I have a to-do list that I update/renew every Monday. That means I take a new sheet of paper and transcribe all the items from last week's list that are still undone onto this week's list and add on the new items to be done this week. This is a beautiful ritual that i love to follow. Mostly the last week's list should have several scratched out items, and seeing these well-obliterated jobs gives me a great sense of achievement. The new week's list usually starts out sparse, but is soon teeming with things that need my attention.
I love my to-do list. I am extremely attached to it. It travels with me when I leave the house, so I can regularly glance at it and keep re-assuring myself that jobs are being done and hence struck off the list. Besides it also has my shopping list on it, so i usually refer to it while i am out shopping. When i return home, the list comes out of my bag and gets stashed on my bed-side table. But not before I painstakingly strike through the hearts of the jobs i have accomplished on that particular outing. When i shift venues to my desk, the list accompnies me and sits next to my computer, waiting to be referred to. So much so, that the list has to be the last thing i look at before i go to bed and usually the first thing in the morning, too. If the list is ever lost, there is pandemonium. I don't normally shout and scream about it anymore, but i do have a sinking feeling of loss if the list is misplaced or lost. Neither do i enjoy others looking at my list and, God forbid, ridiculing it. The children may look at it and go, 'Sausages? Call for fish delivery?, Call mango-wallah?, Plumber repair?, order gas?, write blog? Really mom? You write all that stuff down before you do it?' And they will snigger their way back to their rooms. Never mind - let them find out for themselves one day. When their memories are failing, and small things are forgotten, they will remember the joys of list-making.
However, though i tout the joys and virtues of it, the to-do list can be a bit of a handicap at times. For eg. what's not on the list never gets done. Also, the act of putting it on the list sometimes acts as a placebo for doing it instead. The to-do list becomes a perfect aide to a procrastinator - namely me! In fact, it was probably invented by one. Made in the name of aiding one's memory, what it actually aides is one's laziness and inability to take action. Well, having said all that, i now wonder what I should do about this habit of mine?
In a flash of inspiration I had a few ideas:
 Firstly, make your list on loose paper, not in a diary or book. Its a great feeling to destroy the list - even a half finished one, and begin a new one on a fresh sheet. It provides the benefits of 'new-beginnings' and hence more verve and initiative.
 Multi-task - learn something from your kids ;-)! Reply minor emails while you watch TV. Things will get done at least, even if not ideally.
 Never put down important things on the list, for fear of them sitting there comfortably and not getting done. These may be the slightly awkward and unpleasant things, most of the time. For eg, don't write down 'Must write 500 words a day', instead just do it. And as my publishing coach, Daphne Gray Grant said, 'Swallow the frog first thing in the morning.' That means do the most difficult things early on in the day. Be it exercise, cooking, phone-calls, writing - whatever is tedious for you, do it first of all. Then the rest will seem easy. Corollary: most of the time, don't multi-task while doing these all-important tasks.
 If the list is too long to start with, make a smaller 'list for today' and do not rest until it is struck off. Make sure you shred the mini-list to bits as soon as you can in the day and bin it. This will release you from the drudgery of the list.
 Prioritize. Put A-class items in one column, B class in another (in terms of importance or tediousness) and C-class items should be the really mundane - phone calls, replying messages, shopping. C-class should be accomplished very early in the week. Do not let them linger or accumulate. For new C-class items will keep cropping up and taking the place of those already demised. Don't let this pile grow - it will grow anyway, whether you do them or not. This being the nature of C-class chores, accept it. Make sure you knock off some A and B class items each day. Cleaning that drawer, doing the taxes, writing your resume. Tackle at least one or more of these. They are daunting so they risk never being tackled...and will re-appear on the next week's list, every week.
 Reward. For me the best thing to do in a day is to remain lost in my book - reading. I could do this for weeks and months until moss began to grow over me. Instead, i try to stir myself, accomplish something on my list and then return to my book. Knowing there is a reward, makes me eager to finish the job at hand and go back to what I love. Always make sure the jobs are small and you can be rewarded sooner. If its a large job, do half of it or a quarter and then keep going back to it after suitable 'reward' breaks. It really works!
Finally, for advanced practitioners of the art of to-do-ing, the goal is to-do-away with the list altogether! Do things as they come to you, striking them off before they even manifest. Spiritually, too, this is the preferred approach. It is the path of Karma Yoga - doing your duty and forgetting about it henceforth. There will be less clutter in your mind and your home and the calm that accompanies right action will help you rise spiritually. Besides you will not suffer from attachment to the list and the addiction to the joys/woes of accomplishing/not accomplishing the list. It will be a much more equanimous world with a restful mind. The mind will agitate less as you will keep doing things instead of thinking or worrying about them.
Well, the last is most definitely Utopia for me. Until I get there, let me put it down on my list,
'99. Must have no to-do list anymore.'