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My $1 secret to productivity

My $1 secret to productivity

Forget all of the fancy apps and websites: the vast majority of my productivity relies on a $1 yellow tablet.

Yellow tablet as cheap tool to productivity

It’s nothing too fancy. I always keep a yellow tablet on my desk (now that I’ve written this, I bet you’ll spot it in the background of so many Instagram Stories ha!), and every morning, I separate the page into four sections each with its own header. Those usually consist of: to do, to get, work and blog. I write everything down that needs to get done, and I cross things off as they get accomplished. Every morning, I start a new page–and transfer over the things that didn’t get crossed off the day before, and add other things. Below is my to-do list (so far!) for today. I know this isn’t rocket science, but I’ve had a few friends comment on the system so wanted to highlight the reasons why I think it works really well.

  • Since the paper is lined and each section ends up only having about 10 lines: I have to prioritize. Usually, I try to start with no more than five things in each category every morning–these are the top priorities, and then I can add things as I get tasks done.
  • Categories can switch up for the day too, depending on big priorities. Sometimes I’ll make a section of brands to reach out, clients to follow up with, ideas for blog posts, etc.
  • I use the top header section to remind me of my overarching goals for the day: usually to meditate and to hit 10K steps (see: 2018 resolutions). I sometimes note appointments or meeting times up there too in chronological order so that I have an idea of the pace of my day.
  • Because the yellow tablet is always out on my desk, I can pop in and out when I remember something that has to get done and jot it down. I do this a lot in those evening hours when I’m making dinner but also halfway thinking about a client I need to follow up with the next day.
  • Even though there can be overlap between categories, it’s helpful for my mind to separate between things that I need to actually do (like the laundry!) versus things I need to remember to buy (like laundry detergent!). I also like to have all of the things that need to get done when sitting in front of the computer (aka blog and work) in one spot, so that I can just fire up my laptop and get them done.
  • There’s something really satisfying about physically crossing something off your list. Honestly, I do not get the same rush of endorphins (that likely drive a lot of my productivity!) using any sort of app or website.
  • Before I go to bed, I usually sit down and transfer things that didn’t get done onto a new list to wake up to fresh in the morning. Because of this, I feel like I have a better idea of the tasks that I’ve been procrastinating on: if I keep writing the same thing over and over again, eventually I think: this has to be the first thing I get done tomorrow. And then it’s particularly satisfying to cross off the list!

To be honest, I grew up dreading the yellow tablet. This is a productivity hack that originated with my mother, and I grew up with lists of things to do and “guidelines” for my daily life. My mom sent me one she found recently (mostly likely from my high school era), and it included fun things like: no more than 20 minutes of telephone daily, use a bookmark, make your bed, empty the trashcan. She still uses them every day to make sure everything gets done in her business and home life! Now that I use one every day, I do kind of feel like the transformation is complete: I have become my mother.

Lastly, full confession: I don’t even usually spend $1 on these. I tend to swipe one or two from my mom’s supply whenever I visit home! I will also admit that my yellow tablet loyalty is rivaled only by my commitment to these pens. I find them the most satisfying to both write things down and cross things off.

Anyway! It’s nothing too crazy, but just a fun little thing that I use in my everyday life that I thought might be helpful. Let me know if you do end up trying it out–I’m curious if it works for other people too!

What’s your preferred to-do list method?

p.s. how to be more productive, and #ProductiveSaturday hacks

  • I’m an obsessive list-maker, so I do something very similar (although I might steal some inspiration from you and add a “to get” section to thin out my “to do” section!). There’s definitely something satisfying about physically crossing a task off the list!

  • Pingback: Notes on my work-from-home routine | C'est Christine()

  • camorose

    Yes! I feel like separating to do and to get has been really helpful, especially when I can take a quick glance at that quarter of the page when I’m heading to the grocery store or on Amazon!