Why writing down tasks from your task management app can be a productivity booster.

This started out as a tweet, when I was listening to the latest episode of the Pen Addict Podcast, but I didn't find a way to write it short enough. One of the biggest productivity boosts I every experienced when I used a task management solution like OmniFocus or Todoist was when I started to write down what I planned to do that day in a notebook. I know it sounds counter productive and weird. But hear me out.

The way I used to do it was that I opened a double page in a Field Notes notebook, and wrote the name of the day, and then went over what I had in OmniFocus and first wrote down everything that was due on the left side, and what I hoped to do on the right page. Then I closed the application, and it would stay like that until I had completed everything.

This eventually drove me down a path that led to me going 100% paper on everything that is related to calendars and task management, but it doesn't have to. You can read more about that here.

This is what you get if you give this trick a try:

  • Planning. You actually sit down and plan everything you are going to do, and you actually think about what is important and what you reasonable can expect to accomplish.
  • Focus. It is much easier to look down on a notebook while working than switching to your app of choice. There might be something poping up and distracting you, or you might get lost in all the other tasks that you have there. When you look in your notebook, you only see the double page, and what you put there.
  • Efficiency. It is so easy to be efficient at what ever you do, when you know exactly what you should be doing. And my personal opinion is that the only way to get there in a consistent way is by doing some simple planning and focus.

Then, at the end of the day, I used to go over what I completed and didn't and cross out in my notebook what I didn't get to, and marked what got done as completed in my app of choice. This method gives you a lot in terms of planning, focus and efficiency, but you also learn a lot about yourself, and most important: how much can I expect to get done in any given day.