In my circle of acquaintances, I am the Queen of the To-Do List. I have a daily, weekly, and monthly list. Mostly, they serve me well. Occasionally they’re a big ball and chain, and I ignore them all for a week or more… until it’s clear that shit still needs to get done.

So when I come across an interesting take on the to-do list, I pay attention.

I’ve recently discovered that Ben Franklin was pretty hot on to-do lists. And I think Ben Franklin was, hands down, the ultimate creative generalist: inventor, journalist, diplomat, co-signer of the Declaration of Independence… C’mon. Just try and top that.

Had I been around Philadelphia circa 1776, I’d have found my way into his bed. Nope, not the best looking guy on the block, but there’s nothing sexier than creative talent made manifest. That’s the “It Factor” for me. Don’t believe me? Geek that I am, I actually had a poster of the man up on my bedroom wall as a young girl.

In fact, I’ve regularly had imaginary conversations with him all my life. These days, they usually happen in the car. They go something like this:

You have to tell me — did you guys intend for the Constitution to be a living or static document? Are the courts interpreting the second amendment the way you’d have envisioned it? I mean, how do you want us to feel about a “well regulated militia” with all those AK-47s and school shootings? 

I hate cars. They are a cursed invention. This speed is simply unnatural. Please stop and let me out.

But how do you feel about the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment? I mean I know you weren’t around for that one, but what do you think about the whole corporations-are-people, too shit?

Please stop the car. I’m going to be sick. I miss my horse and carriage.

Anyway, back to the list thing. This is apparently what Ben’s lists looked like. Note the left hand column.

Ben Franklin's To-Do list.
C’mon — that’s a pretty impressive way to think about it.

You know, if all we ever did in life was ask and answer those morning and evening questions, the world would probably be a much nicer place.

Okay, now let’s compare this list to one from none other than The Man in Black, Johnny Cash.

Johnny Cash To Do List
Look at all those nots in there!

An equally lovable list, ain’t it? I like number three a lot. Go, Johnny, go!

I read this and can’t help but think that somebody (June?) had just given him a good earful about how he needed to get his shit together.

The to-do list is a either a liberator or a master. My lists fall on a spectrum in between the two above. When I’m on my game, Ben would be impressed enough to give me a kiss. When I’m way out there in left field, as I have been for much of the past few months, my lists look a whole lot more like Johnny’s, and maybe he’d have wanted to give me a kiss, too.

I wrote a song about lists once, tongue firmly planted in cheek: