Marc Andreesen’s Retrospective

Posted by Beetle B. on Tue 01 January 2019

Taken from Marc Andreesen’s blog (the Archives). Please don’t sue me, Marc.

Each night before you go to bed, prepare a 3x5 index card with a short list of 3 to 5 things that you will do the next day.

And then, the next day, do those things.

I sit down at my desk before I go to sleep, pull up my Todo List (which I keep in Microsoft Word’s outline mode, due to long habit), and pick out the 3 to 5 things I am going to get done tomorrow. I write those things on a fresh 3x5 card, lay the card out with my card keys, and go to bed. Then, the next day, I try like hell to get just those things done. If I do, it was a successful day.

People who have tried lots of productivity porn techniques will tell you that this is one of the most successful techniques they have ever tried.

Once you get into the habit, you start to realize how many days you used to have when you wouldn’t get 3 to 5 important/significant/meaningful things done during a day.

Then, throughout the rest of the day, use the back of the 3x5 card as your Anti-Todo List.

This isn’t a real list. And the name is tongue firmly in cheek.

What you do is this: every time you do something - anything - useful during the day, write it down in your Anti-Todo List on the card.

Each time you do something, you get to write it down and you get that little rush of endorphins that the mouse gets every time he presses the button in his cage and gets a food pellet.

And then at the end of the day, before you prepare tomorrow’s 3x5 card, take a look at today’s card and its Anti-Todo list and marvel at all the things you actually got done that day.

Then tear it up and throw it away.

Another day well spent, and productive.

I love this technique - being able to put more notches on my accomplishment belt, so to speak, by writing down things on my Anti-Todo list as I accomplish them throughout the day makes me feel marvelously productive and efficient. Far more so than if I just did those things and didn’t write them down.

Plus, you know those days when you’re running around all day and doing stuff and talking to people and making calls and responding to emails and filling out paperwork and you get home and you’re completely exhausted and you say to yourself, “What the hell did I actually get done today?”

Your Anti-Todo list has the answer.

By the way, in order to do this, you have to carry a pen with you everywhere you go. I recommend the Fisher Space Pen. It’s short and bullet-shaped so it won’t poke you in the thigh when it’s in your pocket, it’s wonderfully retro, it helped save the Apollo 11 mission, and it writes upside down. What’s not to like?

This article is part of the series on New Year’s Resolutions.