I don’t know if it is just the way my mind works, but I suspect not. Fully engaged in a task, I will suddenly have a random thought pop into my head. For example, during one client presentation, I remembered I needed to refill the toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom. Then there was the time that I was up to my elbows in bread dough, and I remembered I needed to call the project manager for client X and let him know about a possible project opportunity.
The worst part is that if I don’t write these thoughts down, they keep popping back in at the most inopportune times. I find that writing them down, then collecting them into a central spot means that my mind is able to focus more on what I should be doing.
Here are my three favorite ways to capture random thoughts, in order of preference:
I always carry my notebook with me. During meetings I can be discrete in writing down these random thoughts, and the notebook gets tossed into my in-box every night for processing. If the item is a to-do, it is proceeded with a little box. If the item is thinking-out-loud material, I put lines before and after it.
#2: Voice mail
In the case where I can’t stop and write something down, like when I’m driving, I use voice mail. I call the place I am next scheduled to go to (home or work) and leave myself a message. I write down all messages in my notebook (see step #1) at one time, and go from there.
#3 – PDA
Surprisingly, although dependent on my PDA for just about everything else, I have found that making quick notes on the PDA is a sure way for me to lose track of things. I have never been able to stick with entering notes in the PDA into the other programs on the device.
Photo by D’Arcy Norman