I love list! To-do lists! Where I can write down all the tasks that are swirling around in my head. I use to-do lists for my private and my professional me, so I don't loose track no matter what.
My first to-do lists date back to when I was a teenager and I noted down pretty much everything, just to have the joy of ticking tasks off the list a lot more often.
During my undergrads I had list of what I would like to do (seeing a movie, meeting with friends, writing a letter, going to a concert,...), because time passed by while I often was stuck in front of the TV or the computer and I needed to be reminded that my life can be more exciting than that.
I still use this type of lists and they are very helpful to prevent me from "being too tired" every evening. By now I'm not using paper lists for that but a program that pops up little notes on my desktop (still sitting too much in front of my computer) once a week and once a month. They are reminding me to write postcards to friends, to go for a swim, to see a movie/go to the theater, to read a paper that is not related to my subject just out of curiosity or to cook something I've never tried before. I had a note that was popping up each day, which said "read a random Wikipedia article" and "make 20 sit-ups" - but my private me got bored pretty fast by the daily to-do list.
My most professional "professional" to-do lists were made during my PhD thesis. I was commuting every day to uni and used that time to make a list with the tasks for the upcoming day. And I became extremely good at judging what kind of work and how much of it I could handle. Sitting in the train on my way home in the evening with a completely ticked of list was always very satisfying.
For some reason this concept does not work as good anymore. Dealing with three PhD students plus my own projects and the responsibilities in the lab gives me the feeling that I can't plan my day beforehand anyways. So I sort of stopped trying. I started weekly list but even that is chaotic and often enough I can only tick off stuff like fixed appointments. I'm not sure what's the real cause for my to-do list dilemma: is it really the bigger diversity of my projects or maybe the lack of progress control by other people / supervisors? Do I become lazy or is it just bad time management?
Maybe I need to find a new way to kick my own butt, at least the professional one - but I'll always love to-do lists!