The List-Making Debate: Electronic vs. Paper

Creating lists is the best way to ensure things get done. Always keep an ongoing list of what you need to accomplish so when you have time to squeeze something in, you can look at that list and do it. If your list is too long and daunting, circle the three top priorities for the day and make sure those three things get done. If your list is electronic, try sorting items in order of priority and cross them off as you go. In the paper vs. electronic list debate, which do you prefer? Here are some benefits of each:

Advantages of a paper list:

  • Speed. Depending on your tech savvy, most can grab a pen and paper more quickly for those fleeting thoughts.
  • You can physically attach papers and coupons to your list.
  • You can create your own format. Circle things, draw lines, add ideas, sketches, etc...
  • Visibility. You're always able to see your paper list and the items on it.
  • Add-ability. Adding items to your list is easy as long as a pen or pencil is handy.
  • It's nice to be able to actually cross things off your list and scratch them out.
  • You can spread out your paper lists and see several at once.

Advantages of an electronic list:

  • Ability to sync your list over all devices.
  • You can set deadlines and reminders.
  • Sort in order of priority.
  • Keep multiple lists in one place.
  • You can attach photos and documents to your list.
  • Always handy with you on your mobile device.

Which do you prefer? Both sides have their benefits. I like to work from a paper list for daily to-do's. It's easy to jot thoughts down anytime and having that paper list in hand and visible helps to ensure it gets done. That being said, I also like to keep many other lists in an electronic format. There is an abundance of list programs and apps to choose from, so make another list--haha- of the features you like. Do you need to attach particular documents, sync it over many devices, share it with others? I happen to use Things. It's easy to use and syncs over all devices. I am a multi-list maker and have dozens of lists including: projects, blog posts, research topics, books to read, groceries, marketing ideas, etc… How you choose to create your 'to do' list is up to you, the secret to their success is using them frequently and having your lists in a format that works for you!

Monica Friel is president and founder of Chaos To Order - the Chicago area's premiere organizing company since 1990. Friel manages and trains a staff of professional organizers who specialize in everything from household clutter to corporate chaos.

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