Getting Things Done: The Notecard Method

You wake up in the morning, excited to see what amazing things you can accomplish that day. You make a mental list of all the things you’re going to do. Sure, you meant to do these things yesterday, but that’s what today is for!

Fast forward 16 hours. You lay in bed, thinking of all the things you did that day. Wait – nothing from that great list got done? Hmm, well it’s because that thing came up, and I had to do that other stuff, and whatever I’ll just do that stuff tomorrow.

That’s what my days have looked like recently. I realized the devastating spiral of inactivity I was falling into. When you get to a low in your life, you start to re-evaluate. When I look back, I notice how productive I used to be. I started asking, why then but not now?

I think we get into these spirals because we get fixated on something that cannot be resolved, and it blinds us from what’s actually important in our lives. When I was younger, I used to have such a strong drive to accomplish goals. I would make these checklists in my head and be excited to check items off, all without even being conscious of it! This probably stemmed from my love of video games.

In video games, there is (almost) always a goal, with a (usually) literal check-box. From playing so many games, I got really good at applying the same principals to real life. Since I haven’t been playing so many games lately, I’ve been slipping on this habit; or maybe I just got caught up in the wrong things. The point is, I found a way to get me back in the zone.

The Notecard Method

It’s pretty simple: at the start of each day, grab an empty note card. Label the date at the top, and a blank for the “score”. Then, write down 10 check-boxes, with 10 things that you want to do that day. At the end of the day, tally up the check-box’s and mark your score at the top.

You should write down 10 things such that at the end of the day when you lay down, you could look at the completed list and say “I WIN AT TODAY. GOOD JOB BRO.”

Here is mine for today:

Notecard Example

The goal is obviously to check off as many as you can that day. In addition, to keep the motivation going, you can try to beat your score for the previous day. If I don’t check off an item that day but it’s important, I split it up into two smaller tasks and add them to the card for the next day.

Finally, it’s very rewarding to look through your pile of notecards from the previous days. You see all these check marks next to things that you’ve done and you feel even more motivated to keep up your streak. At the end of the week, seeing a stack of 10 / 10’s feels amazing.

And with that, I check off my last item for the day, going to bed excited for the days to come.

3 thoughts on “Getting Things Done: The Notecard Method”

  1. Nice twist on the to-do list. Gamifying productivity has worked for me in the past, but I’ve tended to abandon the software I was using. This seems like a simple enough idea to implement and still fell as though I’m playing a game as I’ll want to beat my score from the previous day/week.

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