Inevitably when I stop and troubleshoot why I'm not getting things on my to-do list done, I realize that I've got too much on it. And inevitably, I immediately feel like there isn't anything that can be taken off of it. It all needs to get done.
After oodles and oodles of rearrangements, check-ins, and removals, the real culprit seems to be taking on new commitments. I have simply not made peace with the idea that time is finite, and can not let go of the idea that "Hey, I could get that done in __ amount of time." Sure, I could do that - if there weren't a million other things.
What then ends up happening is that I have a melt-down and spiral into anxiety over having not finished the things I need to. So then I start shedding to-do items and projects - which I end up feeling terrible for, even if it was just a personal project I was doing for fun. In reality, I shouldn't feel bad for giving up on doing something that I had no means to get done anyway, but...well, there we are. The human brain finds all kinds of unique ways to be anxious.
So this is not an "I have the solution!" post. This is just a recognition of something I already knew - that I'm not good at choosing what to take on. I keep trying new strategies and finding myself with the same old problem. I'll be spending a few days pruning my to-do items to a manageable amounts. And then the rest of the year, I will hopefully be committed to just the things I can manage, rather than a million unfinishable projects.
The important thing for me is to shift my focus away from the tail end, where all the projects spiral, and instead feel good about pruning and maintaining a reasonable amount of projects in the first place. Because then there isn't all the anxiety-inducing stuff (Except for feeling like I'm not getting enough done. That doesn't seem to be something I can get rid of.)