Toad (in Frog and Toad Together) had a to-do list, and when it blew away, he suddenly became helpess, sat down and did nothing. I make to-do lists and lose them, too, and sometimes feel almost the same way.

How about you?

Did we ever need them in the first place? That, apparently, is the question.

When these video makers, interviewing highly successful people, asked them about their to-do list, their subjects laughed! Seems they don’t have them!


Well, then, how do they get things done so effectively?

Seems they use calendars. They almost invariably carry a notebook around with them and are often jotting things down—words, ideas, reminders, sketches, charts. But not to-do lists.

According to researchers, 41% of what goes on our to-do lists never gets done. Some astute folks call it “the graveyard of the important, but not urgent…” and a great waste of time!

My inner jury is still out on this—because I can be absent-minded and forgetful. I fear I’ll forget something important if I don’t have it listed somewhere—especially when I’m going into stress about having everything prepared for an event coming up or something like that. My mind can get very distracted and fragmented at such times. But maybe a lot of what I list isn’t actually important! I have to think about this further, but I suspect they might have some great wisdom for the rest of us here.

It may also be that they have much more balance to their lives than we squirrely, scurrying folks have. Maybe they know how to disregard the unimportant and not allow interruptions and distractions to throw them off whatever important focused course they’re on. Maybe our to-do lists are stop-gap measures that we use to keep track of all the “fires” we have to run around and catch up on and put out, and they don’t get themselves in many such situations because they maintain better boundaries and keep a steady, disciplined course all along.

I’m going to leave this one open for debate right now. Maybe I’ll be able to make a better judgment by the end of these 28 blog posts.

I might say, however, that I have begun to carry and use a helpful unlined notebook. Today I jotted down a few things: titles or ideas for future blog posts;  a Thomas Jefferson quote I saw on a piece of  Fraktur-like artwork on view in a library display case; another, longer quote from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, as I read it during the lunch out I treated myself to… But no, I didn’t jot down any to-do’s…

What do you think of the to-do list? Do you use one? How often and when? Would you like to be freed from it? (Methinks I would!) I’d love to read some comments on this.


For a set of links to all the other posts in this “Meandering Forward” series, go to this page, which will be updated daily as new posts appear in the blog content.

4 thoughts on “What to Do with your To-Do List (Might Surprise You)

  1. If I don’t write a to-do list before going on errands I inevitably forget something.
    Since I’ve lived in the same house for 15 years, I’ve developed a rhythm/schedule to house-keeping that I guess is in the back of my brain kind of like a calendar. I seem to follow it as if on autopilot, but vacations or even day trips can throw me off kilter.

  2. I need that list when I go out on errands, too, Katie! I even need my itinerary written down in order sometimes. But yes, in the daily and weekly at-home duties, a rhythm has developed. So I think we have to take all this kind of advice and apply as it fits, and alter or ignore it where it doesn’t work so well personally.
    Thanks for stopping to comment. So happy to see you here!

    1. Welcome, Sylvia:)
      Thank you for these posts.
      I’m always blessed by your words and collages.

      1. Oh, thank you for your kind encouragement, Katie. Your presence blesses me.
        And my you have a blessed–and refreshing–weekend!

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