Two daily top-three lists that can put your writer's life on track...

How Making a “Top 3” List Both Morning and Night Can Improve Your Writer’s Life

Two small lists. One written in the morning, and the other at night.

Each with just three things written on them.

It takes less than a minute to write these lists, and they have the power to drastically improve not only your writer’s life, but your life in general.

If you’re like most of the writers I know, you already make lists.

Maybe it’s because we enjoy the physical act of writing… picking up a pen (or pencil, marker, or whatever your writing implement of choice is) and putting words on paper. Maybe our lists give us a sense of power or control.

Whatever the reason, we writers tend to make lists.

To-do lists. Grocery lists. Chore lists. Deadline lists. Lists of ideas. Lists of goals. Bucket lists. Appointment lists. Bill-pay lists. Lists of books we want to read, movies we want to watch, places we want to visit.

This list of our lists could go on and on, but you get the point.

Our lists are neither good nor bad. They’re simply words on a page.

The power of a list lies in the intention behind it.

I invite you to consider:

Are your lists serving you? Are they improving your life?

Or, do you make lists simply out of habit? Or because you think you should?

Are they merely something you do to pass the time? Perhaps for mild entertainment… like playing Solitaire on your phone.

The lists I encourage you to start writing will serve you. They’ll sharpen your focus, help you sleep better at night, and increase your joy.

First, let’s talk about the nightly list

At Night:  “Top 3 Things to Do Tomorrow”

To clarify, since we want to improve your writer’s life, this list should be the top three things you need to do the next day in your writing business. For example, finishing a project with a deadline, doing research, pitching a new idea, sending a proposal or contract, writing prospecting emails, attending a networking event, etc.

You probably have more than three things that need your attention. That’s okay. Go ahead and put them all on your master list, so you don’t forget any of them.

Your “Top 3 Things to Do Tomorrow” are your priorities. The three things that must be done before the rest. Your non-negotiables.

The act of knowing your top three and writing them down at night does five things:

  1. Identifying three top priorities helps you focus on completing your most important tasks quickly and efficiently with less chance of being sidetracked by things of lesser importance.

  2. Writing them down lets your brain relax and stop actively working to remember them… you’ll sleep better with a relaxed brain.

  3. Writing them the night before allows your subconscious to go to work on the tasks. It gives your subconscious time to figure out creative solutions or ways to accomplish these priority items.

  4. You have a plan to hit the ground running the next day, making full use of your writing time, rather than spending a chunk of time deciding what you need to do and where to start.

  5. Writing your “Top 3 Things to Do Tomorrow” at night lets you reflect on each day’s accomplishments and remain intentional about living your writer’s life on your own terms.

In the morning, your “Top 3” list from the night before is ready for you to get started on your priority tasks. But before you do, I suggest you make another “Top 3” list…

In the Morning:  “Top 3 Things for Which I’m Grateful”

Just as you generally have more than three things to do each day, you also probably have more than three things you’re grateful for. Like with your master to-do list, you can write a larger gratitude list, if you like.

But, take a few minutes to notice the three things you feel most grateful for today. Write them down.

Your “Gratitude Top 3” may be the same day in and day out. It may be variations on the same themes. It could be completely fresh and new each day.

Either way, write your top three without judging yourself.

Do not censor.

Do not over-think or analyze.

Just write.

Three things.

That you’re most grateful for.


The act of identifying the top three things you’re most grateful for each day helps you start the day from a position of empowerment.

Harvard Medical School reports that gratitude “helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Scientific studies from a variety of researchers suggest gratitude can increase your energy, improve your self-esteem, and make you more productive. All good things to start your day with… don’t you agree?

I used to write a gratitude list at night and my to-do list in the morning. Perhaps you do this now, too. For me, switching the order has been profound.

It has shifted my energy. It keeps me focused. I can get so much more accomplished in a day.

And, while I’ve specified my top three to-dos, I don’t have to stop my work day once I’ve completed them. If I choose to keep working, I simply go to my master list and start working on the next priority item.

This system of writing “Top 3 Things to Do Tomorrow” each night and “Top 3 Things for Which I’m Grateful” each morning is simple. It’s easy. It costs nothing.

It’s powerful.

Try it yourself for a week or two and see if you agree. The longer you keep doing it, the longer you remain intentional about your priorities and gratitude… and the better your results will be, as your brain adjusts to the new routine.


Michele Peterson

I'm a Freelance Direct-Response Copywriter specializing in web content and social media. I help clients attract new prospects, get new customers, and retain existing clients with engaging web content and strategic social media. I'm a Master Networker, having attended 400+ networking events in the past 3 years. AND I'm a proud Baseball Mom, Wine Wife, and BBQ Daughter who loves Christmas, Disneyland, and rescue dogs.

One Comment

  • Sounds like a neat idea! I’ve definitely found that reducing things to a few top priorities helps me get a lot more done. But I haven’t tried it at the end of the day. I’ll give this tip a try and see how it goes. 🙂

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