From the Give Back summary of how to fix your brain… This is something I have to constantly remind myself. It’s a hard one, because I hate to think of my system as being weak — or weakened. But that’s exactly what’s happened. And the thinking systems that have been weakened have been permanently altered. So, I need to always keep this in mind. When I forget it, I suffer. And so does my work and my relationships. My whole life starts to go downhill.
3. Don’t depend on your brain’s weak systems for organizing and memory to manage your time and your activities.
- Get your brain to use your full intelligence to plan your day thoughtfully, a day ahead of time, when you can think everything through well.
It’s practically impossible for me to do this a day ahead of time, because things can change so rapidly with me. From day to day, I don’t always know what’s “coming down the pike”. Stuff changes rapidly — plans change, weather changes, people change their minds about what they’re going to do.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t plan in other ways. The best way for me to do this is break it up — look at my next day plan on the afternoon / evening before… and then check in with myself first thing in the morning. And keep track of things throughout the course of each day. Track it.
- Write that plan down on a schedule form so that you take no chances of forgetting what you need to do.
Scheduling things has become a lost cause, in general, because things are so unpredictable at work and at home. So, I have a standard list format that I use.
[ ] Thing I need to do
[ ] Really important thing I need to do (I use a yellow highligher)
[/] Thing I am in the process of doing or have started
[x] Thing I have done (I have a green marker to track the things I’ve completed)
–> [ ] Thing I needed to do today, but didn’t get to, so I need to do it tomorrow. (I use an orange marker to make it stand out)
I try to keep a running list of things that I “carry over” from one day to the next. I’ll copy my –>[ ] items onto lists for later days. That way, I can keep track of everything I need to complete.
- Develop the habit of writing plans and following them, and soon you will be in total control of your time and your productivity.
I agree. The habit of writing out plans and following them (as best I can) has done wonders for my ability to get things done, as well as my self-confidence. I have a support system that works for me. And when I use it (which I admit is not consistent enough), it really helps offload a lot of the mental grunt work, to save my brain for more interesting and important (and challenging) things.
If there had to be one thing I’ve done that’s helped me get back to the level of functioning I’m at now, it’s developing lists and systems around lists, that let me do what needs to be done without having to think too much about how to do it all. Coming up with a ‘standard operating procedure’ for just about everything — from getting up in the morning and going to work, to taking down the Christmas decorations — has made me a whole lot more functional than I ever was, when I was just going with the flow or winging it.
Lists are my friend. They can be yours, too.