“He listens well who takes notes.”
Upon discovery that one of my children, who shall remain anonymous, had forgotten to turn in some assignments. And the subsequent and frantic search, the offending child came back into my office holding a paper.
“I guess I just forgot to turn it in.” said child.
“Don’t you have a turn-in folder?” chided father, “which is empty at the end of every day?”
“Well, yes.” said child, trying to save face. “But this paper was due before my grand reorganization!”
“Haven’t we been talking about a turn-in folder for the past three years?” asked father.
“Well, uhh.” murmured child.
“Look, it’s not a crime to forget something. But don’t make excuses, make notes.” said father. Whereupon, father immediately became distracted because he realized that this was one of the keys to doing more and giving more.
Which brings me to this powerful point …
Your brain is not free to relax and creative if it’s not free of the trivial details. And if your brain is not relaxed and being creative, it’s going to continue to worry about the same old things. And if you are worried, you won’t be able to recognize opportunities to give more and make a difference, let alone act on them.
The easiest fix I know is to do one simple thing – Take Notes!
If you have a note system that you trust, you can relax and focus on opportunities as they present themselves in the form of emails, letters, websites, or most importantly through the people in your life.
Here’s a quick guide to how I organize my to-do’s.
- Notes – Write everything down, especially to-do items! For me, my page of notes will show a * for a to-do item, a / for information, and a ? for things I don’t understand. The to-do’s are most important.
- Emails – Answer every email as soon as you can. Sometimes a response can be just a question back. If the email contains a to-do item for me, I leave it unread and bolded. Keeping an unread list less than ten works for me, as it forces me to keep the to-do list small.
- Calendar – Get a google calendar and sync it with your smart phone calendar. Set up multiple reminders of important events in advance. Put in recurring notes to remind you to do things.
Once all of these things are written down, you are free to look around for opportunities. Including the opportunities to make a difference.
Like my child found out tonight. It’s not a crime to forget something, but there’s no reason to make an excuse.
Just make a note to do it.
(Now, if I only had known that in college.)
Remembered to change the school’s reader board thanks to a unread email in my inbox. Not having to remember that detail that gave me an extra minute for my brain to relax and help with a sparked.com request.