I don’t remember the last time I went a single day without someone mentioning the amount of work they have on their “to-do” list. I do find myself wondering how many people actually have a list versus how many have the list churning over and over in their minds.
Over the years I have read many-a-tip on how to increase productivity – there were digital solutions, desktop applications, electronic devices and more.
I’ve been in the troubling position of having lists rolling over in my mind when I’m trying to sleep – it’s unsettling and makes for a very cranky day after.
When it boiled down to it – I knew there were tasks I needed to get done every day. Most of the time I would list those tasks mentally and get on with the work. Inevitably, by lunch I would have forgotten what I was supposed to do and would find myself having accomplished very little because I’d get sidetracked so easily.
Then one day it occurred to me to try to organize, prioritize and create my list in an old school manner – to start doing a to-do list with good old pen and paper.
What I discovered was that I was actually getting more things done and in less time then I had been before.
To my the task of creating a to-do list even more beneficial – I have gone ‘green’ and started using a clipboard that was given to me as a review item on MomGadget years ago and use scrap printer paper.
These days I’ve found it impossible to work unless I have my clipboard and a pen next to me.
Here is the outline I use on my own list:
- At the end of each day I will sit down and list the tasks that need to be completed the next day.
- I list them in descending order of importance (so priorities go on top).I also list stuff that I am NOT supposed to do (e.g., check my email more than twice a day).
- As I move along the day I just cross the completed tasks and move on to the next ones.
- If I fail to complete a certain task I move it to next day’s list, on top.
This is probably the best single thing I have done to improve my productivity. If you are not doing it, give it a shot.
Christian Cawley says
I’ve long been an advocate of pen and paper task lists – digital tasks just don’t cut it for me. I can set out a list of targets in minutes and meet almost all of them in a single day using this approach.
Gayla Baer says
I’ve tried several digital methods but I always end up ignoring them. With paper and pen – at least it’s there and in my face more. I agree – takes minutes to define tasks and easy to follow along until they are complete.