The psychology of the to-do list – why your brain loves ordered tasks. By Sharilynn H

We all struggle with productivity, especially since the exponential growth of technology has us glued to our phones 24/7. While technology has advanced and made aspects out lives more convenient, studies have shown we have regressed our ability to process information and store it long term. For example, Microsoft conducted a study in 2000 to measure the average attention span of people. Based on 2000 studies, it was estimated to be around 12 seconds; however, by 2018, it had dropped to eight. There no doubt that social media usage is partially responsible for it. Social media has become the go-to drug for an instant hint of self-validation and inspiration. However, like most drugs, the effects are short-lived.

We often look for inspiration in places easily accessible such as social media and the internet. Many, in search of motivation in the form of escapism. While social media is a great platform to share information and learn interesting new things, it can become overwhelming to process that amount of data. Without setting purposeful goals, we may risk falling victim to complacency and using short-term distractions to solve a problem when the reality is that things like social media offer distractions with very few solutions.

When used correctly, the internet can be a powerful tool; you can use it to grow your business, learn a new language and even collaborate with people on various projects thousands of miles away. Whether we like social media or not, the internet is going to be around for a while. So we might as well use it to our advantage.


Studies have shown that we perform better in productivity when we have a to-do list—preferably written down in a journal. Below are some easy steps to increase productivity by using your creativity.

  • Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and plan your day. Keep your to-do list short – for people who aren’t accustomed to journaling, using an organized system is overwhelming and getting organized is a skill that takes time to perfect. Start by writing down anything you like, such as poems, quotes, thoughts, or your dreams. Dreams often reveal suppressed emotions, thoughts within our subconscious. According to many Psychologists, a journal should follow a structured schedule. However, suppose you struggle with organization and never kept a scheduled journal /day planner before you may find this overwhelming. In that case, the thought of writing will soon become associated with something that feels more like a task, and you’d likely lose interest. Instead of using your journal solely as a day planner, turn it into a reflection of who you are. Allow yourself to become creative. Let your inner child run wild, and decorate it in a way that reflects your unique soul; decorate it with butterflies, stickers, or motivational affirmations. I’m a grown woman who still likes and enjoys using glitter pens unapologetically yet manages to write psychology articles on an academic level. Journaling can be a great way to inspire creativity. Once you begin to enjoy it, you can develop a more organized system to get tasks done.
  • Get enough sleep, wake up happier, and feel more beautiful.
  • Feeling rested improves our mental well-being and increases our overall sense of happiness. A productive day starts the night before. Get adequate sleep, limit blue light since it decreases melatonin, the hormone released at night responsible for the sleep-wake cycle. Irregular sleeping patterns, as well as sleep deprivation, put you at higher risk for depression and anxiety.
  • Set your alarm an hour earlier. Resist the urge to check your phone. You won’t miss out on anything, I promise. If the world turns into Armageddon and ends during one hour of your absence, you’ll know without a social media motivation. Choose to do one healthy/ productive thing with that time. Learn to meditate, read a book, experiment with various natural holistic herbs, and turn your tea break into a ritualistic ceremony. This way, you begin your day feeling calm, centered, and in control instead of overwhelmed.

  • Make up your bed and Clean up after yourself immediately. How can your change your life when you haven’t changed your bedsheets? If you start by making your bed, you’ve already accomplished your first task for the day.
  • Affirmations. Start the day with positive self-talk. You can purchase an affirmation book or create your own. Affirmation cards are filled with inspirational quotes and positive self-talk talk. Start your day with positive thoughts; think of your mind as a speed train; it’s heading towards a beautiful destination called optimism while the other train called pessimism is heading towards doomsday. Nobody wants to board that train. Filling your mind with positivity before the day will increase your chances of having the day you subconsciously manifested.
  • Stop making excuses: You are the pilot of your life You determine where and when the conditions are ideal for take-off. However, if you procrastinate too long, you risk flying into a storm. You can either take off when the weather is excellent and stable or risk-taking with unpredictable navigational tools.
  • Don’t over-commit. We often set big ambitious goals because we have big dreams. However, research in goal setting and achievement has found that selecting a smaller plan and combining it with a deadline increases your chances of completing it. You’ll feel great that you did, more positive, and ready to take on further challenges. As you progress. You will gain more confidence and begin to take on more challenging goals. Start by doing just one small thing one thing. The best project is the completed one.

Organize your closet by creating your own style creative look book.

Get rid of clothes you no longer wear, reorganize your closet or create your lookbook with cool creative outfit ideas. You can ask your friends to join and share style inspirations. In my next article, I discuss ways to find your ideal style. Personal style isn’t designer bags or maintaining a particular look or aesthetic. It’s comfortable in your skin, self-awareness, confidence, creativity, and personality.

  • Procrastinating. We know that’s procrastination results in decreased productivity; however, understanding why we procrastinate is the first step to improvement. Many studies have found a correlation between procrastination and its link to failure and a need for perfectionism. Our behavior is a combination of learned patterns and various other stimuli as explored by Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, which indicates that humans learn through not one but multiple different types of physiological, psychological, and neurological exposures. One small way to increase productivity is to change your environment. Your environment can significantly impact your ability to focus and complete tasks. Find a space that limits distractions, like a quiet book store or coffee shop. Take one hour to do something creative. Write a short poem, write a draft for a book you’ve been thinking about. Or go for a scenic walk as an opportunity to draw inspiration for art, photography, and even style. Artists and designers often use nature for various types of inspiration

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Sharilynn Hanslo
About the author: Shari enjoys writing about topics that interest her. She is a Bachelor of science - psychology major with a background in nutrition and fitness. She enjoys travelling to new countries and immersing herself in a new culture. She's also taught English in Cambodia and Thailand as well as spent some time in Europe."I'm biracial, born in South Africa, and have an identity crisis at least once a year"

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