To do list

At the end of August I started a new job. It is challenging, exciting and fabulous, but with that fabulous challenge has come a new level of crazy demands on my time and I have found myself inseparable from my trusty best friend: my ‘to do list’.

In those first few manic weeks I made list after list of things I was terrified I might otherwise forget. I wrote lists on my phone; I wrote lists in my diary; I wrote lists in my planner; and I wrote frantic, super important, MUST NOT FORGET lists on every available space on my hands. Pretty soon, someone showed me how to use sticky notes on my desktop and ‘hey presto’ I had another format for more and more lists that grew ever more complex and ever more detailed.

And what lists they were. There were some lists that had a specific focus – a home list, a work list, a special list for birthday planning (with the birthdays of both children looming on the horizon, this was a necessity), but quite quickly the lists began to merge and overlap as I wrote urgent things to do on whichever list was most readily available.  Soon, I had no idea what I was doing as it all depended on which list I chose to look at and suddenly, list making didn’t seem quite so helpful after all.

A screenshot of my most recent eclectic notes list which includes my long deferred plan to dye my hair and cover the grey, plus an embarrassing reminder to buy a birthday card for my daughter whose birthday is actually TODAY!! You might also see at the bottom of the list, an obscure command to ‘watch box of delights’: a childhood favourite that I was reminded about by the radio the other day and which has made its way onto my every more divergent to do list!


Finally I developed the makings of a system: one MASTER list containing all the things to do ‘at some point’ and then daily lists to be painstakingly reviewed, edited and rewritten every night. Yes, I may still have some mini lists on my phone and on those lovely looking computer sticky notes (oh and some real life sticky notes ironically stuck on to the monitor of the desktop for good measure), and yes, I might still write really urgent points like BUY MILK or DON’T FORGET OWN CHILD’S PARENTS’ EVENING on my hand, but overall my new system reigned in my list mania and eased my feelings of panic just enough to make me feel I had a handle on things.
Until yesterday morning…

.. because yesterday morning, I arrived in work to discover I had left the house WITHOUT MY LIST !! What would I do? How would I remember my tasks for the day? How would I even function without my trusty list book: the bedrock of my life and the scaffold to my days?!

Of course, as it turned out, most of my to do list was still in the place it had originated – my actual head. And I remembered most of the tasks I had intended to do (although I may have phoned my husband to find and check the list just in case there had been any omissions!) and my day continued much as it might have done otherwise, with no particular sense of foreboding or loss.

So what have I learnt? Can I live a listless life (as in a life without lists rather than a life through which I wander aimless and uninterested!)?

Well maybe one day I will shun the lists, but for the for the moment, no. I need those lists. They give me comfort and security and the false hope that one day I might actually get to the bottom and find that the ‘to do list’ is finally ‘to done’.  So here is my ultimate long-term list:

To Do: 

  • Finish list.

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