As perfect as we intend our productivity systems to be, life interferes. we may forget to empty out our inboxes, do a review, make a list, forget to check email, or not capture a random thought. It doesn’t matter why any of these things happen, only that they do.
One of my favorite Flylady sayings is “You’re not behind; jump in where you are.” This is important so you don’t continue to lose ground and render your system completely ineffective. However, we have to find ways to handle the things that fall through the cracks.
Of all the items above most of them will wait until the next time you perform the action. Email will stay in your inbox until you deal with it (although many of us wish it would disappear). Getting these items back on track is as simple as performing the action. If things have built up too much, Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management (aff) has an excellent method of dealing with backlogs.
The things most in danger of being lost are those random thoughts that aren’t captured. For me, they will vanish either until the consequences of not attending become known, or they will hide until another unexpected moment, invariably when I have no capture device near me.
Side note: There are those that insist that they get around this by carrying a capture device with them everywhere and at all times, but I have had thoughts strike me in the shower, and while I’m scrubbing a toilet; I don’t carry paper and pen around all the time, and I suspect that they don’t, either.
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to get back on track when you are missing thoughts. Here are three methods I use to get back on the way.
This list, from Paauwerfully Organized, is one of the most thorough lists I have seen for scraping out the cobwebs. Six printed pages of questions, it makes you think about things you might have forgotten. I usually go through this list every three months, unless feeling particularly confused.
The walk through technique is useful most at home. You start in one corner of your home, and following the outside walls, go through all the rooms, scanning the contents, walls and windows with your eyes. Leave your mind free to think of things, and write them down as they come. Make sure to open up the closets as you do this.
What will happen is an outpouring of things that might have been nagging at you that you didn’t realize until that moment. The sight of one object at home may trigger a thought of something you have to do at work, or it may lead you into a list of things you had forgotten about.
An example: in a recent walk through, I found two mending projects I had forgotten about, and I was reminded to go through my daughter’s clothes to determine what we needed to buy. I also saw a book I had borrowed months ago from another friend, and reminded myself to get a recipe from the same friend.
When I know I don’t have time or the ability to write something down right away, I use the linking method I learned from Page-a-Minute Memory Book (aff). You link items together by putting them in ridiculous situations, one at a time. For example, one (brain) foggy morning I remembered I had to fill my fountain pen, drop off the library books, buy apples and order new contact lenses. The link ended up being this: the pen drove the library books to the library; the library books had branches with apples; and the apples were wearing Groucho Marx glasses. Those three images, linked together, allowed me to remember the items, even after I had written them down.
By applying these three techniques, I stop the leaks in my system. I am more able to relax and not worry about writing every last little thought down. I still have lapses, of course, but they are fewer than before I applied these methods.