out to hundreds of thousands and even millions of readers and entertain the heck out of ’em. I’ve wanted to write crime fiction since I first saw Death Wish when I was about five years old.

PLUS, I get to do it all from my home office, hanging out with dogs and an arsenal of southern rock jams.

And my two-year-old daughter Zoe is right downstairs and pops in from time to time to give me hugs and talk about princesses and fairies and show me pennies she found on the floor and ask me for a pen so she can draw on the walls.

This is a million times better than waking up and having to fight my way through traffic to that minimum wage job at the print shop, like I did 13 years ago. In fact…this is downright fucking awesome! It’s what I’ve always wanted.

2. Thank God I have emails flying my way.

My clients value my service, and communication is just part of business. Without communication, there would be no business. And hell, email beats chatting on the phone any day of the week—something my introverted nature rarely wants any part of.

3. Thank God I have taxes to pay.

That means I’m making money.

4. Hey, I can afford an attorney!

There was a time when I couldn’t, and that sure sucked.

5. And, remember Chris, you’re WAY more creative when you’re relaxed and not in a hurry to get 10,000 things done at once.

Your work is better and you typically get more accomplished when you just do your best, focus on one thing at time, and throw your fucking heart into it. So chill out, dude. One. Thing. At. A. Time.

6. Action Alleviates Anxiety

When you’re doing one thing at a time, moving forward, it eases the anxiety. Thinking about tasks is stressful. Doing them, one at time, in the zone, without worrying about the rest of the list, is both relaxing and rewarding.

Well, damn, doesn’t that shift in mindset—the gratitude, action, and present moment awareness—make all the difference in the world?

Hellyeah it does.

Looking at it this way feels sooo much better than freaking out just because my to-do list is the size of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

My to-do list is a reflection of all the awesome stuff I have going on in my life…

It’s a list of things I want to do. (Well, most of it I do.)

There was a time in my twenties when I didn’t have a to-do list. My entire days were spent hitting doctors’ offices and pharmacies so I could score opiods and benzos and keep the dark clouds of impending withdrawals at bay. I was miserable, broke, and defeated.

Today I’m sober and have a damn good life, living by the beach in Orange County, doing what I love.

Focus on that.

I have to admit, though, being relaxed is making me a little uncomfortable. Feels strange. Better dump some more coffee down my throat so I can ramp up the tension again. Tension has been running buddy for years and it just don’t feel right not having him around.

Maybe I’ll wait a few hours for the next cup. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll wait a few hours.

Talk soon,
Big Chris