Hand Writing & Organizing your To-Do List

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Building a Start up from the ground up, is no easy task. When you’re just starting out, you have to be the heroe and come up with solutions to upcoming challenges, getting new customers, taking care of existing ones, develop your product offering enough to get your first round of funding and of course still get trivial things done that need to be done no matter what. All in all, it’s hard to keep track of everything. It’s even harder to focus on a single task when so many pressing events pop up unto your schedule.

So how can you get everything done and still get a few hours of sleep? I’ve tried several methods to keep my list all checked out. First of all, I started keeping reminders on my calendar, so that I would know that by that time of day, I should be doing the next thing on my to-do list. Sadly, once the notification came up, something or someone would call my attention to deal with a pressing matter, an unforeseen situation like a new price quote or modifications to certain projects, and so on.

This trail of developments made me realize that having notifications show up on my devices wasn’t enough. I started trying good old hand writing. I started jotting down a simple list on my moleskine of all the things that needed to be done ASAP. One by one, I would need to check them off. This little habit of having to write down the old fashion way would do tremendous help to my brain. It would be lime literally closing my eyes and picturing how I wrote down the task, and remember each detail that went on in my head as I was writing it. This indeed helped a lot in my daily task achievements, but something else was missing.

I then started jotting down the same tasks, but this time, on post-it notes. I would stick them on my blackboard, but not before splitting my blackboard in three areas: to be done, doing and done. I would pile up all of my tasks on the first area, and the slowly pick one up and move it to “doing”, and then finally leaving them on “done”. This method would help me focus on one task at a time, getting things done much much faster, without forgetting about the rest of the list. And if during the day more tasks would pop up, I would just jot them down on another post-it note And add it to the “to be done” pile.

Lately, I must confess, I have been sticking a bit more to a single, hand-written list on a notepad or my moleskine, seeing that I sometimes don’t have the time for post-it notes. But truth be told, stickies have their charm.

And then tonight, as I was browsing through Flipboard, I came across an article that described a similar thing. The author of course would have his own list of tasks to do during the day, and he always listed them down his digital calendar. He then goes on by saying that it had been a long time since he last wrote anything down. He then went back to listing things on his moleskine. Turns out, there is a scientific explanation as to why we really do need to hand write things. Our brain simply learns faster because hand writing pin points a moment and event in time in which you are establishing something, making it easier for the brain to reference a piece of information from the past. Turns out I wasn’t so wrong after all!

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