I’m always surprised when I meet with clients who don’t have a calendar or any form of to-do list – I would be lost without mine. Now I know not everyone is as fond of lists as say, a professional organizer, but today I’m going to try to sell you on the benefits of writing things down.
Time-Saving Tip #3: Write it down!
Keep a calendar and task list - whether electronic or good old pen(cil) and paper. It's next impossible to remember all the places you need to be and things you need to do. Worse - trying to do so wastes mental energy and time. Write a task or appointment down when it first comes up so you don't have sticky notes floating around you head!
I currently use Google Calendar to keep track of my schedule. I have more than one job in addition to personal calendar items and the beauty of Google is that you can share multiple calendars – so I can see all of my appointments in one place. The two small companies I work for also use Google Calendars for scheduling. To take it a step further, my husband and I use it to keep track of evening and weekend things that come up as well as major events, such as business trips. It’s so convenient to be able to capture everything that’s going on in one place.
As for to-do lists, I use a combination of the task list that’s part of Google Calendar and paper. I have a notebook for each job – I write down tasks that come up when I’m out and about and then transfer them to Google when I’m back in the office, which seems to work pretty well for me. For household tasks, we are starting to get some good routines in place – routines are great for stuff that has be done regularly because once they’re in place, you shouldn’t need to put that item on your to-do list.
That’s another tip about lists – don’t clutter up your to-do list with routine tasks that you will remember to do anyway (like check your email or eat lunch) – to-do lists are meant for things that you might otherwise forget.
Admittedly, there is an overwhelming array of information management systems (planners, calendars, notebooks, smart phones, online tools) out there. Pick the one you are drawn to, whether it’s a pretty planner or fancy phone, and stick with it. I see people run into trouble, myself included, when they don’t commit to system or don’t put things in one place. If you’re a note person who like to ‘jot things down,’ I recommend getting a spiral bound notebook (or whatever you like) and using that as home base for things you want to remember – there’s nothing worse than piles of scrap paper or partially filled notebooks or pads.
The bottom line is that having a system of some sort for keeping track of your appointments and tasks is better than trying to keep track of all of it in your head. If you’re stuck and don’t know where to begin, a session with a professional organizer could give you the boost you need.