What are you doing? – Twitter

It’s Monday. You’ve got stuff to do.

Better make your To-Do list.

You make To-Do Lists, don’t you? Do they work for you? Do they give you a sense of accomplishment?


Well, you’re not alone.

Many people’s To-Do lists don’t help them at all. In fact, many people tell themselves that they’re just not capable of Getting Things Done.

Here’s my theory:

It’s not the people.

It’s the list!

Face it. Some lists just go bad. It starts with one hit, and just gets totally outta hand after that. An out of control To-Do list is just gonna bring you down.

Here are the three most common symptoms of To-Do lists under the influence…

1 – This is your To-Do list. This is your To-Do list on speed.

Some To-Do lists are all hopped up on Benzedrine. These are the ones that burn, burn, burn – desirous of everything at the same time.

Hey. Kerouac wrote On the Road in 20 days. So, you can sure get your stuff done in one, right?

Need more than one page for your To-Do’s? Got a color code system you don’t get anymore? Or do you just know you’re never getting all this crap done?


Well, then your list is poppin’ Bennies.

And here’s what this might look like:

To-Do List for Today

– Pick up dry cleaning
– Make doctor’s appointment
– Do laundry
– Write 75 thank you notes
– Call Aunt Jean re vacation
– Book vacation
– Get kitty litter
– Write project outline
– Plant bulbs
– Call plumber
– Send off 3 proposals
– Interview VA’s
– Take dog to groomer
– Clean house
– Buy birdseed
– Do yoga
– Answer emails
– Get groceries
– Get manicure
– Send out invitations
– Meditate
– Order books from amazon
– Learn google analytics
– Meet with realtor
– Call mom
– Book flight to Anaheim
– Listen to podcasts
– Mow the lawn
– Get oil changed
– Vote!
– Research outsourcing
– Write eBook
– Rotate tires
– Upload photos to Flickr

In fact, you don’t even have time to read this post. You gotta go gotta go gotta go and never stop going till you get there.

“Where we going, man?”

“I don’t know but we gotta go!”

2 – The Cheech and Chong To-Do list

Maybe your list isn’t into all that rapid fire motion, man. It doesn’t get it, man. Why not relax a little? Your list is gonna get there. Someday. It’s just a list, man.

There’s some things, yea. Priorities? Huh? No, man. Just things.

What things?

Well, like, uh…

Blog! I gotta figure out the blog thing! Yea, I hear some people are gettin’ rich on that sh**. So, that’s on there.

And I guess I gotta go through that in-box at some point. That’d be good to do.



Bills! Gotta pay the bills. Here’s the list…

– In-box
– Blog
– Bills
– Store
– Job

If your To-Do list has a thing for cheeba, most likely there’s not a lot of attention to detail, or how long something could take, or why it matters, or what comes first, or who even cares. It’s all just there. Sitting there. Waiting to be done. Getting the munchies. Dude.

3 – The Electric Kool-Aid Acid To-Do List

This is the list where nothing gets crossed out.

After all, why would you want to put a line through anything and ruin it like that? It’s all beautiful. Cross marks through words? That’s just, well, not beautiful. Big things are beautiful. Dreams are beautiful. Ideas are beautiful.

Why break it all down into small steps? I mean, the word “break” is just so not about peace and love! You can’t worry about how to proceed. You just gotta have a vision. Hey… You’re either on the bus…or off the bus.

This to-do list looks like this:

– Sell house
– Move to remote island
– Write novel

Great ideas. Big plans. Beautiful dreams. This is the list that eventually gets you to singing…” Woh-oh, what I want to know, where does the time go?”



Admitting that your list has a problem is the first step towards Getting Things Done.

Wanna know the other eleven?

Stay tuned!

  • kinoshi

    I appreciate the concern which is been rose. The things need to be sorted out because it is about the individual but it can be with everyone.
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  • Deb

    Oh, you must have seen some of my husband’s lists.

    Of course I used to subscribe to the “putting it on a list was as good as doing the task” clique.

    I still start out writing down everything but then I decide a few things I could not sleep well if I didn’t do that day. I’m an eye-minded type and I need to “see” things to process them. (It’s probably like your brain-drain list; just different.)

  • Nina

    oh, my list is TOTALLY on bennies. but it feels so dang good when i can do it all in one day. i’m the dean moriarty of lists – destined to burn out young.

  • Lisa

    I think I have a problem. I just found about 3 or 4 lists when I was sorting through OLD papers… who knows how old they were. I actually kept them because I thought I should check them over. I guess you ALL would suggest that… I throw them out?

    Another thought… can you actually get something done without a To-Do list? Yes, yes… I have To-Do-List-itis. Is there a cure?

    I’m anxiously awaiting more. Please help!

  • Petra

    This is funny. I don’t do lists as much as I used to, but I’ve never had a problem with them. To me, my daily “to do” lists were mostly suggestions of things I could be working on OR reminders of the “must finish” items (i.e. those with a deadline). I rarely cross everything off, because I don’t see the lists as “musts”. Plus, because it IS fun crossing things off, I always put a few things like “take a shower” or “eat healthy breakfast” on this list, because I’d do these things with or without a list!

  • Lily

    Haha, very funny – and that looks suspiciously like my ‘to do list’

    Mine often look like…
    Finish album
    Write new song set
    Write novel
    Move to Portugal
    Put washing out to dry


  • jeanne

    I was good at lists once – but then the family started teasing me unmercifullyabout them so I stopped. Foolish, they were probably only jealous. Now I’m relearning them after a nearly 20 year hiatus, so this blog is perfectly timed to get me going right.

    I have a friend – a long time pro at to-do lists- who gave me one lovely thing to remember. All those things that SHOULD have gone onto the list but you missed them? When you accomplish them go add them to the list so you can check them off. It adds a lovely feeling of accomplishment and encouragement to see more things crossed off the list!!!

  • Jannie Sue

    You are too funny! “Read Christine Kane’s blog,” will be near the top of my list from now on.

    The List, arrrg. It’s never really finished, is it? I figure if I get most of mine Monday items done by Friday, I’ve had a good week.

    Just a few for this week… clean fishtank, give Shih-tsu a bath and haircut (a home haircut, getting pretty passable at it,) fold 23 loads of laundry, buy large plastic bins to store winter clothes, work on song harmonies for Kalyani, finish 2 songs’ lyrics, perm bangs, dye roots….

    etc, etc, etc.

    Thanks for sharing! Jannie

  • nel

    I can definitely make list #1, and I can also pack for a trip (I’ve packed everything that I’ve put on a list, traveling is a great opportunity for listing) and still I can find it in me to pace as I wait for my ride. Now that I see myself doing this, I breathe, and pick up a dog to pet and relax – looking for just the present moment! Where is it? Where did I put that? aha!

  • Shama Hyder

    Very cute! Yes, my to-do list is often on steroids. My clients seem to like it that way. lol.

  • felix

    made me laugh out loud – good start to the day
    and you are so right about the well named twitter for twats..
    (have to admit signed up as a twit ages ago it some music pundit said you had to) – now i get the occasional email to say someones following me..??

  • J. Hawke

    Excellent article! Funny and insightful.

    I have two sorts of lists: school and home.

    The school list is always organized and prioritized, and I actually get done what needs to be done when it needs to be done.

    The home list has a serious case of frenzy. It’s actually pages of lists. I have running lists for each of the websites I maintain (for whenever I have time to fix what I want/need to fix), as well as a huge list of things I want/need to do aside from my designs.

    The “want/need” designation is telling, I think; I have a terrible time prioritizing at home for some reason. There always seems to be so much to do and never enough time to get it all done…I’ve always had this keep-your-options-open ideal…

  • Alice

    Hi Christine…I am in a post-menopausal stage with lists. If I don’t write down things I want to do (or need to do, such as pay bills), I completely space out, and suddenly I am paying late fees. So, at home I definitely need lists and have gotten more or less realistic about it. For example, there is just “the list” sitting in a place on my desk, but I don’t put any deadlines on it (unless there is one like “pay electric bill by the 10th). What bothers me, though, is that there is a big mix of stuff in the list from the mundane to the lovely and creative (“do laundry” and “work on poem” in the same list, in other words). I tend to give the mundane more priority, like I am getting rid of all the mundane stuff before I get to work on the creative stuff, but that really squeezes out my creative time. Maybe this is something you will address in future list blogging?

    My lists at the office are another story altogether. I will have a perfectly realistic list and then something completely unexpected will get dropped on me, and that will be the end of that. Where I work is quite chaotic and hard to plan for.

    Thanks for the great blog!

  • Mark


    I love the list where nothing gets crossed off.

    “Get in shape”
    “Make more money”
    “Meet girl of your dreams”

    If I weren’t laughing I’d be crying.

  • Michelle

    My to-do list has been getting less and less frequent lately and what I find is that I am forgetting things. My list used to be each day, every day, the to-do list on speed…somewhere, somehow I have to find a happy medium. I like pat k’s suggestions!

  • Wendi Kelly

    Oh my gosh,

    I just laughed so hard I gave myself a stomach-ache.
    I am a recovering Speed-lister.

    I used to make lists for my lists!

    Thanks for a funny look at myself!

  • Sue

    Thanks for making me laugh!! I am very #1 and my son is very cheech and chong-ish dude….can’t wait to see the rest!

  • Pat K.

    Oh yeah. Accepting that my life will be nothing but change makes me a bit more sane too. Making my list doesn’t mean it will all get done. It DOES mean I’ll feel less panicked about it and more in control and organized.

  • Pat K.

    I have modified my to do list in a way that finally makes sense to me. My idea for a happy life (which I discovered not too long ago) was to take baby steps. I use Google Docs and have a “template” document and copy that over to my “TO DO LIST” document. Each day looks like this:

    Monday AM
    * Set Intention for the Day.
    * Bring Goodwill items to town
    LUNCH: Dance Class
    Monday PM
    * Gratitude List
    * Tackle tax problem
    Each “item” can be just a small step in the process. Like the item that says “tackle tax problem” I’m not going to solve in one sitting. But If it take another bite out of that big problem, I feel better about making progress. Each week I think of the things I want to get done and sprinkle them throughout my weekly To Do List. Large items and small. The large items I just keep listing until, with many SANE baby steps. I’m done and happy about the pace.

  • Christine Kane

    annalisa – yes, i do think you can do all three of these things when you create any kind of action plan. i know i do!

    caren – glad to bring about the Dead memories! πŸ™‚

    thanks colin, melanie, irene and janice – and i think there IS something to accepting the chaos on a certain level. following your inner guidance can often look like chaos – but in the long run can make you more productive. (like when you let yourself have the afternoon to putter around somewhere, and you get so lost in the delight that you get back home to a renewed vision.)

    walter – why I hadn’t even considered that list! (my drug knowledge is limited mostly to literary descriptions and movies!)

  • Walter Hawn

    How ’bout the list on ‘ludes? Write it down, and your troubles are over. It’s on the list, right? Okay. It’s all written down and everything. No troubles. Here’s the couch…

  • Diane

    Well this made me glad I’m not a list maker. And you really mushave ESP Christine because just recently I thought maybe I would get more accomplished if I was a list maker! I’ve always been a bit bemused by people and their lists. You know the type that actually did something that wasn’t on the list so at the end of the day they go ahead and add it to the list just so they can cross it off! Now, if something is REALLY important I will put a sticky note on the door so I won’t forget. But, since it is REALLY important do I even need a reminder? Probably not but by writing the note I don’t have to take up space in my head thinking about it. Looking forward to this series…thanks.

  • Janice Cartier

    Love this post. I’m chuckling because of the timing. I used to go straight to #1. You’ll get caught up in the game of let’s put stuff on the list, just so I can check it off…crazy making.

    @ Colin-“Once you accept chaos, everything falls into place!
    (wait a minute…..?)”
    LOVE THIS !!!!! LOL-It is actually true..but I still make a map..with a mission…set my compass, and then let go the shore. Chaos, like wind, will toss the best of us around. πŸ™‚

  • Colin

    Once you accept chaos, everything falls into place!
    (wait a minute…..?)

  • Irene

    Good day!
    I just love it. To do list does not exist in my life. I cannot remember the last time I did one. Oh wait I remember it was 6 months ago. I did cross everything off even the one I did not do. I felt better at the end.:-) I am looking forward to your next post. With this type of frenzy it creates its own trip wonder if there is a drug that could help.:-) I laughed and sigh at the thought of another to-do list. My belief is chaos is more fun since I get loss in it then come back knowing I have done something without freaking out about it. A thought maybe there is a need for a blog for to-do list!!
    I am truly enjoying your post.

  • melanie

    colin, I am so with you! that is me too πŸ™‚

    can’t wait to hear more on this christine! great post.

  • Colin

    I’ve broken my to-do list down to four things:
    (1) Don’t write a list
    (2) Write a list and don’t pay any attention to it
    (3) Listen to Franz Lizst
    (4) Let Christine list it for me.

  • Caren

    What a great post. Since my to-do list lives in my head… even after I read another great post you wrote… it’s probably more like #3. Or, maybe I’m just choosing that one ’cause I like the Grateful Dead reference. (I do miss Jerry)

  • annalisa

    Hi Christine,
    Its very strange to come on line and find you channeling my brain waves (yet again!) Is it possible for one person to actually embody all three types? ’cause I think I do!
    The big unapproachable dreams look like #3 The years goals look like #2 and every day/week looks like #1 (yes I actually write yearly, monthly, weekly daily lists…I think I need some help) I’ve been noticing there are certain flaws in my system I’m very busy but I’m not really progressing in any clear direction. What is apparently needed is some firm sense of direction with defined steps and to cut myself a few breaks on the day to day stuff πŸ™‚

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks y’all! sonia – i have found my old to-do lists from several years ago (stuffed in the pages of songwriting notebooks) and laughed out loud at what I expected of myself! #1 is definitely the place i go, too!

  • cynthia

    Very funny – you hooked me in with your first few lines. I’m normally too busy to read all the posts I’ve subscribed to in bloglines cause I’m too busy worrying about my list for the day. πŸ˜€

  • Sonia

    This was just what I needed to see today – as I sat down to make yet another “To Do” list that looked suspiciously like List #1.

    Definitely awaiting more!

  • Pippa

    Well, I am definitely going to stay tuned! Really laughed at this post, especially #2 (man!)

    Just last week, in a desperate act to gain control of life, I decided that I make way too few lists, and that a little planning can go a long way. But we don’t want to go off the other end and get all OCD about it, do we?

    Write on, Christine!

  • Mags | Woo-Woo Wisdom

    Hilarious, Christine!

    Oh, the days when my to-do list was popping Bennies, got a speed wobble and tied my colon up in a knot… πŸ˜‰