They are useful things - providing that you keep just one, all in one place - multiple lists are the best way to challenge your sanity. [Unless, of course, you count the Shopping List as a To-Do List, in which case I'd prefer to keep buy onions separate from phone mum or do invoicing.]
They are ways of indulging a certain amount of the anally retentive: if you put something on your List that you've already done, you have the satisfaction of Ticking It Immediately. [Come on, own up - haven't you ever done that?]
Being not only a sad List person, but also a Very Sad Computer Geek, I've been exploring the world of Computerised To-Do lists. Getting an iPhone made the obsession even worse, as there is always an App For That. I thought you might enjoy the three I've found: they are all vastly sensible, useful and usable, but will work for different people. All three have online accounts and synchronise with the iPhone (hooray!).
TeuxDeux: It couldn't be easier. A To-Do list where tasks are put either in a Day, or on the Someday list. If you click to strike it through, it stays on that day (so you can look back and see what you've achieved); if you don't, it automatically moves on to the next day. Drag and drop items between Days or the Someday list. That's it. Elegant, simple and beautiful.
Evernote: Huge capacity. Upload scans, photos from computer or phone, handwritten notes, screenshots, web pages, voice memos; the possibilities seem limitless. Geek heaven.
I have tried both these, and loved them for different reasons; but eventually, I decided that neither of them was for me.
I needed just a bit more flexibility to sort, filter and categorise than TeuxDeux offered; my tasks definitely come under separate headings, different priorities, different timescales, and the beautiful simplicity of TeuxDeux was being messed up by my attempts at coping with these requirements.
The geek in me adored Evernote, with the ability to capture just about anything, any media, any place, any time; but eventually I had to admit that I just don't need that capacity. My life can be complicated, but not that complicated. I am quite capable of finding distractions in the normal course of events, without trying to find things to upload just to make Evernote look pretty.
I was therefore hugely relieved to find the middle ground. (Spoken like a good Anglican.)
Toodledo: has much of the simplicity of TeuxDeux, but with the options to categorise, prioritise, date and star. It's nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing as TeuxDeux nor does it have the multimedia capacities of Evernote, but I love it.
I'm delighted to have pleased fellow Twitterer @jimdrew1968 with this recommendation: "Thank you @workingorder for recommending www.toodledo.com, I now feel in control again. Love ability to forward emails at it. Great tool."
Oh, and one more thing: anyone who loves to-do lists needs to read the wonderful, biographical book by the gorgeous Mike Gayle. And yes, it's called The To-Do List, and I recognise myself in there. Do you?