Do you follow a to-do list?

I thought everyone did. And then one day, at the close of Quaker worship, I casually asked the circle if anyone in the room didn’t do such a checklist. I was surprised by the number of hands that went up, even if they were a distinct minority.

How do they get everything that needs to be done, done? It’s still a mystery to me. It’s like I need a map if I’m gonna get anywhere.

My wife and I have multiplicities of such lists. The problem is keeping them all straight. Sometimes, once we find where they’ve gone missing, just trying to read the handwriting is confounding, but even guessing still helps.

For years, I kept both seasonal and monthly lists, broken down into categories of Personal, Domestic, Creative, Quaker/Spiritual, and, at times, even Computer and Astro. I eventually kept a master file on my PC for easy updating and printed out pages as needed for a clipboard.

You know, reminders of auto tag renewal, driver’s license, income tax filing, ordering firewood (and the phone number), furnace and chimney cleaning, medical exam and dental cleanups, birthdays and anniversaries, Yearly Meeting sessions, drafting our local Meeting’s State of Society report, and so on.

To that I added goals like weekend escapes, writing and publishing agendas, gardening chores, home improvements, even exercise, which never did actually happen. Reviewing these can be embarrassing.

Yes, we can regiment ourselves or else try to go with the flow, even if that means trying to put out endless fires we hadn’t planned on. The frustrating part is all the stuff that never got done – or as I’m seeing in my review, did so only years later. Others remain unfulfilled dreams or promises.

The more practical solution has been my keeping of weekly planning calendars, though a master list would still help in inserting some of the tasks. This year, I’ve gone with a smaller book – make of that what you will. I do miss the big artwork, though.

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