I used to write to do lists since I was just a kid. I wrote to do lists for fun, for studying and even for things that I want to do in the future.
I wasn’t aware of the power of to do lists in this very young age, and I took it for granted, because it was just what mom taught me to do.
However, when life became busy and very distracting as I grew up, I lost the habit for a while. And as a consequence I lost the momentum, and the spirit of being successful.
I adopted a new bad habit of becoming reactive, waiting for tasks to come. I kept handling issues as a fire fighter instead of planning ahead.
Until I realized that I am not moving forward, and that I am only following others, and doing only what everyone wants me to do. At work, or in my personal life.
So, I grabbed a pen and a paper. And started thinking, what do I really want to do in my life. It wasn’t easy, but my brain started to work again as an old car engine working after a decade of being idle.
I started writing my goals, then the tasks that I should do to reach those goals.
The main tasks branched into more sub tasks and so on. Until I figured out the path I should follow in my life. My own path, not what others wanted me to follow.
And since then it became a habit to write to do lists. You can call them action plans, reminders, notes for myself. But in the end they are just to do lists inside a bigger package.
I will list below the most useful tools that can help you write and actually do tasks in your to do lists.
Using Fridge Whiteboards to Write To Do Lists
At home, it is easy to get distracted, especially when you are married and have kids.
Everyday there are new needs to fulfill for everyone in your family. So what about your own needs.
What if you want a family member to do something for you, that should help you complete your own tasks, and you can’t find the right time to ask, because you are both so busy.
From my experience, a fridge whiteboard is the perfect tool for your own to do lists, as well as family communications.
Normally your fridge acts as the central hub, everyone will eventually go to or pass by. And it is difficult to write something on it and go unnoticed.
So, if you want to do some family or home tasks today or someday, just write them in a to do list on your fridge whiteboard. So you don’t forget them, when time comes to do them.
And, for example if you want your wife to prepare something for you before you finish your work. You can write it nicely on the fridge whiteboard. Because she will see it once she visits the fridge.
Draw a nice heart or something beside the task your wife is going to do. Don’t be bossy 🙂
What About Mobile Apps?
To do lists and reminders apps on your smart phone, are very essential these days to achieve your goals.
In today’s very distracted world, you can’t rely only on your own memory to keep track of all the tasks and appointments for the day, week or month.
So, there’s no doubt, that productivity apps should be used along with other tools discussed in this article.
Besides the built-in calendar, and alarm clock, I used many apps to help me be more productive using digital to do lists.
And I finally settled on using Evernote*, for all productivity related activities.
It is actually as they say, the digital memory on the internet.
You can store anything in it and set a reminder. From simple to do lists, text notes, or audio notes to clipping full web pages for your future reference.
The only drawback with the free plan, is that you can’t take your data offline. They are protected on the cloud. But you may have no access to them if you lose internet connectivity.
There are other apps out there that I tried, but I found Evernote the most comprehensive and simple to use at the same time
The Advantage of Hard Copy Journals
Although we are in the tech era, and smartphones are attached to our hands as permanent limps or extra fingers, hard Copy Journals and planners are still the most useful and powerful tools to focus on organizing your life, distraction-free.
Relying only on mobile apps, is not for people who seriously want to be more productive and reach their goals.
You can go now to your to-do app, and on your way, you can get hit with a social media notification. Then you will be lost in a sea of unrelated posts in the news feeds or useless funny videos, that don’t add anything to help you to reach your goals.
Even if you safely reach your mobile app for to do lists or note taking, you can’t really focus for a good amount of time on planning and writing “well thought of” to-do lists.
Will you turn notifications off? OK, maybe. But those are just mobile notifications. What about the voices in your head, asking you all the time to check your Facebook or Whatsapp messages for no reason?
What if technology messes up with you and you couldn’t get access to your plans and to do lists anymore. A hardware or software crash normally happens!
You may argue that, you can take backups or sync your data with the cloud. I agree. But what if you lost internet connectivity or you “deleted” your data and backups by mistake? And the argument can continue forever.
Words written by a pen on a paper are more permanent than digital forms.
If you really want to achieve anything in your personal life, you need to start writing to do lists now. Use a fridge whiteboard for shared family and home tasks. Use mobile apps to create reminders and some accessibility from different locations to your tasks.
And use hard copy planners and journals, to maintain true focus, productivity and availability of your plans and related tasks for as long as you want.
Please share your thoughts, comments or any questions in the comment below.
*By clicking Evernote links above, you get 1 free month of Evernote premium and I earn some points 🙂 Thanks to you.