Call me an artifact from the days of yore, but I love, love, love paper to-do lists. While working from home, I’ve tried calendars on my desktop, task-tracking on my iPhone and even setting up somewhat harsh-sounding alerts on my iPad. While I recognized the value in these technological helpers, I ultimately found that nothing beat a page on my basic yellow legal-pad, covered with bullet points, blocky writing and brown rings from the bottom of my coffee mug. Here’s how I optimized my paper task lists and started really getting things done.

1. I started writing lists before I went to bed
Before I started making lists the night before, each evening I would feed my pets, play a little bit of Xbox, and spend the next several hours as wired and anxiety-filled about the next day’s tasks as someone who had just downed several 5-hour energy shots within a four-minute window. Not only did this kill my organization, it ate away at my sleep time, making me tired, cranky and less-than-productive the following day.

However, once I began writing my to-do lists the night before, I could see The Big Picture. I could mentally prepare myself for what had to be done. I could shut my eyes, drift off and know that everything I had to do the next day was contained on a piece of paper. All I needed to do was run through it, cross off each task, and put the leftovers on the new list, and this made a huge difference in how I tackled my duties and how much I got done every single day.

2. I transitioned from crappy cursive to all caps
As a computer fiend with an ever-diminishing amount of writing utensils in my home, my handwriting had gone from easily legible to emergency room doctor. Consequently, I would write task lists, walk away for 10 minutes and come back to a paper that I swore was switched out with one written by a four-year-old.

So my solution was to write tasks in blocky caps. It took a bit of discipline, but I could read exactly what I put down, instead of wondering why I wrote “bring dog to pizza” instead of “finish blog post on the burgeoning relationship between social media and the pygmy goat industry.”

3. I got real with myself about deadlines
The telecommuter formerly known as me, version 1.0, was a world-class planner that listed out so many tasks, that writing out my to-do list was an achievement in itself. “Look at all these awesome things I can finish today!” I’d say each morning, only to deflate like a balloon after sunset when I realized that I only finished six or seven out of my ultra-ambitious list of 160 duties.

After the ego-busting experience of making it through a tiny fraction of each list every day, I had a “Come to Jesus” with myself about what I could honestly finish within a span of 10 or 12 hours. This meant accepting that I was a human being with normal limitations, not a super-computer, a robot, or a professional World of Warcraft Relic Farmer. That in itself removed a lot of pressure associated with my to-do lists, and helped me recognize that I needed to see my task sheets as partially complete rather than almost completely unfinished.

When I streamlined and perfected my task-taking skills, I became calmer, more organized, and a better remote worker. For those of you who live and die by technology and mobile devices – good on you – but I’ll stick with my bullet points, ball-point pen and old-school paper notebook.