You Can Fight It All You Want To, But Simply Write it Down!
Life is crazy busy and it never seems to slow down.
Once you’ve just made some time for something and finally got through it, there is a huge pile of other things that you feel you’ll never get to.
How will you ever get it all done?
Well, the first thing you can do is write it all down.
No matter what system you’ve read about – Getting Things Done, Franklin Covey, Achieve Planner – they all start with writing things down.
They may suggest to you different ways and different places in which to record your thoughts, ideas and goals, but the main point is that you write it all down.
And many people resist this over and over again in their life because they perceive it as work, as one more thing that they’ve got to do.
But really, it’s THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO!
Because you will no longer carrying it around with trying to keep it up there in the back of your mind, while a million other things swirl and mingle around. There’s no way you can keep on top of everything when you’re struggling to remember who you said you’d get back to about what and what was it that you ran out of last night and have to pick up on the way home?
It is said that you can only keep 7 things on your mind at once, and we all know you have a billion times more than that on the go.
Once you’ve written it down, you won’t be straining to try and recollect it and all of a sudden, you’ll feel less stressed and clearer headed.
And if you’re not convinced, perhaps Henriette Klauser’s book, Write It Down, Make it Happen will change your mind.
Whether you keep it all in one notebook, on your cellphone or in a computer document or task list in your email program doesn’t matter. Whether you decide to categorize it or colour-code it is up to you AS LONG AS YOU WRITE IT DOWN SOMEWHERE!
What I don’t suggest is writing everything on scraps and sticky notes. Sure, if you need to capture an idea or something you don’t want to forget to do and that’s all you’ve got on hand, that’s okay. But be sure to then copy it into the system you’ve got going so that you do not constantly have to shuffle through papers to see what you’ve got to do and when. You might as well not write it down at all if you can’t find it…
You may be drawn to a “Master To-Do List” where you put everything, one after the other, uncategorized. I used to do this, but I found it overwhelming and you have to sift through items again and again.
I like to categorize my lists so that if I have 10 minutes, I can look at my “Calls” list or my “Errands” list and go through items that are similar in nature.
You might prefer to keep work and home life separate, creating places for “Things to Do with the Kids” in one folder and “Ongoing Projects at Work” in another.
Do what you are naturally drawn to, so if you are a visual person, highlighting items in various colours or keeping papers in coloured folders will help you stay on your game. If you are an analytical person, a simple list in a Word document on your computer or a program such as Remember the Milk or ToDoIst may be best for you.
Try one way and if it doesn’t work, try something else. My lists have expanded and grown and then simplified over the years. It is an organic thing that develops as you do. Do not be afraid to change your systems and methods as you do.
Here are some trigger lists to get you started. Don’t be surprised if you think it will take 5 minutes and it takes 50. That’s normal and that’s a good thing. It means you’re getting rid of all those years of mental clutter you’ve carrying around!
Stephanie Dickison is the author of the recent book, The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home, which covers her career as book, music and restaurant critic. She has been a journalist for over a decade and now spends much of her time writing about travel, food, beauty, style and celebrities for various publications and websites.
When she’s not writing, she’s eating, cooking, organizing, filing, making lists in sumptuous notebooks (you must use your beautiful journals) and colour-coding her ever evolving calendar.
She is one of the few writers still using technology AND paper. But at least her paper is organized into pretty file folders…