Annihilation of my todos list

>I’m a tactile learner which means in order to make something stick in my brain, I either have to touch something or do something. Because I know this about myself, I create a lot of lists.

Throughout my work day I have to remember a lot of things – not just for myself but for the management team and for the office in general. Things that aren’t important to me (and therefore less “sticky”) have to be remembered. So I capture them by writing them down.

This serves three purposes – a) I have a written reminder of what I need to do/chase/think about/whatever, b) it makes it “stickier” because I’m making it tactile and most importantly, c) it also allows me to purge that item from my brain and leave what few brain cells I have left to focus on the next thing.

My todos lists have been the same for about a thousand years now and the system has served me well. I kept a few lists – “my todos”, “talk to (boss)”, “boss’ todos” and “reminders!” It has to do with the nature of my role… I’m essentially an extension of someone else’s brain. I have to remember what they forget and think of things before they do to avert crises that they didn’t foresee.

I’m less an assistant and more a wizard; I have to foresee the future and manipulate time (“I need an hour with Bob tomorrow.” “You don’t have a free hour.” “Make one.”) I’m also supposed to read minds, but I’m not finished the mail-in night course on that one yet.

But I digress… back to my lists! I’m finding lately that I don’t really want to make lists. My brain is revolting the structured, linear representation of my thoughts which are usually all over the place. I’m finding it impossible to structure the lists appropriately… do I sort them by priority? Priorities change constantly. By due date? Ditto. Alphabetically? Now that’s just silly.

Instead, I’m trying something new. I’m filling my notebook with clouds and squares and circles and arrows. I’m creating maps of reminders and tasks and random thoughts. I’m using colour and trying to let it flow.

So far, it seems to be working. By removing the rigidity of the serially structured list, it is allowing me to recall more details as I’m allowed to freely associate one thought with another and designate importance with exclamation points and red circles. And as I review my notes I can add further thoughts or next steps right where the original note was instead of having to rewrite the entire list.

I’m going to test it for a month and see how it works. I may find that this method doesn’t help me – perhaps the structures of the list have been the balance to the chaos in my mind. The new system certainly doesn’t look as organised, but I have high hopes for it. It is more creative, flexible and responsive to change. And as long as I remember everything I (and everyone else) needs to… perhaps this will lead to a more relaxed yet effective method of working.

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