Losing ideas and to-dos only slows you down from reaching your goals. Move through your day more efficiently by developing a system that works for you so you can spend less time figuring out what to do and more time getting the work done. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
How many times have you found yourself desperately trying to recall an important thought but your mind keeps going blank? No matter how much you try to remember, it just won’t come to the surface. All you know is that it was important and that it had to get done. Now you’ll have to wait until it decides to show up again.
Our brains are mysterious machines. Powerful, but sometimes not very dependable. Mine loves to throw out great ideas and important tasks just as I’m caught up in something else—like while I’m hopping into the shower or diving into a meeting.
The antidote to this frustrating phenomenon is having a dependable system that you can lean on; a system that works for you. Without one, your brain will work overtime to recall the thoughts it thinks you want again and continues to throw them at you when you least expect it.
I recommend having a method for recording these thoughts when they first pop up. A recording method can pull you out of this repetitive loop and assure that you know where to retrieve the thought when you’re ready for it. Whether it’s a calendar, a notepad, or an app, keep all your thoughts in one place so you don’t waste the time that could go towards knocking a to-do item off the list just trying to figure out what’s on your list.
I’ve played with different solutions over the years, but I’ve settled into using two systems in tandem. One is digital, the other analog.
For my day-to-day tasks, I prefer a digital method. This way I can tag my tasks with relevant keywords, sort by project, use the search function to find thoughts, duplicates, and to get reminders. I’m not relying on my brainpower to recall bits of information that my robot can conjure for me. When I’m out and about and a thought pops up, I can just plug it into the app and it will show back up when I’m back at my computer and ready to work.
There are a thousand different options out there, each designed for different brains and preferred processes. My personal favorite is Todoist. I can assign due dates, rank by priority, organize in folders, get reminders, delegate the task to teammates, and access it on all of my devices. It also lets me attach emails, files, and links. Everything I might need to accomplish my tasks can be stored in this little app.
Keeping it Analog
When it comes to broader projects, like brain dumping or mind-mapping, I prefer to use a designated paper journal. For more conceptual work like this, it feels more natural for me to sketch ideas out and scribble thoughts quickly. From there, I can extract the specific to-dos and input them into my handy-dandy app.
While my app and my designated journal are my two main “go-to” recording methods, there is a third worth mentioning: I find it helpful to keep a notepad by the bed, as well. That way, I can record those dozey strokes of genius without having to keep a device in the bedroom.
Our minds all work a little bit differently, but there are just so many different tools available nowadays that there is something for everyone. Find the system that works for you. Go for what you naturally gravitate toward. Don’t force a solution—you’ll never use it if it doesn’t feel convenient. If you find yourself jotting thoughts on little papers, make sure you have a designated notebook. If your phone is always within reach, find the app that works for you.
Having a recording method that works effectively for you is a surefire way to keep your best thoughts available for when you’re ready for them. If you have a recording method that works well for you, I invite you to share about it in the comments section!
Ready for some help getting something off your to-do list? Be in touch!