I find it so easy to forget things. There I am making a cup of tea and remember something I need to do when I get back to my desk, do I remember – no! Within the space of two minutes, other thoughts or distractions have come along and it’s gone. The old-fashioned method of repeating it to yourself until you’re back at your desk hoping no one stops you on the way is my usual tactic! But the success ratio of this is very low!
Let’s face it, our days are busy, we have many things on the go at once and even more things to remember. How we remember what we need to do not only affect our productivity but also our health. Forgetting to do something important can have drastic effects on our relations with others which will only put extra pressure on us to remember.
There are different types of things I use to remember. Somethings need to get done urgently or soon, others are important so having a range of techniques comes in handy!
I’m one of those who prefers a zero inbox, I see other people’s inboxes with thousands of unread emails and it gives me the shivers. My strategy is quite simple, go through emails first thing and resolve anything you can straight away. Some I leave unread if it’s something I need more time to do later, others I star it to pick up later, the rest should be archived. This helps me know at a glance what I still need to do. Email notifications are turned off, I simply check when I can. This is more around productivity but it does mean that I don’t need to remember anything because any leftover email or new ones will be picked in my daily routine.
One feature I’ve started using for remembering emails at a more suitable time is Snoozing. I think it’s great! Any emails that I know I need to do but not straight away I snooze until a better time, this way I don’t need to think about them again until they show at my chosen time!
Being overloaded with post-it’s is all too common, this is not a way to be productive or remember things. I use one post-it (maximum two) to list urgent priorities I need to get done (usually that day). I see the post-it next to my laptop while at my desk which is a reminder of what I need to do. These are usually items that I don’t have an email about but are just as important, like setting up a meeting or talking to someone. There is also satisfaction crossing items off the list or, even better, throwing the post-it away when all is done.
I use Trello a lot for items I need to flesh the details out on e.g. upcoming trip to capture everything I need to plan details for or notes I want to use in a meeting coming up. I like it because it is simple and quick to add cards, plus I can also add/change details on the go using the mobile app. The Trello lists I have at the moment are: Now, Later, Backburner, Useful. I have changed the name of the first two lists over time to suit the purpose. There are a number of features in Trello that make it useful to make different purposes unlike my basic use for this.
I have recently started using Trello for one-on-one notes now too. I’ve used draft emails in the past which worked well for me but am testing whether Trello can give more flexibility. Looking good so far!
Slack can be very noisy which can work against productivity but it does have a cool feature for remembering things!
I do get ideas or remember things about work while I’m at home or out and about, I forget this very quickly so /remind is great for this. Using the slack phone app, I give myself a reminder which will flag up when I’m in the right place to deal with it. These usually come as a nice surprise as I would have forgotten about them in the meantime!
/remind can even be used even on individual messages so you don’t have to keep them unread until you’ve replied – great feature!
For me, productivity starts with remembering things, the best way that I remember things is to write them down. It takes too much effort trying to remember one thing let alone everything else! Once they’re written down it’s about having it in the right place so it can either be completed or thought about more. So, if I’m making a cup of tea and remember that important thing I use my phone to put it in Trello or send myself a slack /remind.
Everyone needs to find a system that works for them, what I have described works for me but won’t work for everyone. Ask those you work with how they remember things, try out different methods and find your way.