Over the course of years of personal productivity experiments, I've tried so many different phone applications, web applications and various strategies to try to increase the effectiveness of the humble but essential ToDo list.
Time and time again I always come back to using paper. I recommend you run your own experiments and use what's most comfortable for you, but I like using paper most.
Specifically I consistently use a bullet journal method that separates:
- my top 3 focus projects for the week,
- a continually growing list of small subtasks for these projects that get crossed off within a day or two of writing them,
- a separate page for recurring chores and errands
- daily logs of productivity.
- ideas of related steps or possibilities that may or may not get carried forward
If you want to optimize your personal ToDo lists, it's worth taking a look at how they fit into your life. What's working? What's not working?
Take a look at your relationship with your todo list.
Some people hate ToDo lists, and I think that's largely a function of a discrepancy between what they want them to do, and what they are actually doing in their life. This builds emotional expectations that can lead to self-judgement when they are inevitably derailed.
For our examples, here's some possible solutions:
The nice things about paper todo lists
As an environmentalist, I tried time and time again not to use paper to be more conservation minded. Digital alternatives have the advantage that you can have them with you in your phone at all times. But we all know that the phone has so many other things that are crying for your attention, that a separate paper list sitting next to you can more easily signal that you're in "getting things done mode" which allows for less distraction.
Here's my top three for why I like paper.
If you also prefer paper ToDo lists and have something that you like that wasn't mentioned here, I'd love to hear more about your tricks and tips in the comments.
Aaron Ball. Recovered Academic. Grieving Environmentalist. Evidence-Based Transformational Coach. Electronic musician. Transrationalist.