The other day as I was cleaning out my bookshelves I came across a stack of my old notebooks from the last couple years. There were diary-like entries, dreams, to-do lists, and notes from courses I’d participated in.
As I looked through my old ramblings I was caught off guard by two things:
1) How disorganized my notebooks were and
2) How many of my dreams and goals had fallen by the wayside!
There were disjointed ideas next to one another and loose papers crammed into some of the pages. I recall that the way I used to use my notebook was to sit and write about the life I wanted. Then I’d forget about what I’d written or where I’d put my thoughts. I never took the time to go back and check on those dreams. I just wrote more lists and ideas, oftentimes repeating myself.
Can you relate?
Earlier this year I hit upon a magic notebook solution that I absolutely love. It has improved my organization and enabled me to keep track of my many, many ideas.
Note- I do not have a smartphone and work best with pen and paper, so that’s what I wrote about. You can take the ideas below and incorporate them into a handheld device. The key is just to keep everything in one place.
Here’s how it works:
1) Buy a cheap three section spiral notebook from an office supply store.
I once read that buying a less expensive notebook frees you from any perfectionistic tendencies you might feel with a nicer journal. I think it’s true. I really like the 6.5 x 9.5 inch size because it feels cozy to write in and is easily portable.
2) Title the first section: To Do.
In this section write the things you want to get done each day. These items can range from day to day tasks like picking up dry cleaning to reminders about steps to take for the big goals you have for yourself.
For your big goals make sure to include some 5 minute or less tasks. By doing small tasks each week your goal will be more likely to stay on your radar screen.
Cross off tasks when you complete them. As you go along, look back through the last few day’s to-do lists to appreciate all that you’ve accomplished and to see if you’ve missed anything. If you didn’t get to a certain item add it to the current day’s list so that it stays fresh on your mind.
3) Title the second section: Content.
This section is for writing a draft content. This could be anything from an email to a cover letter to a note to a friend. It’s super handy to have when you’re waiting for your turn at the dentist and are away from a computer. Just write whatever it is you have to say in this section. Then when you’re by a computer you type it up, click send, and cross it off in your notebook.
4) Title the fourth section: Thoughts
In this section you can do one of two things.
You can use the space like a journal, where you write about what’s going on, how you’re feeling, and any dreams or ideas you have.
You can also use this space to help you accomplish your difficult to-do list items. When you notice a task continually being carried forward from week to week take a moment and write down a couple of the thoughts that you’re having about that task. They might be things like “It needs to be perfect.” or “It will take too long.” Notice how your thoughts are affecting how you are feeling and acting. Then try to come up with a thought that feels better and makes it easier to take action. Maybe something like, “Perfection is the enemy of good.” or “I can do this task a little bit at a time.”
Putting all of these sections together in one place helps to keep you focused and aware of what you are trying to accomplish. This system leads to less redundancy, less forgotten dreams, and more accomplishments. Give it a try or revise your own organizational system to keep all your ideas and to-dos in one frequently looked at place.