I recently discovered my love of lists to actually get things done in my life--both personally and professionally. I thought I'd share my experience using them as a productivity tool and a tip that has really helped.
I use Wunderlist because it's simple enough to do what I need, and has some great native apps. Actually, I especially love them because of their native apps--they aren't just apps written in Adobe Air and made to look like native apps (looking at you Rdio, Pandora, Balsamiq, LINE,...).
When I first started using lists to track all my work, I made the mistake of putting them all into a single list based on a general category. For example, I'd have a "work" list, which would encompass literally everything I had to do for work. The problem with that? 1) it's hard to see the category break down across multiple projects and more importantly, 2) psychologically, looking at a list of 100 items trying to do 1 thing is so much worse and less rewarding than 10 lists of 10 items, trying to do 1 thing.
There's some great research around % completion and how much we value seeing bigger progress. One of them was a marketing study with loyalty cards. They gave two groups a loyalty card for coffee--One had 10 slots, and the consumer would start off with 0 stickers and need 10 more to get a coffee. The other card had 12 slots, and the consumer started off with 2 stickers already (they'd say it was a bonus for getting the card that you got "two free stickers").
In both scenarios, the consumer still had to come back 10 times to get their free coffee. However, the result was that those with the starting two stickers actually came back significantly more (and completed their 10 purchases) than those that started with 0. Why? We love to see progress--and the more we see, even if it's simulated, the more we're likely to finish it.
So my pro-tip for people who are list makers (who don't already do this) is to split up your lists as much as possible. In the picture above, I've split up my apps into discrete lists--iOS versions, Mac versions, different apps, different sub projects, etc. Each of these has several items to do but the reward for doing them is much higher. I can see progress being made on many fronts, instead of just seeing 1 gigantic, seemingly unmanageable project that isn't going anywhere.
This basic principle is another core foundation that I want to use in the product management software that I plan to build soon. Having gigantic backlogs of products makes you so much less likely to actually build any of it. But, splitting it up into smaller categories and making it seem like you've made some progress, can actually go a long way--and make you and your company more productive.