How many times have you been talking to friends and they say “you have to see xyz movie” and 2 hours later, you are texting them for the name of that movie?
You look like an idiot to your friends. But who cares? They don’t think you’re an idiot because they do the same thing.
More critically, have you ever been in a meeting and after you get back to your computer, you realize you can only remember half the things that you were now supposed to do?
Or, you were on a 20-minute phone call, knew and agreed to all the tasks that you had to, only to find your boss chewing you out two weeks later about something that you had no recollection of?
Stop Wasting My Time and Your Time
I’ll admit, this issue bugs the CRAP out of me.
I see it ALL the time.
Every time I see it happen, I want to tee-off on the person that’s doing it. Or rather, not doing it.
If we’re talking to each other and there are clear takeaways, you better be writing something down.
If you didn’t follow through with something because you forgot, you’ve just wasted my time and your time.
One Small Fix to Improve Your Efficiency
Write it down. Duh.
I don’t remember where I read it but someone wrote something to the effect of “don’t write it for you, write it for future you.”
Especially, in this day and age of smartphones, there’s no reason why you should forget anything.
The key to remember is that all you have to do is write something/anything down so that it can jog your memory later.
Here is a current snapshot of my list on my iPhone using the Drafts app.
As you can see, it’s quite a diverse list of things.
To break it down, this is the background for each item.
- Look into an application called Byword. I heard about it on a podcast and it sounded like it was worth checking out.
- I was having drinks with my friend Mary and she suggested that I see ‘That Man from Rio.’ Once I see it, I can talk to her about it.
- I need one last ingredient for my dinner masterpiece.
- The topic of an article that I thought would be great to have on my client’s blog. Came to me while watching a commercial on tv.
- A random thought while at the supermarket (possibly buying broccolini) about an article I was writing. Perhaps I could stick that in somewhere.
The Benefits of Writing Stuff Down
Forgetting something can have some serious consequences. Important tasks not completed, missed medications, important dates.
And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s the difference between finding your wife’s killer or not. Just ask Leonard Shelby.
The other benefit that most people don’t think of is the lessening of anxiety that comes from NOT having to remember something.
If you don’t think that’s true, try this.
Find a simple free note-taking app on your phone and anytime you have to remember something, write it down quickly. For this exercise, disregard a list that you are writing down to take to the store in an hour.
Do it for a couple of days, long enough to get up to around 10 notes.
For most people, I suspect they will notice that there’s an immediate sense of relief of not having to remember something even an hour later.
No anxiety. No screaming bosses.
Why wouldn’t you put this simple process into your daily life?
Mind you, this post is not about journaling or documentation, in the way we all think about long boring documentation. I’ll get to those another time. This is about quick items.