The Benefits Of Using Lists And Notes Every Day

If you don’t have an ongoing to-do list, your business is probably going to fail. While that may sound dramatic, I’m serious. Trying to build a profitable business – or even lead an efficient life – is nearly impossible without using lists and making (mostly random) notes.

My family has always lovingly laughed at my Dad because he keeps a small piece of paper in his front pocket. Every morning, he makes a list and crosses things off as he does them. If he doesn’t get something done, it moves to the next day’s list.

While this is super old school and there are way better ways to do it now, it works for him and it’s light years better than no list at all.

Let’s talk about the benefits of using lists, how to use them in a way that works for you, and some of the best tools out there.

Table of Contents

Why You Should Keep A To-Do List

If you’re apprehensive to keep a list or, perhaps, you think it’s a waste of time… well, it’s not. Let’s go over the main benefits of using lists here.

Eliminates A Vague Overwhelmed Feeling

When I’m not keeping a list of things to do, I always feel this incredibly annoying, vague sense of being overwhelmed. It’s because our minds operate more efficiently when we have a very clear order of what needs to be done.

By creating a visual, ordered list, it makes all of these unclear feelings tangible – and, therefore, doable. If you’re not using lists already, literally create one right now and see what I’m talking about.

It will get rid of that gross and nagging feeling that there’s way too much on your plate.

Clearly States What Needs Accomplished

How can you achieve your goals if you haven’t even defined your goals? You can’t.

Don’t use a list to write down large goals like “become a millionaire by the age of 40.” Use your daily list for just that – your daily objectives. What do you need to finish today? What do you want to finish today?

Even if you’re including things like “do the laundry,” that’s totally fine. There aren’t really any rules here; just use what works for you. My lists often look something like:

  • Amazon fresh order
  • Finish article on making lists
  • Check prices on new tires
  • Look into new lighting for YouTube setup

While you can do this way more efficiently than I am (more on that soon), this works for me.

Increases How Quickly You Finish Tasks

While I don’t have any studies on this, making lists undoubtedly leads to completing tasks quicker. In fact, crossing items off of your list actually becomes addicting, which breeds productivity and ultimately success.

Provides A Sense Of Satisfaction

Similarly, it’s just really satisfying to finish anything. Whether it’s a race, a load of laundry, an article about making lists, or anything else, it just feels really good to complete a task, put it behind you, and get that quick dopamine hit.

How Using Notes Can Lead To Success

There are hundreds of articles on making to-do lists, but not that many on keeping random notes. This is something I’ve done for nearly 20 years.

I’ve had a notepad file on my desktop that, for some reason, is called temp.txt. I don’t know why or when I created it, but it evolve dinto a file where I literally write any random idea that comes to me. As cell phone technology improved and they became a part of our lives, I also use my iPhone’s Notes app.

When you’re striving to be successful, your mind is constantly drifting to ideas pertaining to it. When these ideas spark, you have to capture them immediately before they’re gone forever.

I use Notes for two primary things:

Content Ideas

Nearly every article on this site so far has come to me during my morning walk with my dog. When an article idea comes to me, I pull out my phone and type it into Notes. The idea doesn’t have to be perfect at all.

This ensures that 1. I won’t forget and 2. I always have a big list of content ideas when I sit down to actually write.

In all of my businesses, I’ve always used temp.txt to keep a ton of random links to random content ideas. There have been countless times that I’ve circled back to an idea that sat there for months, and it became a viral success.

Random Thoughts

While content ideas are somewhat clearer, I constantly find myself writing random thoughts or questions that come to me. Not everyone is cursed (blessed?) with a continuous stream of questioning everything, but I am, and some of these really strange thoughts have led to big ideas.

  • I’m going to look at my Notes right now and list a few here:
  • Take one day and write about anything.
  • What finance gurus aren’t telling you.
  • The emptiness of Twitter is destroying our motivation.
  • What do experts really mean when they say “anyone can do it?”
  • The dark irony of trying to get rich.

Half of these probably don’t even make sense to you and, honestly, some don’t even make sense to me. But when I get these random thoughts coming to me – and revisit them later – it tends to spark either new content ideas or just continues to challenge my way of thinking.

So, keep random thoughst and questions that come to you. Don’t be that annoying person who is always saying, “I thought of something earlier but now I can’t remember.”

The Best Apps For Making To-Do Lists

Like I said above, I use Notepad and Notes for all of my lists. But, because that is admittedly not the best way to do it, here are the two best ones I found.


After doing some research, I’m actually going to use Evernote moving forward. It’s actually pretty awesome and way more versatile than my boomer methods. It’s nice to keep it all in one place across all devices. There’s a free version, but I’ll probably get the $9.99/mo plan.

Microsoft OneNote

Dubbed “your digital notebook,” OneNote appears to be Microsoft’s answer to Evernote. It’s actually really good as well and free.


Without making lists and keeping notes, you’re relying on your memory to magically organize and keep track of what you need to do every day. As impressive as the human brain is, this just isn’t efficient enough to run your business or your life.

I would go as far as to say, without these practices, I wouldn’t have had any success at all. Ensuring that I’m completing tasks all the while jotting down random ideas that ultimately became very real pay days is vitally important. Make lists and notes an ongoing part of your day, and you’ll undoubtedly see the rewards.

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Scott DeLong

I'm an introvert who has built and sold multiple companies for millions of dollars - without funding or employees. I've been featured in BusinessWeek, Business Insider, Fortune, Inc, and more. I hope you find my site helpful to your own entrepreneurial journey. If you need help with your site, you can get unlimited consulting from me.