In August of 2020, the team and I at Free Logic Media and The Brew made a video encouraging others to stick together to get through the troubling and difficult period we were all in during quarantine. Some team members talked about writing down 1 task to complete for the day and build up tasks from there, while others talked about creating a simple morning routine that will help get your mind and body ready for the day. I had talked about creating a to-do list in my journal that not only helps me keep track of my tasks and goals, but also how creating a to-do list helps ease my anxieties and helps me focus on my work. Today, I want to talk more thoroughly about the benefits of creating a to-do list and how it’s made me a more productive and less stressed team member of The Brew and Free Logic Media.
Making it Personal
At first I was very hesitant about creating a physical, written to-do list inside of a journal or notebook. While notebooks can be as affordable as buying a single subject notebook from a local dollar store, I realized that investing in something that I liked and gravitated towards would encourage me to use the notebook. In the “Encouragement from Us” video I was using a Moleskin notebook that came in a pack of 3 for $20. In my mind it felt expensive, however I kept one notebook and gifted the other 2 to my friend and the other to my brother, both of which love to journal and take physical notes. I turned the expensive notebooks into a quick gift-giving opportunity that made me want to use the notebook more often.
As with many others in the current COVID-19 pandemic, I took up a completely random hobby to try out with all this newfound time while staying home for work. For me, that hobby was bookbinding and bookmaking. Not only was the cost of entry into the hobby very minimal (around $30 for an entire bookbinding kit with every tool and paper included), I also thought it would be a way to decompress and take up a small creative task that I could work on in the evenings. Following a simple tutorial on YouTube I was able to create my first hand-stitched book with some cardstock, drawing paper, and some string. Even though the stitching was amateur, I completely ripped a small portion of paper, and the cardstock is easy to pick up stains, the finished notebook is still mine and I couldn’t be more proud of this abomination.
By having a personal touch to my notebook, in my case an entirely hand-stitched notebook, the notebook becomes a part of my everyday use since I have this personal attachment to it. While you don’t have to completely make your own notebook to use it, anyone could personalize their notebook with their favorite bookmarks or features d0epending on what they’re looking for. My advice would be to ask yourself what you’re looking for in a journal, whether it be totally blank and open for complete control, or if it comes with calendars and goal trackers, and to research and find what options work best for you.
Easing my Anxieties
Hands-down the easiest thing I ever did for my mental health was write my tasks all in a singular place in my notebook. Part of my work involves a lot of moving parts with internal business editing as well as external client work, and oftentimes it can get overwhelming with the amount of work I need to complete to meet important deadlines. I realized that most of my stress came from the “what if I forgot to do something?” question that would constantly be in the back of my mind. By dedicating a few pages of my notebook to tasks and goals that need to be completed, it eliminated that particular stressor from my work day.
Not only did taking down notes and creating a to-do list help me ease my anxieties, it also created a small reward system for me. Being able to cross off a task from my to-do list creates a sense of accomplishment that motivates me to keep going and to fulfill other tasks, and overall encourages me to continue the habit of writing my to-do list in a journal or notebook.
Being able to contribute to The Brew’s Ristretto and sharing tips about professional development and mental health is one of my favorite things about the platform. While my own experiences can go so far as to explaining how creating a to-do list helps keep me on task, I’ve also included a few resources to help you jumpstart into organizing your tasks and goals. Feel free to link or comment your own tips below to share the wealth of knowledge to others!
Free Logic Media’s “Encouragement from Us”