I have experimented with a number of different “productivity hacks” over the years and often come to the same conclusion: it is hard for me to game the system. Productivity, for me specifically, is really a product of hard work and focus.

I have tried several different to-do list applications, timer techniques, etc. to try and maximize my daily output. Nothing really seems to stick other than one simple strategy: write lists.

I write lists often. I often write duplicate lists down that I have already written. I generally use my phone or a simple piece of paper to make the list. They are not super complicated, and really just a brain-dump of my thoughts onto a sheet. I sometimes break them down into three sections:

  • now
  • soon
  • later

I try my best to get the “now” section done as soon as possible. These are urgent items that I must get done. Soon items are of some priority but can wait until I finish my top list. And finally, the later section is comprised of things I am thinking about but do not want to worry about in the moment.

Lists are great because they store my worries. They store my anxieties. I make lists to only focus on one thing at a time. I do not always remember to cross things off my list – but that does not really matter. The point is not to follow a routine. It is just to make lists.

The content varies. I make lists of different sizes, about different topics. Sometimes I write about what I have to do this week, this month, or this year. Other times I write product requirements, etc. Other times I write about personal goals etc. They are dead simple and easily executable.

Once again, building the list is just the step one. The real work is doing them.

I would say I recommend using lists to maximize your productivity – but I also realize that it is really important to try and see what works for you.