Dramatically Increase your Productivity using Simple Notes

Dramatically Increase your Productivity using Simple Notes

When you work for yourself, there’s no one to tell you what to do and when to do it. This can become a sticking point for the self-employed and ‘solopreneurs’, myself included.

However, I’ve found by creating simple notes with a pen and notepad or the ‘Notes’ application on my mac (anything will work), I’m able to dramatically increase my productivity.

This works as it allows for the periodisation of tasks with a timeline to achieve a predetermined action/result. This provides a framework to follow for the many tasks we freethinkers create for ourselves daily and provides a means to ensure progression (taking action) is occurring – which is in my opinion, the key to success in any venture.

The technique is not new, not complicated and not time consuming.

I’ll break down exactly how I do it for the greatest effect below – don’t expect miracles or secret hacks, just a simple foundation from which you can work to achieve task focus and ultimately timely progression of said tasks.

Here’s What I Want You to Do


I want you to write down small, achievable tasks or actionable steps, that you can complete in a portion of a day – between 30 mins to 3 hours. Just how many small tasks is up to you, I like to plan for one day’s worth of work at a time.

Find your preferred note making application or pad. I like to use Notes mostly as I can make a note on either my iPhone or Mac whenever it comes to me. Handily, they will automatically sync, meaning that note is accessible on both devices anytime.

An example of a list I may make myself for a day looks like this:

Be realistic in the amount of work you allocate yourself each day, too much and you’ll over face yourself and feel there is a mountain ahead of you. Too little and you’ll be finished before you know it and watching videos of cats on the internet without even realising it.

You may have to experiment a few times to establish just the right number of tasks to achieve for yourself personally. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that in life, any given task will expand to any given timeframe if you let it.

‘Any given task will expand to any given timeframe if you let it.’

Someone once

Take for example a factory producing a new car.

The workers are given a time frame of three months to have a car finished, no problem they think. However, when the boss walks in and announces that the car must be finished in two months or they aren’t getting paid, how long do you think it takes the car to be built? The workers talk less at their machines and take shorter breaks to achieve the desired end state, in two months.

The point I’m trying to illustrate here is that the workers proactively adjusted the many variables in their control to increase their productivity and thus produce the same result in a shorter timeframe. I consider the proactive organisation of tasks in an easily manageable way to achieve the same thing.

It’s up to me as my own boss to ensure productivity both high and optimised to ensure that I see the greatest success in all I do.

Right steering back away from that tangent, when you have a day’s worth of tasks written down in front of you I want you to start working through the list one by one. Once a task has been completed I like to erase it completely. This process gives me positive confirmation of achievement and reinforces to myself that I have completed the task that I set out to do. Consequently, creating a feeling of progression and a little win that you can congratulate yourself on in your head (or out loud…) – it makes a difference!

Invest in yourself with some literature, see our 5 best book recommendations for entrepreneurs starting a business in 2018 here.

Upon completion of a task, you may like to take a short break before refocussing on the next task. However, providing the tasks aren’t too long, I like to take a break after all the tasks for each ‘project’ are complete.

For example, I’ll take a short break after I’ve completed all the tasks for my ‘ZN Website’ in the image above. I’ll finish those tasks, erase them all from the list and have that short break feeling like it’s well earned.

All Tasks Completed


Congratulations, once you’ve completed your tasks for the day, go ahead and wipe the slate clean. Now you can plan the tasks for tomorrow – this is mega important.

Always make sure you have the next day’s work tasks written down. This allows you to attack the day positively right from the get go, thus eliminating that procrastination period of clicking around and wondering what you should do. We already know and have a plan, just crack straight on with it.

‘Make it a point of having the next day planned as your last task (or just make sure you do it), this is the key.’

A Wise Person

That’s it?


That’s it. Simple and remarkably effective when used properly. I urge you to give it a go, I will eat my hat if you try this and come back to me complaining of decreased productivity.

Parting Thoughts


I like to use Apple’s Notes application as I mentioned as it allows me to write down tasks on my phone that I think of when out and about that I would otherwise undoubtedly forget.

We Need Goals

It also helps to brainstorm a goal or project to unearth realistic goals which you wish to achieve. It could be as simple as stating that you want to have two new websites creating £1000 profit each. This overall goal can then be broken down into smaller goals that will help you achieve it, such as creating the website itself on WordPress. Your next manageable chunks to achieve this could then be spending 2 hours per day learning WordPress for example. But by purposefully writing down the ultimate goal, you can begin your attack on how to achieve it much more easily.

Here’s another example, when you set off in a car we have a destination in mind and likely the quickest route to get there in the satnav. We don’t just get in the car and drive around willy-nilly with no plan. We may coincidently arrive at the destination, but the route would be time consuming and costly – this is much the same, we need that destination (ultimate goal) to avoid procrastination and inefficient time wasting!

Review Your Own Progress

Finally, it’s a great idea to review your results. Every week or so ask yourself, did I achieve my sales goal on Amazon? Did I finish that bench I was making? Did I create two YouTube videos this week?

Analyse why certain tasks got completed while maybe others didn’t. Continually ask yourself ‘why’ to drill down to the root cause of the problem. I was taught a model called ‘The 5 Why’s’ at University to discover a root cause in engineering, I believe it’s relevant here too.

Why didn’t I post 5 times on Twitter this week? Because I was too busy. Why was I too busy? Because I spent too much time designing a website. Why did I spent too much time designing a website? Because I was watching too many cat videos on Facebook. Why was I watching cat videos? Because I didn’t have a robust plan and was distracted easily.

I find the best time to take a step back and review my progress is particularly when travelling. I get my headphones on and ask myself questions, work out why things occurred and create a list of things to do on my phone for when I’m back in the hotseat.

Thanks so much for reading, I can only apologise for the wordy nature of this post, expressing my thoughts doesn’t always occur at a good thought:word ratio. I hope this helps and happy planning.

Take care,

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