Imagine it's your wedding day. You’re putting the final touches on your outfit and straightening your hair. Then a flash of realization: you forgot to make an appointment at the registrar's office. What do you do?!
This happened to a groom in 2013. His response? Stage a hoax bomb threat hoping the registrar's office would close so he could "reschedule" his big day. Unfortunately, his cover-up was discovered and he spent 12 months in jail. That’s a drastic story of the negative consequences from forgetting.
Everyday hundreds of thoughts flit through our minds: buy dog food, dig up Halloween costumes, make plans for Thanksgiving, and so on.
What can you do to reduce the chances of forgetting? For starters, stop using your brain as a filing cabinet.
When you use your memory as your organizing system…your mind will … become overwhelmed and incompetent, because you are demanding of it intense work for which it is not well prepared. - David Allen
Instead of using your brain as a filing cabinet, try these four spooktacular ideas. They’re based on concepts from productivity guru David Allen, ADHD psychologist and author Ari Tuckman, and my own experiments.
1. Set up an idea-capturing system. Which tool, paper or digital? Try both and see which works better. For me, I use a notepad in my car, a notebook on my nightstand, and the notes app on my phone.
2. Speaking of your phone: open a notes app and create a few of these lists. Here are my examples:
3. Make it a habit to externally capture thoughts. For the next 7 days, see how many times you can transfer your thoughts onto paper or phone when ideas you want to remember drop in. Oftentimes I get the best inspirations just before falling asleep. Before I devoted myself this habit, I convinced myself I’d remember the brilliant thought in the morning. Not!
4. Read the chapter Remembering to Remember (PDF) from Dr. Tuckman’s workbook Understand Your Brain, Get More Done. He offers concrete tips and strategies to overcome forgetting.
Your mind is for having ideas, not for holding them - David Allen
When I relieved my mind from being a filing cabinet, it relaxed. I felt less anxious that I’d forget to take something with me to a meeting. I enjoyed cleaning up my inbox. And my mind was free to do its supercomputer job: generating ideas. Watch out world!
Capturing is only the first part of a well-honed organizing system. Get this skill under your belt and you’re on your way to some spooktacular productivity. If you’d like help on this and other productivity techniques, let’s chat. Call or email now before your mind forgets!
*Special thanks to Dr. Tuckman for permission to re-use "Remembering to Remember" chapter. Learn more about Dr. Tuckman's work with adults with ADHD plus check out his other publications.
Gwen had a hard time focusing on her work. As a successful interior designer, Gwen thrived on the design aspects of her work. But she easily got bored with and put off the back-end tasks required to run her busy firm, Place It. She worked out of her home office. When she sat down at her desk, her two dogs Archie and Bella invited her to play. Birds on the maple tree outside her window sang and she turned her attention there. Chores like invoicing clients or writing copy for her website dragged on for hours. The phone rang, beeped and vibrated. Each time it chirped, she glanced at it. She couldn't focus! Hours went by.
We came up with a simple two-part technique:
First, turning off and putting the phone out of sight was crucial to her ability to focus. According to The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, our brains have been trained to seek a reward each time the phone beeps. It wants that pleasurable hit of getting a new message, text, or notification so we automatically respond by reaching for the phone when we get a cue. But turning off and putting the phone out of sight broke Gwen's automatic cue-response-reward habit.
Second, using the timer creates pressure that helps to spur us on. It gives the illusion of urgency on a deadline. And according to a study published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Professor Sophie Leroy found that time pressure helps us “disengage from the first task… and contributes to higher performance on the next tasks.”
Gwen explains: "Tasks used to drag on and on. With the timer, I feel like I can just do it so I don't have to put it off forever. Using the timer, I can do all of this in one hour. Otherwise it usually took four hours. Now I can focus the time I saved on what I really love: fun work such as design."
So why not set a timer to one hour? The power of using 50 minutes instead of one hour is in those 10 minutes. They provide the crucial transition time to disengage and move to the next activity. Gwen continues: “Those 10-minute breaks are really important. I turn on some music, pet the dogs, and eat a snack.” After intense focus, our minds need a break, but not too long that we get distracted.
Try This For Yourself
Ready to regain precious time in your day? Try this for one morning and see for yourself.
Want help on this and other productivity techniques? Get in touch today.
In time for back-to-school season, nine-year-old David shares why he thinks organizing is important. Then he demos his method for organizing a desk.
And once you enjoy a clean desk, this might spark more tidying: books, backpack, toys, closet perhaps?
If you want to try this with your own desk, here’s how:
Why not start the new school year with a sparkling neat desk?
What can we do with a corner? For a Chicago entrepreneur running two businesses out of a home office, let's create separate project zones. Inspired by the Swiss Army knife, a custom flip-top table magically enlarges the work surface. Even a tiny corner within a dining room can be transformed into a premier home office.
Our #1 encouragement for any home office make-over: declutter first. When you curate and tidy up first, the rest goes so much faster and smoother.
Ready to flex your home office? Give us a ring and let's get started.
Last month’s ransomware virus did real damage. Ransomware plots will continue to grow, according to this graph from The Economist's May 20th 2017 edition.
Ransomware is here. The chances of our homes and businesses becoming vulnerable will grow as we increasingly computerize our lives: cars, home alarm systems, even home appliances. It's not hard to imagine malware potentially taking your phone hostage or locking you out of your home unless you pay a ransom.
Like an earthquake, we can’t prevent a cyber attack, but we can plan for and manage the effects. There is still a lot within our control. One simple option is backing up your files in the cloud.
It’s the easiest way to safeguard valuable information from ransomware, computer failures, and other disasters.
Last month I tested the three most popular services: Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. They all sync effortless across desktop, web, and mobile phones. Regardless of which one you choose, the important thing is to just start now.
Here are lessons I learned from my adventure in the cloud.
And when you’re ready for a home office makeover, we’re here with custom solutions that will have you on cloud nine.
What can you do with a dark 8' by 9' home office? Plenty! Watch this video of my design proposal for a SF home office in need of a makeover. Then use those concepts to inspire your own home office refresh.
My #1 encouragement: declutter first
When you tidy up your home office first, the rest is so much easier. And more fun.
Ready to live large? Give us a ring and let's get started.
I'm glad for more daylight starting today. Feels like spring already. In our 2017 monthly home office care calendar, March is for getting ready for tax time. Tax time can mean stress and anxiety. Whether you have a CPA or do your own, filing your tax returns gets more complex each year don't you think? So how can you help yourself during this time? Here are tips to design and organize your upcoming weeks for less stress.
If you've been following our 2017 monthly home office care calendar, February is all about decluttering your books.
Last weekend I boxed up about 20 books to donate. I did have trouble letting go of books that were gifts. What helped was reminding myself that my friends gave those books for me to enjoy (which I have), and not for me to feel guilty about. And after that, it was easy to let go of books that had been sitting in a closet for years (a sure sign that I no longer treasured them)!
Ready to help your shelves lose some weight? Here are 5 places in San Francisco to take your unwanted books: