Recently when my brain started to lose memory ability, maxing out with promotions and other changes, big stressors at work, on top of other life stress, I went back and did yet another crash course on a whole lot of productivity tools, methods, books etc. Again — no problem, I felt like that was a good idea. And I found that just keeping basic notes in the form of lists, short summaries of things to do is still the best way for me to stay on top of things in my life and sort things out in my head.
So not only the todo list, which I keep on paper in work and/or personal notebooks but also Evernote which I can access on all devices easily, and Box for secure work stuff.
I also started using Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Planner which is helpful. It’s good to have questions I can look at, not every day but several times a week usually, like “Someone who needs me on my A-game today is:” and other great ideas and questions to help me relax and get into a successful calm mindset during the day.
But in general lists are an extension of my lifelong journal practice, to save time. Words, short phases, instead of sentences. Minimal. They can be ways to analyze and sort out problems:
“Need to schedule show, look at calendar.”
“Work on memoir, revise, contact agents, also Steve…”
“Schedule boxing class for tues? Studio and/or climb also?”
But I can also makes lists of things I have done, to help me take in the success and get the overall perspective of accomplishment:
“Tried to see R. at prison today. Learned the ropes of that system, ready to go back.
Took Abhaya to Hamilton, for xmas, amazing show!
Took a good nap.
Recovering from yesterday’s workout.
Deal with S. is interesting.
Deal with T.S. is interesting and might close this month.
Worked on memoir this week.”
So these are good things. Making a list of successes is really good and the Burchard planner has helped me with that. Also gratitude lists. It can be just short things, not even a “bullet type” list:
“I am grateful for: My health, boxing, Abhaya is healthy, St. Paul’s is great, she loves reading, chess. Wants to take horse lesson, play soccer more. NYC was awesome last week. Laura’s family is great, all around. Jetlag this time was not too horrible. Abhaya being sick made it harder. She is better now. Hamilton was amazing. Jason S. was super helpful this week, good relationship (work). I can run, minimalist shoes are awesome for that and other stuff.”
I also like to make lists of things that are causing me anxiety, and people and things that are bothering me. Look at how they are affecting me, the root causes of my stress and annoyances which is often my thinking that someone is doing something “to” me. So I can see these problems start to develop in my mind, this victim mentality, before they fester and freak me out, lead to resentment and anger. The things that stress me out are better when written down in a list.
I don’t need to do this every day, that sounds great but my mind does not work like that. I’m lucky if I eat more than a banana for breakfast on any given morning. But I can pause later at my work desk to make some lists of stuff for this day or main list to refer to, what I might have lost track of.
I do it as needed, and I have done it enough to get the correct feeling and read when these things can be helpful, when I feel stressed or negative. And I can refer back to my todo lists and take off things done or revise them.
So lists can be simple, easy, powerful. Put the most important stuff at the top. Ultimately the more research I do on productivity tools the less I need them or want them. I guess a laptop or phone are good tools too. Having two phones, for personal and work stuff, helps a lot, and using my work phone instead of my laptop as much as possible is really great. Thanks Apple and IBM. And Spotify.