Last week I wrote about some points I make when I teach on time management. There is one more point I would like to mention and that is the necessity of writing things down that you would like or need to do. I have just returned home from five weeks away and I am here for three weeks until my wife and I return to Europe for a working holiday. I have five major projects to work on while I am Stateside, and have short trips to Seattle and Orlando booked during my days at home.
So today I have a few things to do: write this blog, work on my online Bible study, clear my desk and process some emails. Then tomorrow is Mother Stanko's 90th birthday party, so there won't be much work done then. The next day I have a plan to so some things on each of those five major projects that are crucial to finish by October 22. I will mix in some prayer, reading and The Monday Memo, and that is my to-do list for the next three days. All of this is written down in my new Franklin Covey compass planning system to help me stay focused.
Someone once wrote that the problem with taking mental notes is that the ink fades so quickly! You already make a list, but if it's only in your head, you are subject to distractions and forgetfulness. My head is clear to think and work because I don't maintain a mental to-do list. Mine is written down. If I don't get something done, it's still there in front of me and can be rescheduled or reassigned to another day.
My system, which includes a master task list for future projects and one calendar for all appointments, whether personal or work, is a collection of lists and reminders. I am not uptight, nor do I maintain a rigid schedule. I am free to flow with the day, working on what I can, embracing important interruptions that come my way. All this results, however, from a commitment to write down ideas, projects and things I need to do.
I urge you to abandon your mental to-do list in favor of a written one. Try it for 30 days and see if it doesn't pay dividends. Don't do it like I do; work out a method that is right for you. Once your productivity increases, you won't ever want to go back to the mental list technique.
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