By Mark Kenyon

Take 5 minutes and complete one simple task. That’s all I’m asking of you today, and I’ll explain what that task is in just a moment.

The Problem

But first, if you’re at all like me, with hunting season just a matter of weeks away, you’ve likely still got a boatload of hunting prep to take care of. Tuning your bow, moving treestands, trimming lanes, adjusting trailcams, finishing food plots, clearing access trails, washing your clothes, buying new gear, asking for more hunting permission … is this stressing you out yet? Probably, and I doubt you’re the only one. It’s completely understandable.

Work, family, around-the-house projects – we’re all busy and when you throw hunting projects on top of all that, it can be pretty overwhelming. Because of that, it’s common for one of two things to happen.

1.) Because of how overwhelming all of this stuff is, the majority of the hunting work just gets pushed to the side, ignored, or “saved for later.” The net result is you’re not prepared when hunting season arrives. Or…

2.) With so much on your mind, you’re constantly stressed about things you need to do, and then in many cases you still forget to do many of those tasks. It’s hard to remember to complete all of the 10 or 20 or 30 different things you need to have set before the opener. Again, the net result is that you’re not properly prepared.

Obviously, either of these scenarios is not good for your chances of success this fall, so what can you do to avoid this debacle?

The Solution

It’s simple and will only take you 5 minutes. Make a list.

Yes, a simple list can help you help handle the mountain of deer prep you have ahead of you, because lists are much more powerful than they seem. And I know, lists might seem pretty boring, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Why Does This Work?

Simply by listing out all of the work you need to get done, you achieve several things. First, you reduce your stress level. The Zeigarnik effect, discovered by Russian psychologist Blum Zeiganik, implies that the act of simply writing tasks down allows your mind to be freed of the responsibility of remembering all of these items and ultimately reduces neurological burden, distraction and stress.

Per a recent article paraphrasing Daniel J Levitin, author of the Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, “the human brain can only pay attention to three or four things at any one time, so writing down a task we plan on getting to later is essential. If we don’t, we’re afraid we’ll forget it, so our brain rehearses it, tossing it around and around in circles in something cognitive psychologists call the rehearsal loop. Offloading those nagging internal voices by writing down tasks or thoughts we can’t explore now enables us to excel in the moment.”

Secondly, a list quite simply will help you stay accountable. There’s lots to do, but if you’re trying to get it done on a whim, whenever you happen to remember it – you’re of course not going to cover it all. By writing down all the hunting tasks you have left to complete, you’ll have a consistent visual reminder to do the work, and an easy way to track exactly what is left on the docket. And trust me, crossing each item off will feel very, very good. A key to making this work though is to make sure that list is not tossed aside and forgotten. Write it out and then place it somewhere you’ll see it often. To make this list even more effective, try to rank order that list by priority, making sure you get to the most important items first.

So go ahead, grab some paper and pen and just dump everything in your mind out onto the page. All the big projects, all the little tasks, get it all out there. You’ll feel better and you’ll be more likely to enter hunting season truly ready.

But of course, a list won’t complete itself. You’ve still got to do the work.