To do, or not to do

Posted by on August 14, 2016 in Blog, Living today | 4 comments



In my view there’s nothing like a good list. The feeling of satisfaction as we cross the items off, whether it is in the supermarket, on our desk at work, or at home, and a broad smile spreads across our faces. Job done.

Except that, as we know, somehow the job is never completely done; things have repercussions and just don’t go away, however much we wish they would. A classic example of this is cleaning the house. It looks marvellous for a short period of time following my blitz, but sadly the shine and lustre don’t last, and it all has to be done again.

People of course vary greatly as to how they tackle the tasks facing them. Not everyone likes lists, but in my view they do at least focus the mind on the sheer quantity of things that need to get done, and somehow prioritising them helps maintain the illusion that things are moving on, as long as you don’t list absolutely everything, for example: wash hair.

Lists are as old at the hills; it has been pointed out that The Ten Commandments are actually a list in themselves, and the instructions contained are the core of Judaeo-Christian ethics. Umberto Eco wrote a book that is composed entirely of lists called The Infinity of Lists. A more modern version is the listicle, i.e. an article, usually on the internet, consisting primarily of a list, which has not required much effort to produce. Rest assured, gentle reader, that the Dames will never resort to such base tactics.

Lists crop up in culture too; how could anyone forget Julie Andrews singing My Favourite Things in The Sound of Music ? If you haven’t heard it for a while, listen in here:

And for fans of light opera, they need look no further than Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado with the wonderful I’ve got a Little List, sung by the Lord High Executioner, the lyrics of which are regularly updated to suit the current social and political climate.  There is a rather good version at:

And on the more general topic of dealing with things, which lists are supposed to help with, I also seem to be in the dwindling group of people who actually open the letters addressed to me when they arrive, chuck away the envelopes (well, recycle anyway) and either file the contents or place in a pile to be dealt with/responded to depending on their subject matter.  Many people don’t actually even bother to open their post, but I have a friend whose behaviour in this respect is even more puzzling. She dutifully opens the letters when they arrive, then carefully puts them back in the envelopes. Just what kind of madness is this? Surely one of the items on her to do list should be: take letters out of envelopes and deal with them.

To list or not to list, that is the question. Must go now, there are lots of things on my list requiring immediate attention..






  1. Aaaagh, I live by lists. I need them, can’t function without them. I hate them…They’re good in poems too.

    • I have just the same highly ambivalent relationship with them!

  2. And what about different notebooks for different lists? I have one for shopping lists, one for to-do lists and one food diary…must confess to a really neurotic habit – if I do something which isn’t on the list, I write it down and tick it off – well, I’ve done it, innit?

    • Love it!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.