number one productivity tool

Okay, I’m a little old fashioned.

I like manual systems for certain things.

Being a visual person I like to have my important task items in front of me. A computer screen just doesn’t work for me because as soon as I switch from one program to another, my calendar disappears.

In a visual world, “out of sight, out of mind” is very common for me.

The more I’m reminded of what I need to get done, the more likely I am to get it done!

While I keep an Action Journal with me, once I close the cover… out of sight, out of mind.

Realizing I needed a better system, I started to experiment a little with various things. Using a sheet of paper as a task list…too big to carry around with me. I tried Behance Action Journal pages but, again, too big. I tried Behance Action cards, but because I can’t control the space… it just didn’t work.

Magic Solution

In the end I settled upon a very useful, easy to carry, easy to format, and cheap, solution… the wondrously wonderful 3×5 index card.

BEFORE you click away, thinking I was going to lead you to some newfangled iPhone app, here’s the thing that’s important… whatever works for you.

I’m not suggesting you run out and buy a stack of index cards. BUT I am suggesting that if you are looking for a solution and haven’t tried them yet… give them a go.

I use whatever index card is the cheapest and Walmart has several sizes and some in colors cheap.

I buy the lined cards because they are cheaper than fully blank.

I turn them over and use the blank side. Simple.

I keep several on my desk, right in front of my keyboard.

Generally one is a task list. I put the day I start it on top, and I carry it with me until all the tasks are either lined out or transferred to a new card.

The others are for notes. For instance I have a blog post idea jotted down on one, I haven’t had time to transfer the idea to my bullet journal because I might use it this week. If not, I transfer the idea to a blog post idea list in my journal.

I have another with some movies written on it that I want to see, again, I haven’t had time to transfer these to a journal list.

Finally, I have a couple of old task list items with non-priority things that didn’t get transferred or done. Sometimes I end up needing to transfer them, sometimes I’m just waiting on one piece of info so I can line them out, and sometimes they just go away.

I always have the cards on my desk along with stack of blank ones all over the office, some on the coffee table where I watch TV, some next to the bed, etc. And I keep my main task list on the desk in front of me unless I work off-site, then I take it with me.

So here’s the reason I keep them everywhere and keep one with me… working memory.

More Working Memory

We all have a finite resource of working memory. No one is special, although some people can develop their working memory; the reality is that we can keep only 5-7 items in our working memory at any one time. If there are five items floating around in there and you add a sixth item… either one drops off or you start burning more brain glucose in an effort to remember them.

Enter the wondrous index card… jot item number six on the card and remove the stress of trying to remember. I jot things down like a mad woman because I don’t want to forget anything.

Of course, I have had some million dollar, brilliant ideas that were not put on an index card… which is why I am not yet a millionaire. But, when I enforce the discipline to get things written down, I rarely miss an important deadline, or forget an important idea.

…And Then There’s Accessories

If you are still on the fence with how amazing the index card truly is, consider all the accessories devoted to index cards and all of the amazing versions. Somewhere, out there, there’s an index card with your name on it… or at least there’s an Italian leather index card holder out there with your name written all over it!

Give the wondrous index card a chance; they are cheap so you don’t lose a bunch of cash on the experiment.

You might find that you love them as much as I do, more importantly… you just might get more done!


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Long-time business owner and entrepreneur, Yolanda brings a unique perspective to building and growing small businesses. Talk with me for 30-minutes, Free, no strings attached! Click here!
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Showing 4 comments
  • John Soares

    Yolanda, I also use 3×5 cards in conjunction with my daily planner.

    I take 3×5 cards with me when I’m heading out to do errands. I also use them when I’m on vacation and don’t have many things I need to keep track of.

    • yolanda

      Yay for index cards! Thanks for sharing, John!

  • Heidi

    I love index cards! One of the best “productivity tools” I ever purchased was a stack of index cards on a binder ring. I tossed that in my purse, and wherever I am I have it handy to capture notes and ideas. And because they’re all connected by that handy little ring, I don’t have to worry about them getting scattered – as things tend to do when you have a toddler 😉

    • yolanda

      The binder ring is a great idea, hadn’t thought of that! Ms. Heidi you are such a smarty-smarty!

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