Do you have one of these, too? I heard this term once from a colleague and forthwith adopted it. The Shame Pile is for those items that are too far gone even for the to-do list. They're the ones that make you wince when you wake up at night, or when you're trapped (when driving, for example) and can't do anything about whatever it is you left undone. To get something off the Shame Pile made yesterday a red-letter day.
Oh, and when students ask the question "What do I have to do to get an A in this class?" they don't always want to hear "Here are the criteria for an excellent essay, one of which is an interesting, well-argued analysis of a work." If a student is not getting an A in the class, which is often when this question gets asked, no amount of explanation, whether written on a syllabus or delivered in person, will suffice unless it comes attached to an A as a final grade.