Life Coach Magazine

Screw Reminders and To Do Lists

By Gjosefsberg @gjosefsberg

To-Do ListI am one of those obsessive people who has to write down everything they need to do.  If I don’t write it down, I obsess about it.  I think about it over and over, visualizing all the bad things that will happen if I don’t get this done on time.  I stress myself out imagining the ramifications of what will happen if I forget to this task and then I obsess about whether or not I will forget it.  This is true for everything.  From the most important task (get an officiant for my wedding) to the least (walk the dog).  Luckily for me, I found a solution to this problem a long time ago.  The solution was actually in a book by David Allen called Getting Things Done which I highly recommend for anyone wrestling with organizational issues.  It was a simple solution and basically called for me to write things down.

I know, I know, sounds stupid simple, but it really works.  Before you start obsessing over a task, just write it down.  That way you have a reminder which you can deal with later.  In the meantime, you’re free to go about whatever other work you needed to do without devoting extra brain cycles to other stuff.  It’s an excellent tip and one that has stayed with me for years.  Unfortunately, it’s also that drives me crazy sometimes.

The Fine Line Between Fun and Work

I started writing down tasks and reminders for things I needed to do at work.  I would write myself notes about my latest project or to do lists for my new product.  That’s great and it’s exactly what this tool was meant to do.  Then I started writing myself notes and reminders for tasks in my private life.  I would send myself emails as reminders to go shopping for food or mow the lawn, which was still ok.  Except a few years ago I went a step further and got an automated little system for reminders (I use Remember The Milk) and I started adding in daily, weekly and monthly tasks.  That’s when the craziness started!

Sure, putting in a monthly reminder to give my dog her flea medication is a great idea.  In fact, that reminder just popped up so let me pause this post and go take care of Daisy.  Phew, problem dealt with


Now that was a task for which a reminder system is perfect.  It far enough between occurrences that I may forget about it and the consequences of forgetting are bad enough that I don’t want to risk it.  If that was the only kind of reminder I kept, my life would be far happier.  Unfortunately, my slight CDO (that’s OCD but with the letters spelled in the right order!) means that I’ve added more and more tasks to this reminder system to the point where I started taking some of the fun out of my life.

For example, this site is a hobby.  It’s not a job.  I don’t depend on it for income and I don’t need it to survive.  I do this because I enjoy it, because I love interacting with all of you and because I like a forum where I can spout of my ideas!  Why the heck would I put in a reminder to myself (that recurs on a weekly basis) to post on Equally Happy?  Does it help to have that to do item sitting there, stressing me out as it goes undone because I have more important things to do?  What about this other reminder?  ”send Julie a cute text”?!!?  Seriously?  I need a reminder for this?  I love doing this and I probably waste too much time texting her already, no reminder necessary.  Why would I want to burden my brain with this additional reminder of “stuff to do”?

The correct answer is, there is no good reason to do this.  The only things that need reminders are the things that are easily forgotten and have dire consequences if you miss them.  Those are the ones I’ll keep.  The rest I will go delete right now to free up some room in that overworked brain of mine, I’ve got better things to think about!

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