We sometimes write notes. Well, most of us do anyway. We are on the phone and agree that we will do something, and to not forget it, we scribble it down on a piece of paper. We are in the middle of a task when it occurs to us that we mustn’t forget to do something else as soon as possible, so we write it down on a note. In our striving towards listing our to-do-tasks in as few places as is possible, and preferably narrowing it down to one, in order to make our work lives somewhat easier, these notes can feel as a small sin - as if we are doing something we are not supposed to, that it is wrong to use notes, and that it is a sign of our unsophistication or deteriorating structure.
A quick scribble has its benefits
I think of it differently. When we write down something we want to remember on a note during a phone call it is because it is the easiest way to document something important at that very moment. If we scribble it down quickly we will maintain focus on what the other person is saying instead of interrupting them and chit-chat while we open and log in to the tool we use for our to-do-list.
The important aspect of using notes isn’t whether we do it or not - it is that we make sure to process the notes throughout the day and either write what they say on our to-do-list or do what they remind us to do. It is not until we let the notes stay overnight at the office that they will take on a life of their own - independent of our comprehensive to-do-list. They tend to multiply fast if we do and end up all over the place. When that happens, we lose that great overview of all the things we have to do.
Remove does not equal complete
In order to get rid of a note we do not necessarily have to have time to do what it says right now. Instead we are only required to transfer the information written on it to where it actually belongs (on the to-do-list, for instance) before throwing the note away.
If you want to prevent the notes from multiplying from now on, make it a habit to transfer what you have written on them to where the information actually belongs as soon as possible - or at least before leaving work for the day.
If you feel encouraged by this simple method, make it your goal to not have a single note left on your desk when you leave the office every day this week. If you succeed, reward yourself generously on Friday afternoon.
Keep your cool
When you make a point of disposing of all the notes created throughout the day before leaving the office and do not let them stay overnight, you will maintain a structured overview of all your tasks since you keep them all gathered in a single place. You will feel peace of mind more of the time since you know that the risk of missing something is as low as it gets, which at least to me, is priceless.
What’s your way?
Do you have some other way of dealing with notes that has worked terrifically? Then please leave a comment and share your thoughts on the matter.