To-Do or Not To-Do? It’s Not Even a Question.

To-Do or Not To-Do

Recently, the productivity world has been abuzz about a new concept called “The Bullet Journal”. People are so excited that they are even using the whole phrase as a verb, as in, “Do you bullet journal?” And when people start verbing your name, you know you’re on to something—if you don’t believe me, just google it :).

Cari Romm‘s got a great article over at Science of Us that offers a comprehensive breakdown of the bullet journal phenomenon, as well as the reasons why to-do lists in general and the bullet journal in particular are effective productivity tools.

Much To-Do About Nothing?

Now, the bullet journal isn’t for everybody. For instance, it isn’t for me. When I first saw mention of it, I thought, “oh, cool it’s a to-do list but also you can draw trees and stuff!” I like drawing, and trees, so I was pretty excited.

Then I watched the “how to bullet journal” video embedded in the article.

I’m not the kind of person who breaks out in hives, but if I were that kind of person, this video would have made me break out in hives. Spending this much time on organization stresses me the hell out. You even need a ruler!

Just To-Do It.

Nevertheless, Romm’s article has some great insights into why creating to-do lists is a good idea, and I am firmly on board with the general premise. At Timyo, we recognized the importance of to-do lists, which is why to-do functionality has been a part of Timyo since the very beginning.

A couple of key takeaways:

1. To-do lists work because they “externalize memory”.

As Romm explains it (quoting behavioral neuroscientist Daniel Levitin):

Your mind is precious real estate — most people can only pay attention to three or four things at a time — and transferring your to-dos frees up space for other, more immediate needs. “If you’re at work and you’ve got these voices in your head like, ‘Don’t forget to pick up the dry-cleaning,’ and ‘We need some milk,’ and ‘I have to pay this bill today,’ and ‘I have to call back Aunt Tilly,’ that’s four things … you’re already at your peak and you’re not even doing your work.”

This “precious real estate” is the reason that Timyo lets you integrate your to-dos directly into the rest of your calendar, along with scheduled emails. Romm, again: “Put your whole life — your work to-dos, your social calendar, your grocery list — in one place, and the odds are higher that you’ll open the notebook for one thing and end up seeing a reminder for something else.”

2. Taking time off is key.

One of Timyo’s guiding principles is that “busy-ness is bad for business.” We are also keen supporters of work-life balance (or, really, work-life boundaries). And according to Levitin:

The research tells us that if you can take time off from your workflow and let your mind wander — maybe doodle, listen to music, draw pictures, just stare out the window — those periods of inactivity are actually essential to having productive periods of activity.”

Timyo helps you keep track of everything you need to keep track of all in the same place. And crucially, Timyo allows you to schedule emails into your calendar for when they make the most sense to you, allowing your “you time” to truly be yours—whether that’s a midday break, dinner with the family, or a long weekend away.

Being more productive while you are working gives you more time to do whatever it is you love to do when you aren’t—going on a hike, sleeping in, learning a new recipe, or spending, I don’t know, like eighteen freaking hours making a bullet journal.

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