The Brilliant Spot in the Kitchen Where My Mom Keeps Her To-Do List

published Jun 29, 2022
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I like to think I’m pretty organized. I’ve been this way since I was a kid, and I have one person in particular to thank for it: my mom.

She’s been setting the example for running an organized household since I was in diapers. I remember the giant paper calendar she hung in our kitchen, with each member of the family’s obligations and appointments highlighted in a different color. I also remember spending rainy Saturdays organizing our board game closet together — an activity I enjoyed (!) — and marveling at how she thought to stack the games vertically, like books on a bookshelf, rather than in sloppy piles.

Long story short: My mum is an organization queen, and I am a humble member of her court. When I was visiting her a few weeks ago, I discovered yet another one of her organizational strokes of genius. It has to do with her to-do list — typically a piece of scrap paper with her scribbles on it. Before, when I’d see her little notes, I’d wonder how they didn’t get lost. But now I know it comes down to the very convenient place where she keeps them.

This brilliant spot where my mom keeps her to-do list? It’s on top of the coffee maker.

Credit: Sylvie Li

She places her loose piece of paper right on the lid of our trusty Black & Decker model: the thing that she and my dad march toward every morning after waking up. It’s in a highly visible spot on the counter, so even if someone’s in the mood for tea, the to-do list still makes itself known.

Is it stressful to have a to-do list be one of the first things you glance at in the morning? Not for my mom. It’s just a gentle reminder of the day’s tasks, or the things my dad needs to pick up at the store on his way home. Sure, it moves from the top of the coffee maker throughout the day, but at night, it always returns to its home, ready to greet her when the sunshine does.

I’ve taken to leaving a Post-It of my own on top of my Mr. Coffee. It reminds me to take the recycling out, put hamburger buns on the grocery list, and find my missing SPF 30 chapstick before I head to the beach.

My mom’s taught me a lot, but it’s this unspoken habit that’s got me optimizing my mornings lately. Maybe it’s just the thing to help you take your recycling out, too.