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It’s hard to boost productivity when you’re feeling burned out. One of the many contributors to burnout is mental load. Having a million and one things to think about can put significant strain on your brain. I know just as well as anyone how hard it can be to get in the right mindset (and stay there!) when it feels like there are so many thoughts fighting for attention.

Something that I’ve found really helps me is to carve out a few minutes to make a list. It helps refocus your mind on positive and productive thoughts. You can rest easy knowing that everything you put down on that paper has been noted. You’re free to focus on the task at hand and come back to everything else later.

If you’re the type of person who needs a little push to get yourself going, these 5 Lists To Make To Boost Productivity is a great way to start.

I’ve also provided a free List Template for each of these lists, so keep scrolling because the download link is below.

1. Boost Productivity with a To-Do List -> Priorities List

Super basic, I know. Now you probably already have a To-Do List. It’s probably growing by the second. But I have a different purpose for this To-Do List. I want you to use it to make a Priorities List.

Spend 10 minutes really thinking about all of the things that you need to do. Write it all down in one comprehensive list – no task is too small.

(Seriously, stop for a second and start making this list. This article will still be here when you get back).

Chores, errands and smaller tasks that need to be done should be added to this list too. While it might seem counterintuitive to keep adding to your list, writing these things down will mean there are less small things weighing you down, causing distraction and taking up some of the previous mental energy that you need for bigger tasks.

Try not to add items to your list for the sake of having a big to do list, but be honest in determining whether it’s something that is worth your time and attention. It’s a trap that’s too easy to fall into. A bigger to do list doesn’t make you more productive or superior. Being super busy isn’t as impressive as some people might feel. 

Once you have your list of things that you know that you need to do, go through and determine when these things need to be done by. Go through and next to each of the items on your list, write a due date or a deadline.

Be super honest with yourself.

It’s not helpful to be unrealistic with how much you can get done in a certain amount of time. If you feel as though you need to rush through something because there are so many other things that you also need to get done, your stress levels will soar through the roof. Be honest with yourself – about what needs to be on your list and how long the tasks will actually take you.

Once you’ve finished that, the next step is to reorganise your items by how important they are to you. I found that it helps to have a scale to rate the items. I’ve included the one that I use myself below, but you can write out one that works best for you. 

1 = Urgent, must be done right now

2 = Semi-urgent, must be done today

3 = Not so urgent, must be done before the end of the week

4 = Not urgent at all, must be done in the next fortnight

5 = Not necessary, can be done some time in the next month

Be aware that the priority level might change depending on what’s happening with life at that moment. 

Something that might be a 3 today might become a 1 depending on how long you wait till get it done. I find that starting the day reflecting on the priorities for that day can really help put things into perspective for you. Personally I know that’s helped me realise that while it may feel like there are a million and one things that I need to do, there are significantly less that need to be done today.

That’s it! The only thing left to do is to start doing. This list is a surefire way to boost productivity because it provides much-needed clarity.


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2. Write an Achievement List to boost productivity

This next list is one that I find super inspiring. It really helps me get in the right mindset to knuckle down and work hard.

An Achievement List is a list of all of the things that completing your task at hand will help you achieve or move towards. It’s essentially a list of motivation – of reasons why you should want to do what you need to do.

To do this, you need to start with the task at hand. Write it down in front of you so that you can focus your thoughts. Once you’re clear on what the task is, answer the below questions:

  • What are the immediate benefits to doing this task right now?
  • What are the long-term benefits of investing my time in this task now?

Under each of these subheadings, benefits can include:

  • Physical rewards – what can you physically get from completing this task?
  • Emotional rewards – how will completing this task make you feel?

When faced with a task, particularly one that is difficult of requires a lot of effort, it’s easy to focus on the difficulty or the effort needed.

What you should be focusing on is all the good stuff.

Rather than thinking, “By doing this I lose time/energy,” try instead to think, “By doing this I gain (insert amazing reward here).

Boosting productivity starts with a mindset change. Shifting your focus to the positives can help stoke the fire that gets you working hard for your dreams.

3. A List of Other Things You Would Be Doing With Your Time If You Weren’t Doing This 

An “Other Things” List is something that I’ve recently begun to incorporate into my journaling when I’m searching for reasons to be productive. It’s essentially a list of other things that you would be doing with your time if you weren’t using it to complete the task at hand. Things on that list might include watching Netflix or scrolling through Instagram. 

Now this exercise might seem a little counterintuitive. However, I’ve found that flipping the switch can be very helpful. The point of this exercise is to look at the list of other things that you could be doing with your time, and then asking yourself:

Is this getting you closer to where you want to be and how you want to feel. 

If your goal is to relax and wind down, then maybe watching an episode on Netflix is more important to you right now than finishing off that piece of work . At least by knowing that, you can truly relax and enjoy that time guilt-free because you know that it’s of a higher priority at the moment. But, if in being honest with yourself, you believe that cutting out distraction at getting work done serves you more at this moment in time, and then you can truly focus on that knowing that you’re making the most of your time.


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4. Boost productivity with The List of Quotes

Do you ever have that moment where you read something or hear something and it’s like something shifts inside you? The best way that I can describe it is when my soul ignites or like the clouds clear to reveal the sun. That exact feeling is what this next list is trying to create (and recreate).

Now if you’re anything like me, you have a bunch of random quotes saved as screenshots or photos on your phone, or a bunch of Notes with quotes listed, but they are in no way organised for easy access. The List of Quotes is designed to put you in the right mindset. To motivate, to inspire and to kick start your day. Below is a small list of motivational and inspirational quotes that are a part of my own collection. 

Sam’s List of Quotes

For Motivation and Inspiration to Boost Productivity.

  • The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. – Walt Disney
  • The secret to getting ahead is getting started. – Mark Twain
  • The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do. – Steve Jobs
  • I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse. – Florence Nightingale
  • The best way to predict your future is to create it. – Abraham Lincoln
  • If it’s important you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse. – Ryan Blair
  • Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. – Buddha
  • Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.

5. A List of Ways To Treat Yourself to Boost Productivity

I found this quote in my journal when I was listening to motivational speaker Tony Robbins which reads, “People who succeed look at how they feel at the end of the process, people who never start look at what they have to go through.” (You’ll have to forgive me, I’m not entirely sure that this is what he said verbatim, but you get the gist).

Point is, hard work and dedication is amazing, but being able to reward yourself for your diligence can ensure that it continues. Sometimes the tasks in front of you feel mountainous. The thought of what you have to go through has already taken up so much of your energy. You’re exhausted before you even begin working. Trust me, I’ve been there! So this next list is a way to think about the end goal in a way that’s a little bit more sudden than thinking about how these tasks might add up to the achievement of a great goal.

Setting small goals and rewarding yourself for their completion creates a positive association towards hard work, directing your focus and getting things done. Think small, simple things that are desirable enough that you wantto work for the reward, but also things that increase your self-care. Below are some of the things on my own list:

Sam’s Treat Yo’self List

Because you deserve it.

  • Book a massage
  • Draw a bath
  • Re-watch an old favourite movie or a few episodes of a TV show
  • Indulge in a face mask or scrub
  • Go for a walk (preferably a place surrounded by nature where I can unplug)
  • Paint or draw
  • Dust off the guitar and jam
  • Meditate
  • Get a manicure (or do one at home)
  • Get a bubble tea/hot chocolate/chai latte
  • Take a nap
  • Add some new books to my wishlist

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So there you have it! My 5 Lists to Make To Boost Productivity. I hope these list-making ideas are just as helpful to you as they have been for me.

– Sam xx