I don’t know about you, but I really dislike it when I say I’m going to do something and then I forget. 🙁 It leads to a reputation of unreliability, which is the worst. I don’t like to let people down. I learned early on in my short career as a waitress, that if I didn’t write it down, it wouldn’t get done. I was inevitably forgetting to refill someone’s iced tea and boy that surely affected my tips! I quickly realized I needed to get it together or I was not going to be able to pay my bills. The discipline I learned from this experience has served me well through the years. Here are my tips to help you stop forgetting your to do’s.
I don’t like to let people down
- Write it Down
As with the iced tea refills, if I don’t write it down it doesn’t happen. I LOVE sticky notes. They are perfect for writing things down. But sometimes my sticky notes get a little out of hand and I end up with notes for my notes. And what to do about the larger details from meetings? Or on-going projects? Groceries. It’s time to get organized!
- Sticky Notes
Because my mind is a constant conversation of things I need to remember to do or bright ideas, I have notepads or sticky notes and pens stashed in all the places I go- my night stand, my end table in the living room, my desk at home, desk at work, in the console of my car. You just never know when and important thought is going to strike and need to be written down!
- Grocery Lists
One thing I dislike a lot is grocery shopping. I mean where else do I drop over $100 a week in a 30 minute adventure. No where! And the store can be crowded and loud and people everywhere, kids crying, stockers stocking. Ugh. Needless to say, I go to the store early in the morning and I like to get in and out of there with little to no backtracking. So I have a list. My list is divided into aisles and I keep it on the counter all week. As we realize things we need, we write them in the specific aisle on the list. Before I go to the grocery store, I look at the week’s menu and add anything we need to the list. Keeps me in budget and gets me in and out of the store as quickly as possible. I also keep a list for other stores. Like Walmart, Pampered Chef, or Old Time Pottery.
Set 5 To Do’s per day
- To Do Lists
I also keep lists of things to get done in a given amount of time. Call them to do lists or action lists, it doesn’t matter. Lately these lists are the things I’d like to accomplish after work each day or what to do on a weekend. And for work I have my daily plan of five things to accomplish each day. Five is a reasonable amount, but the list usually ends up being longer than five. If I keep it to five I have a higher chance of success!There are 8 hours in a work day. Setting 5 ‘To Do’s’ each an hour-long increases your success of completing them because I have to take into account email, phone calls, drop-in visitors, meetings, training, etc. If the task takes less than an hour and I have fewer interruptions, GREAT I just found the proverbial ‘when you get a minute can you…’!At home I may also have short-term to do lists and long-term to do lists. These long-term lists are my someday I want to… could be trips I want to take or home projects or recipes.
- Grocery Lists
So what do you do when you’re in a meeting and you need to take notes? I have two journals – one for work and one for Tina Newberry Designs – that I carry to meetings. I jot down anything I feel is important. I learned from my old boss Matt Cookson of Cookson Strategic Communications to put a little square next to the action items. For one thing, the square is a visual flag of a ‘to do’, but it can also be checked off when the action item is done. For me a lot of the time checking something off in the notebook means I have moved it to the master project list. These journals have been helpful references for me, both at work and with my clients. I also take one to online webinars, association meetings and seminars or conferences. And in case my mind starts wandering and I have to remember to do something, I keep a few sticky notes on the inside front cover so I can make a list when needed.
- On-line Tools
I have used BaseCamp, EverNote, Trello, Smartsheet, Outlook Tasks and Google Tasks to keep track of my work and Tina Newberry Designs To Do’s. I find Trello is best for some work projects and Smartsheet is best for others. Trello is great for me because I can email Trello and it will keep a running list of notes for a job. I can also mention people on the job to email them questions or things to do. Smartsheet is great for projects I batch process. Like Ads. We have over 100 ads in 30 different publications. I have set these all up in SmartSheet with Ad due date, topic, contact info, publication date, etc and one day a week I go in and work on anything due in the next two weeks. The sheet is set up to email me anything coming due in two weeks, turn red for deadlines past, turn green for things due in two weeks and if I don’t had an ad topic, that box is blue. This visual system helps me stay on top of the ads and keep them going from week to week. You can’t email SmartSheet so it requires you to update jobs manually, to keep track of what’s going on.
- Sticky Notes
- Calendar Reminders
Probably my tool for best success is my digital calendar reminders. I use two calendars – Outlook for work and Google Calendar for personal and Tina Newberry Designs. I have these calendars overlaid in my phone and on my work computer I can toggle my Google Calendar on or off in Outlook if I need to see how if my work and personal lives are colliding. I use the Google Calendar especially to remind me to call the Dr, go to the bank, pay the bills, work onTND at lunch, as well as keeping track of appointments. The reminder feature of these calendars is amazing. If my calendar didn’t remind me, I would miss appointments, forget to take medications and forget what I had planned for dinner. Lots of people look at my overlaid calendars and think it’s too busy. That’s OK I am the only person who needs to understand it, and I do so that’s what matters.
Tool for best success is my digital calendar reminders
- Cross Your Fingers
I learned this trick from Shannon Michaels from New Hampshire. We’d be in a conversation and suddenly she’d cross her fingers. One day I asked her what she was doing that for. She said it helps her remember to go back to a topic or ask a question, without interrupting the conversation. Brilliant! Being ADD, I am a bad interrupter. (Can you say, ‘Squirrel!’) I am also bad a remembering what I wanted to say. I implemented Shannon’s technique about 10 years ago and it has served me well both in conversations and in remembering things if I don’t have a pen and paper handy to write it down. For example the other day I was driving to work. About 10 minutes out, I remembered something I needed to remember to do when I go there (I can’t remember the specifics now), so I crossed my fingers and kept them crossed until I completed the thing I was trying to remember. When a conversation gets particularly interesting I may end up with many crossed fingers! People think I’m weird, but hey, it works for me.
What tips do you have to remembering to do things?