Don’t Make Excuses, Make Notes

“He listens well who takes notes.”

—  Dante

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 …

to do listYour 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 request.

About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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2 Responses to Don’t Make Excuses, Make Notes

  1. Natalie says:

    Great advice, Eric — couldn’t help but take a little peeky at your list…. “(sigh) book”. Have you begun?

  2. Eric Winger says:

    LOL! The (sigh) was because I made my January goal too squishy to get started. Probably wouldn’t hurt to set a specific goal for February and make that happen. Figuring out what that specific step is may be the goal. 🙂

    btw – My ultimate goal is to take the message of ‘giving time’ out to a larger audience through speaking and writing. A book seems to be one of the mediums in which to do that.

    Good catch, eagle eyes!

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