Productivity Series: Writing Down Everything

One of the best constructive feedback that one of my managers gave me was: “You will write down everything that you have to do.”

This can sometimes sound very granular and very draining, but the reality is that essentially documenting ‘every single’ thing that one has to do can be a great source of a Productivity.

Sometimes, the reason we are worked up is because we have too much going on. Perhaps, our plates are overflowing in many directions and it is hard to sort out anything, resulting in a complete deadlock in all directions.

When we start documenting every single piece of work, thought, emotion that we have to process, it offloads our brain from heavy-duty ambiguity.

The strategy that I use to write out tasks is to lay out many pieces of paper, all over a table or stick them on a wall. On one page, all I write down is the topics. These are all the big category of things that need to be done. Some example of topics are: ‘Work’, ‘House Chores’, ‘Travel Plan’ etc.

The next thing is to use the other papers as headers for each of the topic and then document all the granular items within these categories. So, under the ‘Work’ topic, I would write down all the things about work. Under the ‘Home’ topic, I would write down everything related to home.

One can further make sub-topics under each as well. E.g. Under Home, I may have multiple categories, e.g. Cleaning Stuff, Cooking stuff etc.

One important point I have learnt is that in addition to writing just work-items, it is also important to write out emotions that may be bothering us about a category. For instance, if I am finding a certain task hard to accomplish, I write a separate line-item for: ‘Dealing with Stress related to Item X.’

What this helps out with is to ensure that everything that is in our brains, is now offloaded to paper or another source. It may not reduce our anxieties instantly and at times looking at just the amount of things to do can be more overwhelming. But with some time, this strategy starts working. It helps to know that we do not need to retain every piece of work that we need to do and that it is offloaded somewhere.

It is a known fact that crossing out items from our Todo list creates a ‘Dopamine Rush.’ This theory is important both for our work, but our other tasks too.

The list of Todo’s does not reduce by the day, but the fact of recognizing that we are making progress gives our brain the much needed support and energy to continue.



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