“Never rely on memory.”
That’s my motto.
One of the keys to being productive and efficient (aka getting shit done) is to avoid using your memory. You need a system. A trusted system. And as soon as a to-do hits your brain you need to get it out of your head and into your system. If your head is a swirl of to-dos, you’ll feel overwhelmed, and you’ll inevitably forget to do something important. Once you’ve got your to-dos out of your head and into a system, you can prioritize them, and you can make sure you’re doing the important stuff.
- Keep a physical or electronic note system so that you can immediately write down any task you will need at a later date – this applies to both work and your personal life, but it makes sense to have separate systems for each.
- At the end of day or several times during the day – do a “brain dump” into your note taking system.
Once it’s in your system, it’s out of your mind. This helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed. Brain-dumps keep your mind focused on the task at hand, as they free up your mind from the cluttered, anxiety-producing thoughts of all the things we need to do but haven’t gotten to yet. Trying to remember what you need to be doing takes time away from actually doing what you need to be doing. Knowing that it’s all written down makes you feel good, relaxed, like you’ve got things under control (because you do), even if you are woe-fully behind in your to-dos. And crossing those items off your list makes you feel even better.