Remembering things

Like everyone, I need to remember lots of things just to get through the week.  I write some of them down, record others in Evernote and keep things in my inbox that need actioning.  Some things I just keep in my head.

The increasing problem is that the reminder to do the things pops into my head at the wrong moment – in the car at the end of the day, or in the middle of the night.  Now I have a new system which in a nutshell is:

  • write down absolutely everything that you have to do in a single list
  • check the list lots of times during the day

Sounds pretty straightforward?  It’s very hard to do in practice.  Quite often I think I don’t need to write it down because “I’ll remember”.  And even if I do, I have to remember where I wrote it down – a scribbled action in a meeting note three days ago.  Or the email three quarters down the inbox where someone asked me to do something.

About a year ago I started using Evernote to dump stuff into and quickly discovered the most useful of all features:  the checkbox and the saved search. Adding a checkbox to a note means that you can tick it when it’s done.  But how do you find all unchecked items? Just create a saved search called “Things to do” with the following search string:


Clicking on this on your phone, iPad or PC will instantly bring up a list of things that you need to do.

Now you just have to record everything.  Evernote is great for that because you can install it everywhere.  Often things pop into my head late at night in front of the telly.  So I create a note on the iPad.  You can also email into Evernote – send it to the default notebook and add a checkbox from inside Evernote.

After a while though, a single list gets difficult to manage.  This is when you can turbo charge the system.  Ruud Hein has a great post on how to do this in Evernote.  You can customise the ideas to suit your own situation but this really takes the whole business of remembering things to the next level.

It really is a burden off my shoulders now, not having to remember things.  The only thing I have to remember is to check the list.  Evernote makes this easier by being everywhere and I’ve found that this task this has become automatic now – just like checking email is.

Read more on this topic . . .