For Sale: John Lennon’s To-Do List

Gotta Have It Rock and Roll

***UPDATE: After 19 bidders battled it out — someone went home with this piece of history for $16,696!***

Have an extra $3,000 sitting around? That’s the starting bid for a very special piece of paper. John Lennon’s to-do list is being auctioned off by Gotta Have Rock and Roll and it’s expected to sell for upwards of $5,000.

I’ve always loved The Beatles, their music and their history so I was especially excited when I saw this list. Here’s a fun fact: I was actually named after Paul McCartney!  Funny, right?  Yep — my mom totally had Beatlemania and my dad indulged her lifelong crush when it came to naming me.

Lennon’s list was said to be made for his personal valet, Fred Seaman. So it makes sense that some of the items read like directions:

H.B.O. guy coming between 3-5. BE THERE. (the other guy didn’t know what was wrong.)

Photos in Books (do it while you wait for H.B.O.)

Hook on door in our bathroom falling off

Other items include books Lennon had on his must-read list like Thor Heyerdahl’s book, Susanne Patch’s book about the Hope Diamond, and Margaret Trudeau’s memoir. I probably won’t read any of them — but it’s amazing to see what Lennon was interested in. The list goes on with other to-dos, questions and directions.

For Beatles lovers, Lennon’s to-do list is a rare peek into the legend’s day. But for list lovers — it’s a case study in list-making technique. When in my life would I get to critique a music god?! So I’m taking liberties because even this rock and roll icon could use a little to-do list tutoring.

“The Good”

1. Great Details: This list was meant for someone else to read and tick off the items so that’s probably why Lennon went into such great detail with his notes. He gave deadlines, dates and times. This is a good lesson for all of us. Making specific goals and a plan of action will help you to achieve them easier. Don’t be vague when it comes to your to-dos.

2. Use of Colors & Symbols: Lennon used black and red pen to mark up this list.  He also used stars to make your eyes jump to more information about a particular item. I always say the more colors and symbols you can use the better. They should help to guide you through your list.  If they distract you then don’t use them but I think it’s a great way to call attention to and prioritize important items.

3. Use of Paper: I think 8.5 x 11.25 yellow lined paper was a good choice. 🙂 It gave him a lot of room to write and rewrite, cross out and star items. I’ve been known to write little lists on Post-its and receipts but it’s always much healthier list making when you do it on a larger piece of paper. It gives you more space to be creative.

“The Bad”

1. Disorganized Items: His list is a little bit all over the place.  The cable instructions are in two different spots on the list — this should almost be it’s own list because there is so much to it.  Like items should go together — so the books (# 2,6,7) should appear in the same section of the list.  Keeping your list organized will make it easier to move from task to task.  You won’t be wasting time looking through your list for your next related item.

2.  Messy Handwriting: Ok, I’m not the neatest writer but my handwriting is pretty good. Lennon’s is borderline illegible.  Of course if this list was for him or someone close to him — they could read it. But I suggest typing out your list or rewriting it if it gets too messy.  Your to-do list is supposed to be a road map to get from point A to point B.  It shouldn’t make you more stressed out because you have to first decipher it.

To-do lists are a very personal look inside someone’s life. This to-do list is from May 22, 1980 — just about seven months before Lennon’s death. I’m interested to see just how much it sells for and who the lucky list-lover that takes it home will be.


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  1. […] Edison to the long list of famous and successful list-makers like John Lennon, Johnny Cash and Ronald Reagan.  They’ve proved that keeping to-do lists will make you […]

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