Stay Motivated and Organized with a Tactile To-Do List


When I was a child, I made a game out of anticipation. I often put together “countdown chains” out of thin strips of construction paper. Like the Christmas chain pictured at right, each link represented a day until whatever it was I was looking forward to finally arrived. There was a countdown chain for everything: birthdays, Christmas, Easter, field trips, Halloween, summer vacation. Each day, the chain brought me a kind of anticipatory satisfaction in ripping off one link, and eyeing what was left, measuring it as it got shorter and shorter.

A tactile to-do list works just like those old countdown chains – except instead of construction paper, you’ll be using something else that’s satisfying to rip up and throw away: Post-It notes.

I use this method every morning at work. The first thing I do when I sit down at my office computer is start scribbling stuff I need to do on a Post-It pad. One task, one Post-It. Then, I put each task right where my eyeballs go most of the day: All around the perimeter of my computer monitor. When I’m done with each task, I rip it off the monitor, crumple it and toss it in the trash. Effective and rewarding.


How to Make a Tactile To-Do List
Making the actual list is pretty easy: Write some tasks on Post-It notes and stick them somewhere you can see them while you’re completing the tasks.

Whether it works for you or not depends on where you put it. To make a list you’ll need a pad of Post-It notes, or several, if you’re the type that likes to color code. Then, you need to decide where they’d be most effective, which depends on the type of tasks you’re doing. Grinding out articles and freelance assignments? Put the notes on your computer monitor. Cleaning the kitchen? Stick them to the fridge. Just put them anywhere you can see them at all times.

Why It Works
Tactile to-do lists are effective for three reasons: They stay near the center of your attention at all times (as long as you place them correctly), they break down your tasks into bite-size chunks (remember, one task, one note) and they offer immediate gratification (done? yank that sucker down and throw it out!), so you’re reminded, organized and motivated to complete your tasks.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Sticky Notes or Other Digital Notes
Moving typed notes to Trash or the Recycle Bin from your computer desktop feels okay, but don’t be tempted to use Sticky Notes instead of real, actual Post-It notes, because it won’t be as effective, and the immediate gratification isn’t really all that gratifying. It just won’t. Your brain responds to the physical motion of grabbing a tangible item and throwing it away as a de-stressing mechanism.That’s why some forms of therapy involve taking negative thoughts, writing them down, and throwing them away.

Could the tactile to-do list work for you? Try it, and post your experience in the comments.