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It happens to me every time I plan to travel somewhere for a week or more.

A few weeks before my anticipated departure date, some loose screw in my head compels me to create a list of all the things I should do before I leave. While many of the items on these lists are at least somewhat relevant to the planned travel, many are just general to-do items that I’ve already successfully put off for years.

As the travel date approaches, I look at the list and start stressing over things that really aren’t all that important or time-sensitive. And that’s when the bargaining begins.

Over the past few days, I’ve been going through the list and crossing off items that just don’t matter right now. Here’s a great example: Tax returns. I wait to file my tax returns until the second week of April every other year, so why should it be any different this year? It’s gone.

This pattern — making to-do lists and then negotiating with myself to remove items from them — has become such a common part of my travel planning that I even have a special way of crossing off items that won’t get done. Instead of drawing a straight line through them, I draw a zigzagged line, as if to draw attention to my shame.

As I’ve gotten older, though, the bargaining has both intensified and started earlier. The truth is, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The alternative — spending my last few days at home, making myself a nervous wreck about stuff that doesn’t need to get done — is a lot worse.

Even better still would be to make my lists more focused on the upcoming travels. I’m not there yet.