» Holding it all in the head


I have a not-so-helpful habit of keeping my to-do lists, appointments, etc., in my head. I try writing things down but always seem to leave the list at home or in the car OR I forget that I’ve made a note on my iPhone. Over the years I’ve tried using a variety of planners and while I often get off to a great start, things often quickly fizzle out. While I believe my life could greatly benefit from a healthy dose of quality organization and better time management skills, I often wonder why I can’t seem to make a real commitment towards making that happen.

This is the best I can come up with:

Maybe I don’t like to be told what to do, and so I resist accountability for my actions by not keeping them neat and organized.

Perhaps I have not learned the value in taking the time to plan & organize my life.

I might be afraid of writing everything down and becoming dependent upon a system that could get lost or deleted.

Or, I could just be lazy.

Those are speculative but these I know for certain:

 I struggle to do certain things when I’m not motivated to do them. (But when I am motivated, the quality of my efforts is top notch) 

I don’t want to be one of those people who lives out of their day planner. I need spontaneity. (Though does forgetting to pay the electric bill count as being spontaneous? More like forgetful…) 

Am I the only one who struggles to keep organized? One who keeps everything they need to do in their head and often relies on visual clues to take action? I suppose that if what I forget starts to outweigh what I remember, I might be forced to adopt some kind of regular system.

Do you have a regular system for keeping your life organized?

Image of the Rhodia WebPlanner courtesy of bakanekosan on Instagram
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Posted on March 19th, 2013 by Stephanie
Filed in: Editorial
Tagged: ,, , , , , , , ,


By Michael Francis (@MikeFrancis00) on March 19th, 2013 at 5:25 pm

I can empathize with you. I aspire to be one of those regimented, live-by-the-list-and-planner types, but can’t do GTD or DIT. Maybe I am too spontaneous. Somehow or another, I get my bills out on time and show up for the right shift at work. I have a guardian angel, I guess.

Avoid so much introspection.
Use the time saved to ‘do it now’
Follow your instincts
Keep notebooks for pleasure not for angst

While I have attempted to try GTD, the whole system is a bit much for me. There are certain parts that do work, though. Keeping reminders in the places you need them is the most useful lesson for me. Since I have to drive to the store, the best place for me to keep my shopping list is in the car. I put reminder notes all over the place.

I used to be a “live out of the day planner” person, but I got tired of carrying it everywhere. Now I just carry a stack of 3×5 notecards and a pen. When I think of something I’ll need to act on later, I just write it down. The old saying “when you think it, ink it” is so true. At least it works for me.

I used to be the same way- not making list I mean. Then I started to actually make lists but I always forgot them! Now, since I always carry my journal with me, I make notes and lists right there on the pages of my journal. The more I do this, the more I like having those little bits of the mundane, everyday, in my journal.It’s rather fun to look back at these silly little notes and list and “to-do” items!

I LOVE my planner but find that I write really important things down on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker that way everyone is given a chance to remember and remind me . It also is a place where the kids can leave notes about changes to after school sports practices which they seem to always remember at 11pm when I’m already asleep : ) I also keep a small bamboo board in the car with a dry erase marker to jot down things I need to do that day.

I am a dyed in the wool GTD guy. I go nowhere without my Rhodia 11. Even if you don’t follow all of GTD, that’s fine. For me, the concept of lists by context are a lifesaver as well as using a single calendar for everything. I use Outlook and a smartphone to sync, but it’s not necessary. A good old loose leaf binder with filler paper works just as well. Good luck.

Thanks for an interesting post.
I used to keep most things in my head & I think I found it harder to be spontaneous as I was too busy trying to remember stuff!

For some years now, I’ve used a filofax (love my gadgets, but can’t beat pen & paper) for random thoughts, making notes, my to-dos & keeping control of projects. As it’s loose leaf it means I can change around the contents or just start over if it’s not working for me. I use my iPod touch as a calendar, but my filofax is a central point for my scribbles & it helps me feel a bit more in control.
Good luck!

By Cassandra on March 23rd, 2013 at 8:53 am

Planner as my appendage for almost 20 years, have a great track record of getting things done. The only part of GTD that worked for me was context lists at one point in my life. Now it is just a matter of one calendar and a place to write as it comes to mind. No scrap paper or post-it’s

I’ve been using a planner for at least 20 years and couldn’t function without it. I do feel a little claustrophobic sometimes about the “to do” list. As soon as I write that stuff down, I don’t want to do it. Sometimes I call it a “checklist” and that helps. But I think using a planner is a very good thing for most people.


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