Monday, March 29, 2010

SOS! Organizing When Visual Reminders Are Needed

“I need lots of reminders where I can see them. How can I keep things organized but still keep things out where I can see them? If I don’t see something I will forget about it.”

Let’s start off with a little experiment. Turn on the radio and leave it on. Turn on the stereo with your favorite CD and leave it on. Turn on the news. Can you make out what the headline stories are? Can you understand the words of your favorite song’s refrain? Can you tell when a commercial comes on the radio? With everything bombarding your senses, discerning individual details is difficult at best.

This experiment is analogous to the effect of leaving everything out as a reminder. Leaving everything out creates a lot of visual “noise.” The noise prevents any specific thing from alerting you – ironic considering the intent of leaving things out is to act as a reminder.

Leaving everything out is counter productive and memory by itself is untrustworthy. What’s needed is a system of reminders that alert a person at the right time. The system needs to be easy to use so the reminders can be entered quickly and consistently. The system needs to be easily gotten so it’s accessible to everyone.

The tool of this system is the planner. A planner is more than a calendar. A planner provides its owner a place to integrate tasks, objectives and goals with the calendar. The planner has a place to record daily to-do lists. Need to renew your driver’s license? Put it in your planner. Need to fill out an application? Put that task in your planner. The planner becomes the one place to record what needs to get done It’s simpler to have one place to check than an entire tabletop.

The planner is just one part of the system. The other parts are to provide homes for the planner. plus the items that are sitting out and to set up a routine of consulting and using the planner. Designate a spot to put the planner when you are at home and in the office. Nothing else belongs in the planner’s home but the planner.Having a specific home for things eliminates guesswork. Carry the “homes” principle to the papers you need to act on. An action file is a great place to file them. I’ve written about action files before: Organize Bill Paying.

To develop a routine of using the planner, leave it open so you can see what is recorded. Establish several times during the day to check the planner: morning, lunch and evening, for example. Carry it with you when you go to appointments. When the planner is your constant companion then you always have your reminders with you organized in a way that is doable rather than overwhelming.

One planner can replace a whole tabletop of reminders -- making your space a lot more clear and peaceful and your to-dos a lot easier to get done.

Karol has nominated the Leukemia Society for the charity drawing.
Post a Comment