Do This One Thing to Be More Productive

Want to be more productive, reduce stress and sleep better at night?

Here's one simple thing that can help:

Keep a "to do" list.

Photo by Avosb/iStock/Getty Images

In my first job after college, my boss gave everyone in our office copies of a time-management book.  As a fairly organized person, I always loved reading books like this - but confess that the ideas didn't always stick.

A chapter on keeping a master "to do" list, however, captured my attention.  I was kind of overwhelmed trying to manage details on a lot of projects, and figured I would give it a try. 

It worked - and I have been keeping a list ever since.

I actually keep two different lists.  One is for urgent tasks and things to do this week, such as ordering products for TV segments, booking travel, scheduling conference calls, writing blog posts, etc.  The second list is for longer-range planning, since I plan many of my TV segments months in advance.

With a list of everything that needs to get done - in one place - I don’t have to worry that something important will slip through the cracks.  As a result, I don't lay awake at night trying to remember what I need to do the next day.  And it is incredibly satisfying to cross items off the list as they are completed.

For me, it's easier to keep track of things on paper, so I'm always looking for inexpensive, pretty notebooks for my office.  It doesn't matter whether you keep the list on your phone, tablet or paper - the main thing is to get in the habit of using it and maintaining it.

Have you tried keeping a "to do" list?  How has it worked for you?