The 2 Index Card System
2 cards to help you stay focused on the long-term and short-term goals.
The responses to my productivity posts have been overwhelmingly positive. I'll share a few more here from time to time - starting with the two-index card system.
Last year, I started using an index card to write down the three most important things to do each day. I wanted to avoid apps because they led to accidental distraction and context switching.
That system didn't work for me. If I didn't get to something one day, the lists grew and became too much to track. I'd have 5-10 cards lying around with 1 item not scratched out.
Simplicity bred complexity.
But, I did discover two use cases for index cards that have helped my focus and progress on the most critical tasks.
The Goal Card
I write my yearly goals on an index card, which becomes my journal's bookmark. I see it every day first thing.
During my morning routine, when I am determining what needs to be the highlight of the day, I see the goals and can choose one that advances the big focus areas.
I highly encourage you to try this. It's easy to write down goals in January and never look at them again- New Year's Resolutions fail for a reason. Instead, put the goals somewhere you must confront them daily. Are you making progress? Are they the right ones? Answer those questions everyday.
The Anti-Distraction Card
We've all had those moments during our deep work where something comes up, and we go down the Google or Wikipedia rabbit hole.
I place a blank card next to my keyboard whenever I start a block of time to do deep work or process my inbox.
Whenever a question, to-do, or unrelated thought enters my mind, I write it down so I can return to it later. Like my reasoning above, I want to avoid switching to an app to write these down because that's another opportunity for distraction.
I revisit this list at the end of the day and more permanently capture anything that still seems necessary.
As always, keep it simple and actionable. That's the goal with any system: don't overthink it.