Jake Knapp: The “Burner List”

Academic writers often ask for ideas about how to organize their time so that their writing does not get buried under their many other commitments. I read about a good idea today that I want to share. It’s called the “Burner List,” created by Jake Knapp, author of Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. The idea is simple and elegant: you divide your to-do list page into three sections, metaphorically named the front burner, the back burner, and the kitchen sink. The front burner is for your one (and only one!) most important project. The back burner is for your next highest priority project (again, only one). For projects on the front and back burner, you can list specific, incremental sub-tasks in the space provided. Everything else goes into the kitchen sink. You can see an example here. By using this system, and by recreating your list every few days as you make progress, you force yourself to prioritize and to focus on completing your most important projects.


Compton, J. (2017, September 14). How this simple to-do list can help you tackle major life goals. NBC News. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/better/business/how-simple-do-list-can-help-you-tackle-major-life-ncna801351

Knapp, J. (2017, August 31). The “Burner List”—My simple, paper-based system for focused to-dos. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/time-dorks/the-burner-list-my-simple-paper-based-system-for-focused-to-dos-95497321cf14

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