Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 1, 2012

Garret Leiva: To-do lists have become a part of life

By Garret Leiva
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---- — Funny how people don't bother making to-don't lists.

There was a time when life didn't require to-do lists. Today, however, I could write a laundry list of reasons — including "get laundry soap." Unfortunately I've become a to-do lister.

In an age of "CrackBerry" and "i-Matter" phones that double as digital nose-wiping mothers, I'm still stuck on sticky notes. It's not technophobia, I just prefer old-school pen and paper reminders. Ironically, I often post them on my computer monitor.

Some might point out that sticky notes can curl up and blow off a desk or refrigerator. My long-term sticky note solution: Scotch tape. I also never suffer from sticky note 4G upgrade envy — and they even come in different colors.

On the square pad surface, to-do lists seem the epitome of organization. It's easy to write to-do's, however, and never follow up on the do part.

While my lists exhibit bad penmanship, they are full of good intentions. Of course, the road to hell is paved with well-meaning to-do lists. Unlike belated birthday cards with sad-face puppies, thought doesn't count here: To-do lists require one thing — doing.

There are three areas in my life overrun with to-do lists: child, work and grocery store shopping carts.

Children don't come with instructions, but I'd settle for a built-in sticky note dispenser. I often need a paper trail to guide me to doctor's appointments, piano lessons and a Gordian knot of school functions. I'll probably spend my daughter's college tuition savings on Post-it notes.

I've even had the occasional to-do dream. I'm driving a car loaded with kids to cross-country practice, talking on the cell phone, when I spill a cup of decaf on a dashboard covered with sticky notes. The scary part is that I don't even drink coffee.

Honestly, parenthood is really a big to-do list — one you never completely cross off or throw away.

Scattered about my work space are to-do reminders to call so-and-so, file such-and-such and attend to this-and-that. I typically follow a set to-do list protocol: big deal, big note; little deal, equal size sticky.

Call me a simpleton, or merely a guy, but I need grocery store to-do guidance. If you want a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes you best put it in writing, along with the aisle's longitude and latitude. If you shout said tomato request while I'm backing out the driveway without fail I'll bring back a jar of Goober Grape.

Like mittens on a string, the grocery store to-do list ensures that the artichoke hearts and I both come home.

Today you can download virtual Post-it notes. Another program lets users format text, change colors, resize and flip through computer screen sticky notes. Thanks, but I'll stick to my low-tech, virus-free to-do lists.

As for that to-don't list, it's still 25 years or the right lottery ticket away.