Do you make task lists just to check off items? Have you (like me) added things to your list that you already did, just so you could check them off? That’s because we like completion. The culmination triggers a dopamine hit in your brain.


When we waste time cycling on things– starting loops that never stop, meetings without resolution, thinking without action– we don’t give ourselves that completion.


Artifacts remind us that we made progress and help ensure we don’t repeat the work or thought process again without resolution. A mentor of mine once said, “Never have a meeting that doesn’t produce an artifact.” Otherwise, you’re doomed to revisit old topics, forget key strategy items and simply waste time on low priority stuff, especially when multiple people are involved.


My preferred tool is a spiral-bound notebook. I take notes daily, all the time. I made fun of a past boss who introduced me to this low tech, easy, fail-safe habit when I thought my Palm Treo made me Mr. Productivity. He never forgot an idea, decision or deadline– his or mine. I did. I’ve been using a notebook since. Google Docs and Keep are awesome. Trello, too. I even draft emails to myself.


This is different than making task lists, of course. Task lists never die. Nor is it social media performance art. This is just for you: capture thoughts, ideas big and small, reminders… to note where you’ve been, take stock, and move forward.


What are your favorite tools?