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Stop trying to remember things

One of the basic ideas behind GTD is what David Allen calls “mind like water” — keep your mind clear by keeping your tasks in a trusted system.  This simple premise has improved the quality of sleep as well as my prayer life, because my mind was no longer racing with things I had to do.

However, I was only doing that for significant tasks such as “upgrade WordPress on Joe’s site“, “contact Bob about that proposal“, etc.  For smaller things, like when my wife would ask me to start the dryer, I’d count on remembering to do it in a few minutes.  We know how that ends up…

For the past few months, I’ve worked very hard to get every thought out of my head and recorded before it had a chance to just slip away. Now I keep a notepad at my desk and write down everything as a quick note.  For example, I have one sitting here now that simply says “start dryer“, because there’s a load in the wash right now that we need clean in the morning, but it’s still going.  When I come back into my office to shut it down for the night, I’ll see that note. It helps to have a clean desk, or the note would get buried. 🙂

I’ve also been using the notepad on my phone more often (via a quick note in Evernote) when I think of things.  I used to use Jott for that, but this is a simpler solution.  By using it with Evernote, that quick notepad is with me wherever I go — it’s on my phone, my desktop, my laptop, etc.  When I get a chance to sit down and process my inboxes, I make sure to clear out that note and either do the tasks or add them to Nozbe.

Other techniques can help as well.  Some examples:

  • I need to drop a check in the bank tomorrow morning, so it’s in my wallet but I left it sticking out.  When I grab my wallet in the morning, I’ll see the check and remember to take it to the bank.
  • Our current dishwasher doesn’t have a delay timer on it, and I really miss that feature.  We do the dishes right after dinner, but can’t start the dishwasher right away because the girls need hot water for their baths. In the past, I’d intend to start it later in the evening so it’d be clean for the morning, but I’d often forget.  Now, I just put the dishwater detergent bottle out on the counter after I finish loading it.  Later in the evening, I’ll see it sitting out and it’ll remind me to start the load that’s in there.

I’m sure you have similar little techniques that help remind you of small tasks.  What are some of your favorites?

About the Author

Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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