Personal Productivity | You Can Conquer the Devil in the Details

A Weekly Personal Productivity series to help you get more done!

Every Thursday, I’m sharing a new Personal Productivity Tip to make a real difference in your personal productivity success. When you apply these techniques, they’ll make a big difference in improving productivity, achieving accountability and staying focused on the things that matter the most in your life.

You may want to check out some of the posts in this Productivity series, including the the value of checklists; the importance of getting rid of the crappy stuff;  the nightmare of the cluttered mind; and that feeling of being buried all the time. You can also leverage your resources and apply the lessons of the ARCI chart and the S.M.A.R.T. goals to boost the accountability of your entire organization. Start by Turbocharging the Sunrise! Last week, we talked about the distractions that are destroying our brains, and next week I’ll outline one approach to getting more control over these relentless intruders.


Are you having any trouble making your routines … routine?

If you’re like me, you realize that there are a lot of “little things” that we need to do every day that often escape us in the maelstrom that surrounds our normal routine. It’s usually those things we’ve promised someone we would do that day FOR SURE … a small thing, easily done … but then, in the firestorm at the office, we completely forget about until we hit home and are gently reminded about our oversight … again.

What is a Routines List?

This may sound absurd … maybe it is a sign of the times … but I’ve recently created a “Routines List”, an innovation that serves as a handy checklist of routines that I may or may not need on any given day but I want a quick reminder of what they are. As you know, I’ve written before about the power of such checklists. (You can also check out David Allen of Getting Things Done (GTD) fame, who has also written extensively on the value of checklists.)

We all have routines, don’t we? We brush our teeth when we get up … that’s usually my immediate 2nd thing to do … shave … shower … brew that first cup of coffee. Like me, you may also have a routine for filling your pockets. I know there are always 7 things I carry, so I mentally count them off to make sure they’re not overlooked.

Why do you need a Routines List?

In some ways, my Routines List serves as a the “master checklist of checklists” that I need to regularly consult. Yes, it sometimes seems like a bit of overkill … except when I don’t consult it and realize that some very simple thing I meant to do was overlooked … again.

The Devil IS in the Details

Consulting a “Routines List” every day to make sure nothing is missed is a simple but effective tool to overpower the devil that’s in the details. My Routines List includes reminders for such thing as …

  • check my “shopping list” for items I want to purchase online,
  • update sponsors about an upcoming workshop,
  • a reminder to check my iPhone for any recordings I made while traveling,
  • go to the next step in a course I’m taking online
  • check on Google Analytics
  • a reminder to check Evernote for items I wanted to read,
  • jog my memory about folks I haven’t talked to in awhile
  • and the list goes on.

Follow a Routine to get Routine Things Done

These are a few of the 30 items that are now on my Routines List.

Of course, this only works if you’re on top of the things on those other lists. It’s simple, though … just make a habit of immediately adding things to your lists as they occur to you …  errands, online shopping lists, phone calls …. If you do this without fail, your Routines List will regularly call these things to your mind when you’re actually able to do them.

Now, when you see the “Check Online Shopping List” on your Routines List, you’ll look at that list, see there IS something you wanted to purchase, and be reminded to do it. It’s simple but effective so that the little things don’t get lost.

Do NOT trust your memory to get things done

It’s been repeatedly proven that the brain is a powerful calculator but provides a terrible reminder system.

Don’t trust your memory. You might be able to remember a few things, but never all of the little things that need to get done. Write them down and have a routine for checking on them. If you do this, EVERY SINGLE DAY, you’ll invariably discover something that you really want/need to do that day and would have forgotten/overlooked it without your Routines List.

Have you found something that works for you to keep track of those pesky “little things” you don’t want to forget? What are they and how does it work for you?

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