As a kid, I remember my father at the dining room table in the morning jotting down his to-do list for the day on his mini legal pad as he sipped coffee and took in the busy goings on in our household. I remember his orange or brown or red Paper Mate felt tip pens scratching out instructions to himself in perfect architect block script. My father could make a grocery list look like a precise set of life specifications. But he made lists or, as he told me more than once, it was gone. During the day, he would scratch a line through his listed items as he ticked them off, making progress and relieving his memory.
I know other successful people and they all refer to lists. Some write them on their daily calendars, others on a note card, or bits of paper, or backs of envelopes; others maintain large lists on notepads. But lists they maintain and lists they work.
My life is driven by a bunch of to-do lists and a paper calendar; the calendar is a Hobonichi Planner, and the to-do lists live in a Field Notes notebook.