Why Written To-Do Lists Increase Productivity

When you get a new to-do item, do you immediately pick up your phone and go straight to your notes, or do you locate a pen and paper to write it down?

There’s a constant battle between paper and digital. There are tons of statistics on why digital to-do apps are “better,” many of which stress the convenience factor.

But are you productive if you do everything digitally? I’d argue no.

Writing your to-do list in a paper calendar or notebook is simple and doesn’t come with any distractions. Here are some reasons why this will increase your productivity.

Why Written To-Do Lists Increase Productivity

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash.

Minimize distractions

Our default state these days is distracted. There’s always a new notification clamoring for our attention: a Facebook message, an Instagram post, a Twitter DM, a mention on Slack, etc.

Defaulting to an analog task management system allows you to quiet the noise and minimize these distractions for a few minutes.

Writing down your notes and to-do items with pen and paper is not 100-percent distraction-free, but it does give you the time to think about what you are writing and keeps you focused on the topic or task at hand.

Writing is considered single-tasking and that, my friend, allows us to be in a flow state (or being in the zone). In this blog post, Chad Hall mentioned that in a flow state we burn less brain fuel. So try single-tasking by writing down your to-do list, and watch your productivity level grow.

Reduce screen time

Do you know how much time you spend using your mobile device?

Apple and Google both launched features to help us control the amount of time we spend on our smartphones.

For example, if you are reading this on an iPhone, you can see your screen time usage by navigating to your home screen, then swiping right until you cannot swipe anymore. Take a look at those “screen time” statistics.

According to Deloitte, Americans check their smartphones an average of 52 times a day. You may even be reading this on your phone while you’re waiting for a bus, in a checkout line, or even in the bathroom.

Writing down your to-do list can minimize your screen use and maximize your productivity.

It may improve your health

Who hasn’t gotten a headache after spending a long day staring at a screen?

Cutting back on screen time and writing out a to-do list and various notes are not only great for your productivity but may also improve your health by minimizing the amount and severity of your stress headaches.

It will help you relax and turn “off” work at the end of the day

It’s not just about what and how you write things down; it’s about when you do it.

If you write your to-do list for the next day at the end of the previous day, you can unload all of the projects, tasks, and unfinished items that you are pondering. This process can help you unwind and relax once you stop working.

Final thoughts

We all have our preferences. To me, there is something about writing out my thoughts, plans, goals, and to-do lists that makes me want to complete them. Being able to cross tasks and goals off of a list physically is oddly satisfying. You don’t get that same feeling when watching a reminder disappear or having to add a strikethrough in your phone notes.

How about we put the phone down and pick up a pen and paper? Try writing down your to-do list to see if there is a difference between the two.

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Author: Annabel Maw

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