Create Mindless Lists to Boost Your Productivity

Can scribbling things down mindlessly actually boost your focus and efficiency?

Today, we’re giving you a surprising productivity hack: the mindless list. Yes, you heard that right! 

We’re looking at the science behind this strategy, 4 benefits of making a mindless list and the playbook how to do it.

A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology titled “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Mind: Reducing Cognitive Load Through Physical List-Making” suggests a powerful link between list-making and cognitive ease. 

Researchers found that writing down tasks, even mundane ones, and whatever other thoughts come to mind while doing it,  frees up mental space and reduces cognitive load.

This, in turn, improves focus, memory, and overall productivity.

So, what qualifies as a “mindless list”?

It’s not about creating a meticulous project plan unless that comes to mind while doing it, And  “mindless” doesn’t necessarily mean “not important” 

This exercise is about jotting down anything that occupies your mental space, from errands to chores, to-do items, or even random thoughts. 

By externalizing these mental burdens, you create clarity and free your mind to tackle more demanding tasks.

Here 4 benefits you get from creating mindless lists:

  1. Reduced Stress: Mindless lists help you offload anxieties and gain a sense of control. Seeing tasks written down can ease stress and improve your overall well-being.

  2. Improved Focus: By clearing your mental RAM, you free up attention for deep work. No more bouncing between thoughts – the list holds them for later now you don’t have to stress about remembering them and this, allows you to focus on the task at hand.
  3. Enhanced Memory: We all forget things. Mindless lists act as external reminders, boosting your memory and preventing missed tasks.

  4. Motivation Boost: Crossing off items, even small ones, is surprisingly satisfying and will give you a dopamine boost. This sense of accomplishment fuels motivation and propels you forward.

Here’s how to do some mindless list making…

At the onset of feeling overwhelmed or not being able to concentrate because of what seems like 100 things you have to do that are racing through your mind.


Get out your notebook, or if it’s not with you, get a scrap piece of paper and start writing a list of things you’re thinking about that you have to do. 

Writing in your own handwriting is recommended, but if you’re a digital person make a list in your notes app or whatever you use.

To prevent that onset of anxiety that hits the best of us, each morning before you open that email, text or get rolling with your work, if you haven’t already, jot down what is on your mind. If you already have a list, review it. Just this simple exercise will help you get started on the right foot each day.

Put this exercise to work today. you’ll surprise yourself how much better mindless list making makes you feel. 

Your move.

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