Many of us walk around with endless lists in our heads of projects we need to get to, errands we need to run, items that need to be fixed, and numerous other tasks that need to be checked off. In David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, he describes these subconscious to-do lists as major barriers to being organized and actually being successful in completing our projects and tasks.
Our short term memory can only hold a limited amount of information and we clog it up when we try to keep these long lists in our minds. As a result, our to-do lists create distractions and feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed. Allen also writes about the way in which we define our to-do lists. We often make a list of general projects – “mom’s birthday” or “re-do kitchen” – as opposed to defining the next step of a project as an action item:
“…the real problem is a lack of clarity and definition about what a project really is, and what the associated next-action steps required are.”
He argues that establishing action items for outstanding projects and documenting those actions is key to both getting them off of your mind so that you can focus on the task at hand and having a to-do list that is relevant. In addition to reflecting on our own organizational skills. This is an important role that the Simplified team plays in our client’s projects/to-do lists management– a valuable and essential tool in shaping our client’s to-do lists into actionable items.
While working with Simplified, clients are able to organize their life into actionable items by:
Schedule a consistent time to speak with Simplified each week, either via phone or in person. At these meetings you can sort out your thoughts and download your to-do list. These meetings also serve as placeholders for clients to check-in with themselves on various aspects of their lives.
The Simplified List
Several of our clients have adopted a list that they keep with them – on their computer or in a notebook – and review throughout their week. Clients jot down items, including phone numbers, that they want to pass along to our team. This is helpful because it gets the items out of their head so they don’t have to remember all of those tasks when they meet with our team.
The Quick Email or Voicemail
As we all know, thoughts come to us at some of the strangest times– in the middle of the night, during a workout, at the grocery store… We think of random things that need to be done at the most inconvenient times. As Allen explains, if we have a task in our head, our brain doesn’t know when to remind us of it or when to do something about it. As a result, tasks we need to accomplish keep popping up in our heads, serving as frequent distractions.
In order to avoid these distractions, clients send our team a quick email or voicemail, even if the whole project is not completely explained. This is not uncommon for our clients to do because it gives them the peace of mind that their list is safely documented.
Simplified serves as the “keepers of the list.” We can’t tell you how many clients have said with a sigh of relief – “Okay, that’s on your list now and I can forget about it, right?” And the answer is always yes, you can.
Meet with one of our concierges to discuss how we can check off more items on your to-do list with our Errands Services.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.