I’m not naturally a list writing person, but experience has shown me the value of writing down tasks that need to be completed.

Whether you use a diary or a note pad at your desk doesn’t really matter, I would encourage everyone to use lists if they want to increase their productivity and here are four reasons why:

It helps you to remember.  If you have a lot of different tasks to do, it’s easy for one or two things to slip from your mind and not get done.  The physical act of writing things down will make it more likely that your mind will remember what you need to do and of course having the list in front of you will give you a reminder in case you get distracted throughout the day.

It helps you to prioritise.  Sometimes it can be difficult to decide what task to take on first.  The act of writing down your jobs gives you the chance to prioritise these activities.

In the words of Goethe, “The things that matter most must never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.”

A helpful way to do this would be to write an A, B or C next to each task on your list:

  • An “A” task is a critical task that you must do as there are serious consequences for non-completion.  If you don’t finish these tasks, it will hamper your chances of success.  By completing these tasks as a top priority you will be one big step closer to achieving your long-term goals.
  • A “B” task is one that you should do, but there are less serious consequences for completion.  You want to complete these tasks, but never do so at the expense of the “A” tasks. 
  • A “C” task is a nice to do, but if it doesn’t happen there are no consequences.  If you end up with time in your day, by all means catch up with that friend for coffee, but if it comes at the expense of something that you must do or should do then you are seriously jeopardising your opportunity to get meaningful tasks done and be successful.

It keeps you accountable.  This point is certainly true for me.  When I have tasks written down at my desk, I sometimes feel as though they are crying out to get done.  I can see them out of the corner of my eye and I’m not happy until they’re done.

It’s fun to cross them off.  There is a sense of achievement in completing tasks on your list and then crossing them off.  If you manage to complete everything on your list, you can leave the office feeling as though you’ve been productive for the day.  This is a much better way to finish the day than wondering what you had forgotten to do.

So there you have it.  If you want to increase your productivity, start your day by ensuring that you have a written list of tasks that you need to complete.

p.s.  I would like to dedicate this post to my beautiful wife Karen.  She is the queen of lists and has taught me a lot about this important skill.

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