I’m big on to-do lists. And while my entire life revolves around technology, I like to write my to-do list by hand. (#OldSchool!)
I used to write my list in the morning, to start the day. Then, at some point in the evening, I’d go through it and cross off what I’d accomplished. I don’t think I ever crossed off more than 50% of my to-dos in a day, which didn’t seem particularly productive.
Recently I realized why I’d been stuck at that 50% ceiling: as the day goes on, new stuff always comes up that I need to take care of, stuff that wasn’t on my list. While I’m still getting things done throughout the day, it doesn’t feel that way since I’m constantly adding new things.
So I’ve turned my to-do list into an I Did It / Need To Do list instead. I still write down what I need to do every morning (well, most mornings), and then try to have the list handy throughout the day as a reminder. Now, when I sit down at night and cross things off, I also add tasks that I accomplished but that weren’t on the list. I used to feel like this was cheating, but it’s actually kind of awesome. I get to see everything I accomplished in a single day, and for a moment I feel like a superhero.
When I feel productive, I’m calmer, and when I’m calmer, I’m happier. So any little hack helps. If you have a fave productivity hack to share, I’d love to hear it!