A new lesson for me in keeping things simple: the basic To-Do List is my new favorite productivity tool. Oldest trick in the book, but it works incredibly well!

No separate categories, or fancy apps, or pre-scheduled phone alerts, just this notebook that my grandma gave me for Christmas (the congratulatory cover has also been great for my self-esteem).

I realize this isn’t groundbreaking in any way, but somehow giving myself the freedom to be “less organized” (keeping a haphazard, random list without a real “system”) has allowed me to focus my energy on completing tasks rather than categorizing them. I almost find the random order inspiring — changing focus throughout the day keeps me engaged.

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At the end of my work day, I quickly jot down all the items left to be completed on my current project, so in the morning it’s easy to pick right back up where I left off.

It’s also been a great way to jot down new tasks that come in via email without losing track of the bigger project I’m in the middle of. When previously I might have set off to complete the smaller “to-do” right away and gotten distracted from the bigger picture, now I just make a note and continue working.

Keeping my list constantly updated is also very personally satisfying (love checking the boxes!) and a fun way to keep track of what I am working on throughout the year. Hoping I will keep it going throughout 2014 — so far my productivity has increased in a very promising way.