Get in touch

Postlight joins Launch by NTT DATA! Learn more.

There’s nothing better than crossing something off your to-do list. This week Chris and Gina reflect on which tools are best for organizing your life and your to-do list. Their conclusion — analog is best. Gina breaks down why her bullet journal is the best option for her and why digital lists will never be as effective as writing things down on paper. 


Gina Trapani: I am the mom who put family Mario Kart racing on the weekend to-do list. I dunno, I feel like there’s something… there’s probably something wrong with that scenario.

Chris LoSacco: (Laughs)

Gina: I said, “Mm, maybe I should…” (Laughs)

Chris: (Laughs)


Chris: Hello,  and welcome to the Postlight podcast. I am Chris LoSacco, the president of Postlight, and I am joined, as always, by my partner in this business, the CEO of Postlight, Gina Trapani. Gina…

Gina: Hey, Chris.

Chris: How are you?

Gina: I’m doin’ okay. It’s been a week of a lot of things. A lot of things. And I had to really flex my muscles this week to sort of manage all the things.

Chris: We’re gonna talk about that.

Gina: We’re gonna talk about that!

Chris: Because aren’t all the weeks weeks with a lot of things?

Gina: We covered this.

Chris: Yes.

Gina: All… this week, man. This week. (Laughs)

Chris: Right.

Gina: We talked about this.

Chris: So, we have talked about setting and holding boundaries, and that’s really important. But we also need to talk about, when there’s a lot of things, you need to have a system and you need to get organized. And we alluded to how important it is to prioritize when you’ve got a very long list, and just acknowledge that things aren’t gonna happen when they get to the bottom of the list, and that’s okay. But we didn’t really talk about how to do it. 

Gina: Yeah.

Chris: Like, how do you get yourself in the right headspace, where you’ve got the list that you feel good about? And I know that, you know, we talk all day every day, but I know you’ve got some particular thoughts and some particular systems that you’ve developed over the years, and we should dive in. Because I think this is interesting, like, what… how do you get your head on straight when you think about doing all the things that you have to do?

Gina: Yes. I mean, I spent a good part of my career writing about, like, personal productivity and systems, and this is my go-to…

Chris: Mhm.

Gina: But you know, someone asked me recently what I thought was important leadership skills… or, no, it was actually what books have affected, like, have made the biggest impact on your career, and I found myself going to David Allen’s Getting Things Done…

Chris: Of course, yep.

Gina: Which is a seminal work on, just, like, managing all the inputs, right?

Chris: Yes. You’ve got the inbox, and you’ve got a way to process it, and you’ve got… yeah.

Gina: Yeah. Trusted system, inbox. I mean, it’s the trifecta, right? It’s like, inbox, calendar and to-do list. Right? Like, that’s the trifecta.

Chris: That’s the trifecta. 

Gina: And part of the reason why you and I work together so well is that we are both, like, we live by the calendar. The calendar kind of… we split things up that way.

Chris: Yep. We have a shared inbox.

Gina: We keep lists, we share an inbox. Yes. We have individual inboxes, shared inboxes. But you know, it’s funny, I was thinking about… like, something that my parents taught me that I didn’t realize that they were teaching me… (laughs)… at the time, and didn’t recognize how important it was until I was an adult… So, my mom was a public school teacher.

Chris: Mhm.

Gina: So part of her job is, like, teaching kids how to get their homework planner together…

Chris: Sure.

Gina: And be held accountable for getting work done, right?

Chris: Yep.

Gina: And so she was… and she was a master at using pen and paper to do this, right? I mean, I’m gonna date myself, this was the ‘80s, there were no computers back then.

Chris: Mhm.

Gina: So, I just remember during the course of home life as a kid, you know, watching my parents, particularly my mom, go through these rituals to get things done. And they were visible, because they were… they were physical things. So, some examples. She had, you know, Sunday night she dealt with bills. She paid bills. So she had a file, and the bills were organized, the paper bills were organized in reverse-chronological order. So that Sunday, she would pull the bills off the top of the pile that were due that week, write the cheques, put them in the envelopes, put the stamps on them and like, set them by the door to take them to the mailbox the next morning.

Chris: Were you part of the process? Or you were just aware that it  was happening?

Gina: I would just… it was Sunday night, when I wandered through the living room and my mom was sitting at one particular end of the couch with her feet up…

Chris: She had her folder out. Got it, okay.

Gina: With the folder out. Yeah, right? And the checkbook. She also, she had this, she had to use these index cards, and she would plan out the meals for the week… so there was one night that was grocery shopping. That, I would go with her and… you know, when I was really little she would, like, put me in the cart. But she had this index card and she would draw the boxes for the whole seven days of the week. She would write what meal we were going to eat.

Chris: Mhm.

Gina: And then it would sit kind of in front of the knife holder in the kitchen. And so, in the morning… she was a teacher, she had to go to work, she had to hustle us all off to school. She would look at the index card, and pull out whatever had to be defrosted out of the freezer, stick it on the stove, and then when she got home later it would be ready to make.

Chris: There you go.

Gina: And that was just part of, you know, her process.

Chris: Right.

Gina: And it’s funny, you know… as an adult, I think a lot about the fact that because… particularly mobile apps kinda mediate all these things… like, if I’m doing meal planning or looking up a recipe, I mean, she also had her cookbooks and her recipe books. I’m tapping a piece of glass. And if I’m paying bills, I’m tapping a piece of glass.

Chris: (Laughs)

Gina: And if I’m scheduling… if I’m texting with a friend to schedule dinner, I’m tapping a piece of glass.

Chris: Yep.

Gina: We also had a family, paper family calendar. Like, up on the kitchen…

Chris: Oh, we did too, yeah.

Gina: And we looked at it together, and you could see what was coming up. That is tapping on a piece of glass. So, I sometimes worry that my kid sees me tapping on a piece of glass and can’t distinguish.

Chris: Mhm.

Gina: And sometimes she’ll be like, “What are you doing?” And I’ll be like “I’m sending a message to your aunt,” or “I’m paying a bill,” or whatever it is. But the fact that those… that I could observe my mom doing those things with pen and paper, and having like files and calendars and an inbox, you know, an in-tray, like we’ve processed mail a certain way, really influenced… like, “Oh, this is how, you know…” (Laughs) “This is how this works.” I took to the homework planner and all those things… did you have any of this stuff when you were a kid? Like, did you…

Chris: I mean, when you said shared family calendar hanging up on our refrigerator door, I immediately pictured our family calendar in my head.

Gina: Mhm.

Chris: So that was very much a part of, you know, life growing up. You know, I do remember some physical things. I think I remember seeing my dad, like on Sunday mornings, where he would go downstairs and handle some of these things. Although some of them were, like, you know, half-analog, half-digital, and you would be shredding paper as you were doing something on the computer.

Gina: Mhm.

Chris: But I completely agree that now it’s all the same, and what… it’s so funny, because what I think is missed… part of it is the observability of it. Right?

Gina: Yes.

Chris: Because you can’t distinguish, right? Someone’s just looking at their phone or their computer screen, and unless you’re also looking at it with them, you don’t know what they’re doing. Whether it’s paying a bill, or…

Gina: TikTok, or…

Chris: Looking at Instagram. Right.

Gina: Right, exactly. (Laughs)

Chris: But there’s another aspect, which is that there is a satisfaction, let’s say, to dealing with something in the physical world. Like, being able to look at that bill and write that check, and then move that bill to, you know, the paid folder, or shred it and put it in the garbage can, and it’s like, that is done. And there’s a finality to it, and there’s a, you know, “I accomplished these things.” And it’s just not the same digitally.

Gina: That’s right.

Chris: You spend 45 minutes, like, handling life admin stuff on the computer, and then you’re like, you know, “I guess I kind of feel good that those things got done?” But it’s not, you know… you don’t get the same… there’s a deeper thing in our brains, where it’s like…

Gina: Yes.

Chris: That, you know, I really did it because I could see it in the world, in the physical world. You know?

Gina: I will never get the satisfaction of tapping glass to check a check box as I do taking a pen and crossing out…

Chris: That’s exactly it.

Gina: …something on a piece of paper.

Chris: Yes.

Gina: I am a huge list person. It’s not an intention, or it’s not real, unless I’ve written it down. And I went deep, deep on digital to-do lists.

Chris: Yeah.

Gina: So I… this is years ago. I spent, like, ten years… I developed this open-source standard for…

Chris: Todo.txt

Gina: Yeah, todo.txt, which was both machine-readable and human-readable, and involved priorities and contexts and projects and due dates, and entry dates, and I developed a suite of apps that could read those things, and I had this giant file called todo.txt. And anytime I had a thought about something that I wanted to do, or a dream… everything went into the todo.txt. Someday-maybes, absolutely-have-tos. I mean, just short of like, take a shower and eat breakfast, you know?

Chris: (Laughs) Yep.

Gina: Everything went into this todo text file. And then I had a done.txt file, right? So when you marked something as done it moved into this other file. And I was, like, really proud of it! I used to, for just years and years it got thousands of lines long. But it got to a point where I was like, “This file is just a pile of bits and bytes. It is a monument to a set of past intentions.” I added stuff… you know, at a faster pace then I’d check stuff off. It got to a point where it wasn’t reflective of my actual day-to-day life, because I never really pruned it. I never really had to, right?

Chris: Interesting. Right.

Gina: A digital file just can grow and grow and grow, there’s no limit, right, to how much you can do.

Chris: There’s no consequence. That’s right.

Gina: There’s no consequence. And I realized that I hated working on it, because it felt… being at the computer, or like having to manage it from my phone felt like work, and I wanted to feel like, you know, this is a place where I can dream, and put down intentions and clarify in my head what it is I actually have to do. So, I… after like ten years of working on this open source project, I finally was like “I’m gonna try something different.” I read about bullet journaling…

Chris: Mm.

Gina: Which is, if you… I think it’s It’s a great story. There’s this designer named Ryder Carroll, who, to develop this… I mean, it’s just a system for writing things down in a notebook. (Laughs)

Chris: Well…

Gina: But he, you know, he talks about, he has… you know, he struggled with ADHD, and he struggled with focus and executive functioning, and this just ability to organize himself and what was in front of him each day, and so he developed this system, right?

Chris: Yeah.

Gina: To write down events and tasks. And, you know, I was like… basically, what you do is, each day you write a page. And you write down your tasks. Like, the things that are most important that you have to do. And it seems really inefficient. Like, for someone like me who loves efficiency, and loved the idea of like, invoking an Alfred workflow, and just shooting off, you know, a task to my… just shelving something really quickly, the idea of having to get a pen and carry a physical notebook, and this idea that I could lose it or it could get set on fire, or someone else could read it…

Chris: (Laughs) Yep.

Gina: …or it wasn’t backed up to my Dropbox.

Chris: Yep.

Gina: That I’d have to, you know, like have ink and a pen… you know, all the things.

Chris: All the things.

Gina: Like, it seemed bananas. But I was also like, I just wanna try something different. I wanna, like, organize myself a little bit better. Because I feel just, sort of, overwhelmed and depressed because I’m never gonna get all these things done, and I’m just gonna declare to-do list bankruptcy, and try this system. This was, like, in February of 2018. And it’s been… (Laughs)

Chris: Five years. 

Gina: It’s been five years, and I’ve got a shelf full of my bullet journals. Like, full of, you know, of my day-to-day. And I write down the events for the day, so I’m literally copying from my calendar, and then, like, it’s usually three or four tasks that are really important.

Chris: For the day.

Gina: For the day. It’s been so good. Now, I love just like the tactile feeling… I got myself a fancy pen that I love. I love notebooks. I love that feeling of pen on paper. So it’s like, a… it’s like a break, it’s like a luxury, and I can turn away from the computer or screen and have this moment. It feels… there’s an intimacy to it. It’s like my notebook, you know? (Laughs)

Chris: Yes, completely.

Gina: Yeah.

Chris: I think this is not, like, a small detail about this. This is, you’re getting at the core of why I think this kind of move is so effective. Because there… it does feel like a break. It does feel like, I’m doing something that is very intentional, and very focused, because I don’t have 13 other windows…

Gina: That’s right.

Chris: That are, you know, staring at me and competing for my attention. I don’t have notifications popping in that are looking to steal my eyeballs away. I am sitting down. And even just the act of writing is…

Gina: Yes.

Chris: It’s different than typing, right? 

Gina: Yes.

Chris: It is… I mean, you are literally using different muscles when you do that, but the way that your brain approaches something like that, they’re very different! Like, neurologically. You know, you are… you’re exercising different parts of your brain.

Gina: Yes.

Chris: And so, it makes complete sense to me, and I very much have the same kinds of feelings when I do something tactile, is like, oh, I’m like, lighting up new pathways…

Gina: Yes.

Chris: And new parts. And it feels good, it feels different, it feels like I get some space from looking at the piece of glass, like you were saying, that we spend so much of our lives looking at. I mean, we’re technology professionals, like, you know, we look at a computer screen for nine hours a day. And it’s like, and then we look at our phones.

Gina: Right.

Chris: And so, being able to separate from that a minute, and say “We want to change how we are thinking about this, and in order to change you have to change the medium.”

Gina: Absolutely. Like, my time with my notebook in the morning, when I’m like “Okay, what am I going to do?” It feels like a break.

Chris: Yeah.

Gina: It doesn’t feel like work. And it also, because you’ve got these other muscles and because you have to write this thing down, it makes you think about… “Do I need to go to this meeting? Is that really the most important thing today?” ‘Cause you’re…

Chris: You have that moment where you have to write it down. Yeah.

Gina: The act of copying it, yeah. The act of copying it makes you, for me, writing anything, typing or writing, like settles it in my brain. Like, I fully comprehend it.

Chris: Same for me, yeah.

Gina: But it also makes me go, like, “Is this important?” And then there’s… everybody bullet journals a little bit differently, but part of the, sort of the canonical method, I really took on, which is that at the end of the month you make a new spread, which is the two pages, and you make your new-month spread. But then you go back to the month before, and every item that you haven’t checked off or note that you haven’t, like, put wherever you normally keep your notes, whether that’s in the journal or whatever. You have to go through and decide.

Chris: Pull them forward?

Gina: You either decide “This is important enough to pull forward. I still want to do this and it’s important enough to pull forward.” Or, “This isn’t relevant anymore,” or “I did it and just didn’t check it off.” That never happens to me because I love checking things off, nothing brings me more joy.

Chris: (Laughs)

Gina: (Laughs) But that decision between “pull forward” or “decide not to do,” it’s so important. There’s so much stuff that I’m just like, this just isn’t important anymore.

Chris: Right.

Gina: This just isn’t important to me. And this was the thing that was really missing from my to-do, my long, long to-do list.

Chris: Your digital world.

Gina: Yes! I didn’t have a moment in time that was sort of forced into, like, the format of the thing… Like, I love my notebook and I want to keep it clean and I want to get the months… like, you have to close the month. (Laughs)

Chris: Yeah!

Gina: When I switch over to next month.

Chris: Right.

Gina: It’s so… because it makes you realize, like, “This isn’t important anymore.” Or, “The thing that I write down is a little bit different now. So let me re-say what this is.” And there’s also this moment, too, where you’re like “Why did three weeks pass and I didn’t do this? ‘Cause it maybe wasn’t important.”

Chris: Mm.

Gina: If three weeks went by and I didn’t do it, it clearly didn’t bite me, and like, wasn’t important. So, like, that conversation we had about how there’s always gonna be more things to do than you have time to do… Like, it forces you to sort of confront that. Like, “You know what? I have this intention, this is something I’d like to…” You know, there’s like that, wants and needs. Like, I want to do this, but do I need to do it? Probably not. And so it forces you to prune.

Chris: It forces you to prune. The process and the… I mean, the analog nature of it is forcing you to do something that we recognize is really important for busy leaders, which is…

Gina: Yes.

Chris: You have to take an analytical, almost like critical view of your schedule and your list.

Gina: Yep.

Chris: And say “Let’s make sure that I am not, like, squandering my precious time that I have to spend with my colleagues,” or work with our clients, or whatever the case may be. The act of having to do this sweep, this monthly sweep, is forcing you to have that… you know, those moments of… I was going to say “self-critical”… (Laughs) You know, but that’s not what I mean.

Gina: Right.

Chris: Like, analyze yourself. And analyze your own prioritization process, your own decision making about what made it onto the list.

Gina: That’s important.

Chris: You know? And what’s important? And all… there’s like, a little bit of data that you learn there, right?

Gina: Yes.

Chris: That you can then apply going forward. And I know for a fact that there are times when you will come in, and we’ll be checking in about, you know, the month ahead, and you’re like, “Hey, I had a thought. Like, we don’t need to go to this kind of meeting going forward.”

Gina: (Laughs)

Chris: Or, like, “Hey, you know, we really tried to prioritize X, and I don’t think… we don’t need to do as much of that going… you know, in the coming month.” I think it is a direct result of doing this kind of process.

Gina: It’s kind of a constant shedding. I realized that I had just, like… put so much on my, you know, thousand-line list, and I was so depressed about… it just became this shame pile of stuff that I meant to do but never…

Chris: Mm. Yeah.

Gina: But just because you decide that you want to do something at some point doesn’t mean… like, those are commitments that you make to yourself, but you can let yourself out of those commitments. Not only with yourself, but also with other people. Because…

Chris: Right.

Gina: Every day is a new day, and you have new priorities, and like, you know, the agenda changes, and your view changes.

Chris: Exactly. Exactly. 

Gina: The other tasks that are really interesting, and I know you will relate to this, ‘cause I know you, like me, you snooze email threads that you have to deal with later…

Chris: Mhm.

Gina: The task that I write forward multiple months… (Laughs) Like, okay.

Chris: Yep.

Gina: “I’ve written this now, four times. It’s been four months.”

Chris: “What’s going on here?”

Gina: I’m really not ready to let it go. 

Chris: Yeah.

Gina: What about this is so dreadful that I don’t want to do it? What am I trying to actually do here? What is, like, the first step?

Chris: Yeah.

Gina: Like, can I unpack this? Like, you know, I had this one on my list that was like, you know, “More client outreach.” That’s a terrible task, by the way.

Chris: (Laughs) Oh…

Gina: There’s nothing specific or actionable about that.

Chris: No. Yeah, that’s not good.

Gina: Like, that’s a different… And I carried it forward, and I felt some guilt and shame about it, and I was like “Okay, wait. Why don’t I send an email to this…”

Both: “Particular person…”

Gina: “This week.” Right?

Chris: Yeah.

Gina: And there’s a difference between a practice and a habit versus, like, a one-time task. I don’t mean to get deep. But the whole point of, like, the process, which feels like a lot of time… and it’s funny. My little… my little one was like “Oh, mama’s writing in her notebook again.”

Chris: (Laughs)

Gina: Which is so funny, ‘cause I realized that she was observing me. But I was like, okay! I’d rather she observe me writing in my notebook…

Chris: Yes. Than tapping on your phone. Right.

Gina: Than tapping on glass. Yes, yes. But it makes you really think it through. So I… I got my kid her own notebook, and we started… so, we made this list. (Laughs)

Chris: Oh, that’s great!

Gina: Yeah, at the beginning of the weekend we’re like “What do we want to do this weekend?” And I made this list of, like, things that we could do. And it was stuff like, you know, we could take a bath! We could do family Mario Kart racing! Like, we could go get a hot chocolate down the street. And they were suggestions in my mind, and then Monday morning came, and she was like eating her breakfast, she had to go to school, and she looked at the list, which was still sitting on the kitchen table, and she was like “Mm. We didn’t do the family Mario Kart racing. We gotta get that done.”

Chris: (Laughs)

Gina: “That’s gonna have to happen tonight. We didn’t get that done.” And I was like, “Oh no…” (Laughs)

Chris: I love it. I love it.

Gina: “That was a possible fun activity for the weekend!” But she took it very seriously, and we had to get that done. (Laughs) We had to get family Mario Kart Racing…

Chris: That’s incredible.

Gina: There’s probably some reframing I could do there.

Chris: I want to go back to something you said before, which is the satisfying physical aspects of it, too. Like, choosing a, like a pen that you really like, and a notebook that you…

Gina: Mhm.

Chris: And I do think there is a little bit of a digital analogue there, a little bit.

Gina: Yeah.

Chris: Because, you’re never going to get the same satisfaction that you get in the physical world. Like, again, I just think there’s a biological reason behind that, that you’re not gonna… it’s too high a hurdle to jump over. But I do think, you know, something that I certainly think about when I look at interfaces, and I think we try to tell our teams to think about, is: how do you look for those moments of satisfaction or delight when people are using a digital product, that can get at that same kind of feeling? Even if you’re only approximating it. And, you know, those are the kinds of digital experiences that feel so good, and get the closest to reinforcing, I think, these kinds of usage patterns, where you want to reach for it because it feels like a break, because it feels like…

Gina: Yeah.

Chris: “Okay, this is something where I, you know, have some space and I can think a little bit,” even if you’re only getting halfway there because you’re still looking at a screen. So, that’s really interesting to me, and really fascinating, is to take cues for how we can do really great design work by looking at what feels really good physically. And, you know, translating those kinds of things as best we can. Even if they’re only, again, like, a facsimile. You still get some of that same satisfaction, you know what I mean?

Gina: Yeah, I really think that when it comes down to it, like, a great well-designed tool that’s there to help you think or get something done, it makes the right thing to do the easy thing to do. You know what I mean?

Chris: Totally. 

Gina: Like, it gets you in the right brain space, it meets you where you are, it helps you… you know, so, like, I spend probably a stupid amount of money on fancy notebooks. I have a lot of opinions about notebooks now, like it has to be dotted and it has to be a certain size and I want the page numbers, you know, on the pages already…

Chris: Mhm.

Gina: And I want the certain… like, when I hold that notebook I wanna, like, love it and feel like, oh, I’m so happy I’m gonna have this time with this thing.

Chris: Totally.

Gina: And this is that kind of feeling, you know, when you open up that app or platform, whether you’re, you know, employee or the customer or just somebody interacting with… you want to get that feeling, like “Oh, I’m home. This is a good place.”

Chris: Exactly.

Gina: “I know where to go to do the thing I need to do. This thing understands me, and everything feels right here.”

Chris: Everything feels right. Versus dreading having to, you know…

Gina: To deal with a certain thing.

Chris: To deal with it.

Gina: (Laughs) Yeah. Exactly. 

Chris: Let me ask you one more question about your process, when you copy over the list and when you make things… like, are you also thinking about “These are the things that I need to do first?” Or “These are the things that I least want to do, and so I’m going to do those up front?”

Gina: Yeah.

Chris: Or like, is there a process behind making the list, rather than just copying things over? And culling, which is really important?

Gina: On a daily basis… I’m a big “eat the frog” person. Like, do… you know, worst first.

Chris: Worst first. Yep.

Gina: Like, just take that… that dreadful task, the one that… this is why it’s so good to get that awareness, of like, “Oh, I’ve copied this over a bunch of times, I’m really going out of my way to avoid this,” or like, “I feel bad when I look at this thing that’s undone.”

Chris: Mhm.

Gina: You know, that’s good data to have, right? So I would, if it’s a work thing and it’s a work day, and I have some time, like, I would try to get that over with. It’s hard to tackle a dreadful task, but if you do it first in the morning… like, we’ve talked about this, I’m definitely more fresh and optimistic in the morning.

Chris: Mhm.

Gina: So I’m much more likely to send a hard email or have a… you know, whatever the task is. I try to load up the hard stuff up front, and then at the end of the day it’s like “Okay, I can clean out my inbox,” like, or, “file my expenses,” like, I try to… (Laughs) On the energy spectrum, I try to organize things that way.

Chris: Right. Well, it’s easier when you’re sort of on the downhill to table some of those easy things.

Gina: Yeah, it’s easier… that’s right. That’s right. Yeah.

Chris: You’re not gonna tackle one of the hard things when you’re, you know, at the last 10% of your energy level.

Gina: A thing that I do do on the weekends, especially weekends that I have time, you know, I’ll make a… my list will be too long. The reality is, and this is maybe a sad realization I’ve had to come to, but especially on a workday when there’s so many meetings, you really can only tackle three to four meaty tasks, you know, in a given day.

Chris: That’s crazy, you know?

Gina: It’s crazy, ‘cause it feels… I mean, now, a meeting, you can consider a meeting a task, you know.

Chris: Right.

Gina: But like, it’s not that much.

Chris: I know.

Gina: So, like, there are times when I look at my list and go, “I know this is too long, I’m not gonna get all of these done.” So, the bullet journal method, there’s a way… each task is a bullet, it’s just a dot. There’s a way that you can put an asterisk next to the ones that are important. So on the days when I’m like “This list is too long and I’m just not gonna tackle all these…” Like, it’s going beyond the page…

Chris: Yeah.

Gina: And I just, I know myself now, like it’s… maybe Agile story points is a bad metaphor. But you just, you start to get a sense of, like, how much I can actually do in a day. Then I go through and do the asterisk on one or two things. And then if I… if I just check off the asterisk tasks? (Laughs)

Chris: Success.

Gina: Success. 

Chris: Yeah.

Gina: I did it. I did it. Good.

Chris: Yep.

Gina: Tomorrow, I have a fresh new page. (Laughs) 

Chris: Right.

Gina: And I’m gonna start there. It doesn’t mean I’m automatically copying everything down from the day… I’m just like, “Alright.” And this is, this is the other thing. Starting with the blank page each day…

Chris: It’s so helpful.

Gina: Being like, “This is a new day, and I am a new person, and I have a new agenda.”

Chris: Yeah.

Gina: Like, “We’re gonna start here.” 

Chris: Right. 

Gina: Has been really good, like a good shift in thinking for me. Because if I get on the computer, I see all the stuff undone from yesterday, I see the email, I see, you know, the notifications start coming in, I start… and it’s… and then I’m lost. Then I’m reacting, versus setting my own…

Chris: Yeah.

Gina: …kind of agenda.

Chris: You’re making such a good point. That’s something I haven’t cracked yet, because I… I really like working analog and I like writing things down also, but I don’t have a system like the one you’re describing, and so one of the downsides is just this. Like, I wake up in the morning and I am confronted with all the things all at once. Basically. And that blank sheet of paper feeling is precious, you know?

Gina: Yeah.

Chris: And it’s hard when you don’t have that moment. I think that’s one of the huge upsides of doing it in a physical notebook.

Gina: Yeah.

Chris: Because you… I mean, you can literally have that blank sheet of paper that you are looking at. It’s so freeing. It’s such a stark, tangible new reminder that this is a new day.

Gina: Yes.

Chris: And you get to decide what you are doing with this day. You don’t have to inherit all the baggage from yesterday. (Laughs)

Gina: All the baggage from yesterday. Yes, and the last three years. This is the thing. It gives you that moment to listen to your inner compass. Because on any given morning I can wake up and be like, “I’m worried about this thing, I really wanna get… I’m excited about that thing.” You know? “This is the thing I’m still thinking about from yesterday.” Like, I always was just like “Oh, my todo.txt, my to-do list, is my outboard brain, you know, it’s not real unless I write it down.” But the reality is that anybody’s brain…(Laughs) You know what I mean? Like, we have this conversation all the time. 

Chris: Yeah.

Gina: Like, “Okay, what are the top three things you’re worried about?” I’m like, “One, two, three.”  

Chris: Right.

Gina: Like, there’s, you know, the most important things. So when you have that moment to say “I’m gonna set my agenda for today,” you can listen to your inner compass. “This feels like a fire. I need to go here.” 

Chris: Yeah.

Gina: “I need to go here.” And feel that from, internally. Versus the ten people who are pulling you in all those other directions. I think is just so important, not only for your own sort of sense of, you know, sanity and wholeness, but for your team and your org and your project.

Chris: That’s right.

Gina: You know, you gotta listen to that inner voice.

Chris: That’s right.

Gina: Get ahead of risk. Get excited about the next thing that’s gonna ship, you know?

Chris: Totally.

Gina: All those things.

Chris: Right. It’s very hard to get excited if you’re…

Gina: If you’re reacting to a bunch of inputs.

Chris: Well, and if you’re just looking at the very long list. And, you know, yeah, okay, there’s some satisfaction in checking off a digital item, but it’s just not… that’s not really what’s going to get people going. Like, what’s going to get people going is when you connect to the, you know, something that is motivating. And if you’re not taking a moment to ground yourself in that, then you’re not gonna go in to your day excited.

Gina: So, I’m a technologist through and through. But I write… I write things… (Laughs) I write my to-do list in a notebook. (Laughs) And it works for me. And that doesn’t mean it works for everybody. Like, not everybody would operate the same way. But I think it’s good for, you know, everyone to just… First, you know, don’t just assume that this is the way that everybody should do anything at any given time. 

Chris: Yep.

Gina: And to use tools that you really love. And to… you know, give your brain that space to enjoy, you know, figuring out what’s next for you. I think that mental space, and giving that… you know, following that inner pull is so important. Especially for leaders who are overwhelmed.

Chris: So well-said. I think that’s a perfect place to end it. If you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, “I want some of that, I would love to hear how that could apply to my world,” or maybe you’ve got your own system that you want to tell us about…

Gina: Yes.

Chris: Or your own way that you take a break from the digital world and organize yourself and get your head on straight before you go into your busy work life, we would love to hear about it. Please reach out, We love getting those emails.

Gina: We really do.

Chris: And we would love to talk to you about anything you’ve got on your mind. Gina, thank you for taking us through your bullet journal world. 

Gina: Thank you for indulging me.

Chris: (Laughs)

Gina: (Laughs)

Chris: And we will be back at you next week. Thanks so much.

Gina: Thanks, everyone.

Chris: Bye.