My analog to-do list system

Chris Diaz
4 min readFeb 24, 2023

I have always been the guy who gets excited about organizational systems.

I consume content about it, I talk about it with my friends, I write about it, I think I’m in love with it… Who wrote that!?

My obsession goes back to when I was just a little kid…

My whole childhood I was obsessed with action figures, but more specifically I was into organizing them. No, I’m not kidding.

Instead of play fighting with them, I would spend most of my time sorting them by powers, colors, if they were good or evil, if they had capes or tails, and the list goes on!

This trait carried on with me throughout my life in school, in entrepreneurship, and in my personal life.

A few years ago was when I started playing around with digital tools like notion, things 3, obsidian, you name it I’ve tried it.

My current daily drivers are notion, obsidian, and an analog to-do list system.

Yes, analog.

In this article that’s what I am going to show you — My analog to-do list system.

Overview

To simplify, all this system comes down to is writing down your daily tasks on a notecard, and placing that notecard somewhere visible.

Now, obviously there’s more to it. But if all you want is an extremely simple to-do list system, there you have it.

All though there’s no fun in that! I would recommend you keep reading.

How it works

All you need for this system to work is:

  • Notecards (I use 4 x 6)
  • Sticky notes (This one is optional, you can use notecards for this too)
  • Pen or pencil
  • Thumbtacks
  • A wall (I use a corkboard)

Below is a picture of how my system is set up.

As you can see, I use 7 light green sticky notes to mark the days of the week. The orange sticky note acts as my key. And the 4 x 6 notecards are where I put my daily tasks.

Every morning I get a new notecard and write down everything that needs to get done.

How do I know what needs to get done?

Great question! I store my task database on Things 3. I know, I know, I’m a fraud.

On Things 3 I usually have a big list of tasks that need to be done. So every morning I pull up Things 3, pick the most urgent/relevant tasks, and I write them down on my notecard.

Another note worth mentioning is if I get a task that needs to be done that day, I don’t write on the things 3 app. I instantly write it down on my daily task card. I just find this a more efficient way of doing it.

Below is a picture of my key. It’s how I remember how to mark my priority task, optional tasks, events, reminders, etc.

The final piece to this system is keeping the current day’s task card on your desk or in your pocket, anywhere it is close to you at all times throughout the day.

I keep mine right below my monitor, or if I go to a coffee shop to do work, I will put it in my pocket, and we’re good to go!

The Benefits

The benefits of using an analog to-do list system are fully dependent on the individual.

I truly believe there isn’t one right universal answer.

The benefits for me could be a disadvantage to you or vis versa.

With that in mind, I came up with a list of what comes to my mind when thinking of the benefits of an analog to-do list system.

  1. The process of putting pen to paper slows the mind and creates a sense of scarcity. The benefit of that is you don’t overload your to-do list with unmeaningful tasks.
  2. You get to escape the digital world for a bit.
  3. No limits to what you can write down, meaning I can write reminders, events, tasks, optional tasks, etc.
  4. You can structure it however you want.

Outro

I don’t want this article to come across like I am preaching analog to-do list systems are superior to all others because that isn’t true.

At the end of the day, the best to-do list system or any productivity system is the one you use and have access to.

If you enjoyed this post you will enjoy my free newsletter 10x more, I promise. It is a great way to stay connected with me and it also supports my work. If that is too much of a commitment right now go ahead and give my Twitter a follow :)

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