to do lists


The Art of List-Making
by Christine Louise Hohlbaum
Diary of a Mother

“Put it on the list!” my mother always said whenever any one of us children would complain of a lack of this or that. Pretty soon we had an arm’s length list of groceries, clothing, and accessories. It is no wonder my mother had an interminable scroll of paper we could pull down as we added to the list of to-dos. I inherited her skill for list-making. I even occasionally remember to bring it along when shopping.

Lists are the backbone of my life. When people ask me "How do you do it all?", I hold up my most recent list of to-dos and say "This is how I do it." I show off my grocery list, my Monday list, my Tuesday list, and so on. Pretty soon, the inquirer scampers away with a look of fear and envy in her eyes. “That woman is crazy,” her body language suggests. I know better.

My need for list-making doesn’t stop at the store, however. I have library lists, honey-do lists, time management lists, and a list of things to pack whenever we have an impending trip. I have lists of Word documents to carry with me, things I want to purchase when arriving at my destination, and a list of presents for people I will gift when I get there.

A library list is merely the receipt from my previous library visit. It contains all the books I have checked out. To avoid paying overdue charges, I hang my library list on the wall and reference it when “library day” arrives.

I use honey-do lists for my husband when I am away. The list serves several purposes: first, it gives my husband a sense of direction when I am gone for the weekend. Second, he is reminded of the piled up to-dos he hasn't accomplished. That may sound patronizing, but it really isn’t. Imagine my delight in finding my daughter’s curtains hung after returning from a four-day trip. It had been 18 months since we planned to do it!

My very favorite list is my list of declaration. When you think about it, making a list really is that: a declaration of all you intend to accomplish. My list of declaration is also called my weekly map. I share this task with an author friend who taught me setting weekly goals can help you actually attain them. I have been amazed at the power of intention. Since I started achieving my goals after merely declaring them in my weekly map, I have been hooked on making this list, too.

Whenever I feel my weekly map is not enough, I reach for a piece of paper to declare what my overall goals are. I call it my brainstorming list. I recently put down a certain amount I wanted to earn each month. Within one week, I had secured a job which would pay at least that! The power of declaration is truly amazing! After all, that is what a list is: declaring your intention and creating the steps to fulfill it.

Christine Louise Hohlbaum, American author of Diary of a Mother: Parenting Stories and Other Stuff, has been published in hundreds of publications. When she isn’t writing, leading toddler playgroups or wiping up messes, she prefers to frolic in the Bavarian countryside near Munich where she lives with her husband and two children. Visit her Web site:

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to do lists


to do lists