These Waitress Pads Are the World’s Best Way to Get Things Done

It turns out that a check pad is perfectly suited to corralling work.

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There’s nothing so satisfying as checking off one of those boxes.

Living on the Upper West Side for years, I developed a weekly habit of waltzing up and down the back stairs, helping myself to tabloids, glossy eight-pound women’s magazines, and the occasional literary quarterly from my neighbors’ recycling bins. Sitting atop Therapist Monthly was where I found a pile of unused check pads.

I hadn’t played restaurant since I was 10 and didn’t have a job at one, either; still, I took the check pads, certain I could find some use for them. One blank receipt became a bookmark, while another bore a message to a friend who’d just sent a postcard. Then I started using them for lists, but instead of salad and sandwich requests, I wrote out my to-dos.

It turns out that a check pad is perfectly suited to corralling work. Each sheet is long enough for a reasonable number of tasks, but not so big you feel like a slacker for not filling the page. Not only are there copious boxes hungering for a check mark, but the perforated edge of each sheet offers a satisfying rip at the end of the day.

Every so often, I’ll try out some to-do app and forget about my check pads entirely. But they always find their way back to my desk. A few weeks ago, I was struggling with a to-do list that never seemed close to done. Erasing a task isn’t the same as crossing it out; tapping “check” can’t compete with hand-drawing one. So, I fished a waitress pad out of the back of a drawer. It helped. When it’s humid and I’m feeling sluggish, a little extra push is essential for helping me accomplish tasks. The days grew longer and my to-do list somehow got shorter, giving new meaning to the phrase, “Check, please.”

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