daily post-it noteOne of the questions I hope to answer through this blog is, “What do highly productive people do differently?

What can we learn from the best of the best? There’s a whole range of answers, of course. But if you study high achievers in any field, you’re bound to notice an emphasis on quality over quantity.

Instead of trying to do everything, top performers are obsessed with getting the right things done. Most aren’t super-geniuses; they’ve just installed various tricks in their lives to keep them focused on doing the hard things that deliver results (instead of the easy things that make them feel productive but don’t move the needle).

Today, I want to share a simple tool that’s helped me cultivate this approach in my own life: the daily post-it note.1

The Daily Post-It Note

The concept is simple—there are only three steps.

  1. Before you begin your day, identify the three most important tasks you’d like to accomplish. I like to do this the night before, as I seem to be a little bolder with my choices when a good night’s sleep separates the planning from the doing. Go get ‘em, Future Jonathan!
  2. Write those three tasks on a post-it note. Put a little check-box next to each task, and stick the post-it note somewhere where you will see it frequently during the day (like your laptop keyboard or your notebook).
  3. Complete these tasks first. When you sit down to begin the day’s work, start with these three tasks. This is easier said than done, and I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t always work perfectly. For instance, you can see on today’s post-it note that “finish + post blog" is one of my three tasks, yet I’m finishing this blog post in the evening. But I’m often finished with all three before lunch.

The daily post-it note is just a specific way to implement a broader strategy: doing the most important thing first (which I’ve written about here). It’s a handy little trick, a highly effective tactic that’s neither difficult nor time-consuming to put into practice.

Take it for a test drive and see what kind of results you get!

  1. I picked up the idea from a great blog post by Chad Hall which describes the daily post-it note as part of a larger productivity system called the Medium Method. It’s a great post about a clever system. ↩︎