Using a real notepad

With great feedback from my friends regarding this blog article I wrote: Organizing my todo list, I have decided to share a dirty little secret: I use a real notepad (too).

I went to the local store last summer and got myself a big paper block (bit bigger than A4 letter) and a sharpie.

Every time I walked around the apartment and I noticed something I had to do, I picked it up and made a checkbox covering 3 to 4 lines and took a note of that ‘todo’ item.

Now, this is not about creating a huge list, nor is this about having multiple todo lists, or just convenience, or actually getting more things done. This is about helping yourself get organized. A mental overview of ‘stuff’ that you just don’t get around to.

In that first blog post I explain how I just write everything down. And I don’t care about recurring items or cleaning up the list (managing it) or alike. But of course, one item on it that recurs weekly is ‘do something from paper notepad’.

And there you have it, a dirty little secret on how I manage to deal with stuff that just stays lying around.

Sure, the electronic version might also have a few of these listed, but duplicates don’t matter. Because with the paper notepad I have it a) around, which is convenient, and b) I can glance over it when bored and remind myself (get an impression of workload) of what’s left to do in the apartment. And this does exactly what I need. I don’t forget it, but I also don’t feel the stress of ‘gosh there is so much to do I can not remember it all where do I start’. Because the list solves that. It’s in front of me, and I just pick whatever is on the page. Page complete? Rip it out and throw it out.

This helps me release stress, I have to worry less about a big pending list and whatever I do, is done. And that’s more than just doing nothing.

And if I forget about the notepad I run into it eventually in my electronic todo list as a recurring item.


If you have a project coming like a birthday, put in your electronic todo list [ ] organize birthday, but then flip over the page in the notepad and write down birthday: and the specifics. And leave the paper notepad on your kitchen table or something obvious. So when you go out to buy milk, you remind yourself you could bring some of the stuff for the birthday with you. Spreading your workload. And if you think of something like ‘oh, balloons, must not forget them’, you just add it to the list.

Not organizing your todo list, and cleaning it automatically – using an electronic version – is one thing. But old fashioned paper doesn’t hurt either.

Got any tips? Post them. But I hope this dirty little secret of mine might just help you.