Is it waking up in the middle of the night with stuff on your mind?
Are you always fretting that you will forget something?
Do you continuously do things at the last minute even though you’ve known about it for awhile?
Or perhaps you have a gazillion lists written on scrap pieces of paper scattered all over the place?
“The constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy.” ~ Kerry Gleason
If it’s on your mind it’s not getting done. All you’re doing is worrying about it instead of doing it.
Schedule a weekly ‘brain dump’ (I like Friday afternoons) writing down all of the things that you would like to get done, have been asked to do, etc that are not yet scheduled in your calendar. This may be a mixture of personal and business.
Your list could look like this:
- take vacation to Hawaii
- make doctor appointment
- stain the deck
- write newsletter article
Once you feel that your mind is clear, it’s now time to go back through your list and begin to organize it. Start at the top and look at each item and decide what the next action step is for that item.
Next Action steps might be:
- research airfare costs
- call doctor office
- buy stain
- block off Monday afternoon to write
David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, says “In the fire zone of real work, if it takes longer than sixty seconds to file something, you won’t file it, you’ll stack it.”
If you can do the next action in 2-minutes or less, go ahead and do it.
Assuming the above examples, you can block off Monday afternoon right now in your calendar. The next item you might be able to do right now is call the doctor’s office and make your appointment.
So what do you do with the rest of your list?
It’s presumable that you could have quite a long list of next action steps and keeping them all on one list is likely what got you into this overwhelm and forgetting mess in the first place. Now it’s time to sort through the action steps and organize them by category.
Common categories might include:
- Errands– Hardware, Grocery, etc
- @ Computer
- Someday / Maybe
- Delegate – Who?
By creating categories, the next time you’re at the hardware store, for example, you have on your list the items that you were looking for. This becomes a time saver because you’re not trying to remember what you need. It becomes a money saver because it will save you an extra trip to the store because you forgot something.
Systems are habits. They are what we repeatedly do. They are not the technology that we use but the steps that we do. And research has proven that it takes up to 30 repetitions to form a new habit.
Don’t let this frustrate you or overwhelm you because you have so many items. You’re likely always to have lots of items. Trust yourself by scheduling this as a routine activity in your calendar. If you travel a lot, and you’re not operating the vehicle, this may be a great way to spend that time, brain-dumping and next action creating.