6 Reasons (not) to write a To Do list

On the Live Life Fabulously To Do list today - go for a brisk walk

I’m a big lists person. I make lists all the time. The sad thing is it doesn’t make me more organized, far from it it seems to have the opposite effect because I have lists scrawled on scraps of paper in my handbag, a list of things to do in my big desk diary, lists in various shorthand notebooks that I’ve just happened to have handy at the time, and now a list to end all lists on something called a Day Planner that I bought to satisfy my addiction for stationery. It’s available from Office Works and suggests 6 really helpful principles of time management. (You can buy the planner for $2.88 online at Office Works).

Create a daily list of tasks

  1. Give each task a priority A,B,C
  2. Ensure that you work on the “A” tasks first
  3. Handle each piece of paper on your desk only once
  4. Ensure that you make the best use of your time
  5. Don’t postpone anything – Do it now!

Well, I didn’t do any of that, although I did manage to fill two pages of that pristine, beautifully lined Day Planner that amounted to 32 tasks, of which I’ve accomplished 7. It’s now the end of the day and I’m gutted that I’ve managed to finish so few of my ‘to do’ jobs. What was I doing instead? Search me. I reckon I would have accomplished more and felt better about myself without those 32 jobs squealing at me from the Day Planner.

I think I’m done with lists.

Because if you ask me lists have a lot to answer for.

  1. They make you feel guilty for not accomplishing everything you hoped to achieve.
  2. They especially make you feel guilty for putting off certain items which in reality you have no intention of ever doing because they are just Too Hard.
  3. They suck all the spontaneity from your day and deny any inspiration and exploration.
  4. They take a lot of time maintaining, which means you waste a lot of time crossing things out and re-writing others.
  5. Lists make your day feel like an obligation not an adventure in living Fabulously.
  6. A fresh list gives you the illusion that progress will be made, but in reality it sets you up for disappointment.

It’s true, I’ve written some strange things on lists in my time, but none so funny, weird, sad or intriguing as you might find at Grocery Lists   where there’s  a compilation of discarded, you got it … grocery lists – the comments are a hoot and It’s an amusing glimpse into strangers’ lives – a sort of random sneak preview of what to expect if you went round for dinner.

Roll Call

Thinking about that I’m picking out a random list of mine from the depths of an old handbag. In scrawly writing, let it be known at some time in my dark and distant past I needed to buy ….

Srpinkler (sic) – obviously for the lawn.

Black Pot – refer to the garden again, not a three legged cast iron African pot (had one for years)

Pole thingy for roller – WHAT? What was I doing?

Wire clamps and hooks – DOUBLE WHAT? Sounds gruesome. And I am no Mrs Fix-it .

Cockroach spray – Aha, there must have been a problem Houston.

Ant spray – As well?

Fruit – definitely a How to Live Fabulously after 40 requirement.




Milk Thistle tablets – probably to counteract the wine.

And finally,

Loo Paper – aha, obviously the victory roll

Paper vs technology

The way I see it writing lists on paper can be looked at, lost and scrapped. I quite like that, but I don’t like the mess in my handbag, which could safely become a breeding ground for mice. Recording stuff on paper means it’s transient information, and you can edit it on the run, but preferably not when you’re changing gear and applying lipstick in the rear view mirror. When you’re on the phone to someone boring you can doodle and draw all over your lists and make visual cues to remind you that some things are more important  than others and sometimes, if the thought of having to re-write the not-done bits of the list is so great, you might, just might achieve everything on it.

As I’m a techno dinosaur, I still haven’t mastered writing a ‘To Do’ list on my computer, although I have installed and looked at fondly, an Editorial Calender plugin on WordPress. The trouble with a list on my computer is that I’m so busy surfing the net and searching (read wasting time) for other gems of distraction and information that I completely ignore technological prompts, and unless someone can devise an App that yells, “Get off the sodding internet and get writing and doing instead,” then I’ll probably never complete a To Do list whether it’s situated on my hard drive or not.

Oh crikey.  The day ahead wobbles before me.  Maybe I should get very serious with myself and write a definite To Do list today after all.

Have you?








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  1. gabrielle cheater says:

    just one thing about writing lists although you probably lose the list straight away or forget to take it with you, the mere fact of having written something down on paper gives you slightly more chance that you might remember some of it !

  2. Johanna

    That’s a great thought. I agree. If the list is floating in the breeze somewhere, you can at least try to remember what you wrote on it! If it wasn’t written down in the first place I have little chance!

  3. hilarious Jo – I can relate to this exactly! You should feel better after the conversation between the 4 of us at lunch – about their lists and their bits of paper – as I look at mine on my desk in front of me right now – and the filing boxes that are overflowing and need desperately sorting through and throwing out all those bits of paper and pamphlets…..I think it is just that we are “creative” people….so much going on in our heads, ideas ideas ideas etc!
    I have done absolutely nothing at home today – other than hang the washing on the line in the rain – and my husband will be home soon!
    I did find out though that my Flickr login problem is an international problem they are working on – thank goodness.
    And ps – it took about 6 secs to load you site – so all good!

  4. Johanna

    Yes, today showed me that I (and we) are not alone! Such a funny and revealing conversation! What a hoot. I’m sure we all feel a little more comforted in our disorganisation now. Glad your Flickr problem is sorted. Googling techno issues is always so time consuming. BUT thank you for checking mine, and I’m glad I seem to have sorted out the slow loading issue. I can live with 6 secs. For the record I installed Total Cache Plugin. Keep writing – look forward to seeing more in 2012.

  5. Jenny Buzer says:

    I read somewhere Where?)to just choose 3 things to put on “must do” list every day. They need not be the most important. 3 is a manageable number, and as you tick them off you feel good and often do extra ones. You even start picking trickier items by choice. Works for me!

  6. Johanna

    Thanks Jenny! I’m going to try this trick. Could be a solution to my ineptitude.

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