For me, that kind of anxiety about incoming work started in high school (what can I say — I was a high-stress student) and got worse in college.
I used to keep a day planner and I would write down absolutely everything I could think of that I needed to get done that day or week. I told myself I was being responsible, but there was really no reason for me to write down some of the things that I did. Sometimes I would even write down things that I had already done that day, just so I could cross them off. I definitely experienced the mental reward you mentioned, and sometimes I felt like that was the sole reward for finishing my work.
It’s really sad, actually. I probably could have learned so many more things or enjoyed high school and college so much more if I would have tried to enjoy the good and bad in each day, rather than rushing from project to project.
Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts here. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who’s fallen into the task list cycle.