5 Advantages of a To-Do List

One of the fundamental tools for time management is that list of things you need to get done. It consolidates all your tasks in one place. From there you can prioritize them and tackle the important ones first.

There are 5 key advantages to maintaining a to-do list:

A to-do list doesn’t forget

Your brain is not the most efficient memory tool and will only trust systems that it knows works. Good memory recall is as simple as finding those things that will jog your brain at the time it needs to remember. Having a written list helps us remember when things have do be done so we do not miss anything.

A to-do list helps you set priorities

Making a to-do list is an important first step but prioritizing that list ensures that you focus on the most important items rather than giving in to the temptation of working on less important items because they may stand out more or because they are easier to do. Once you have a list of the things you need to complete, set priorities and decide which jobs should be done first.

A to-do list lets you coordinate similar tasks

A to-do list helps us to avoid repetition of labour. For example, if we have to deliver a document at an office and collect a document from another office which is on the same block, both these tasks can be done together.

A load of time is lost in the starting, stopping and changing of different levels or types of activity. Save time by performing like tasks together. Make all your outgoing phone calls at the same time; organize your errands into a single run; reply to e-mail; etc. You will find this a more efficient use of your time.

A to-do list tracks your progress

Using a to-do list enables you to mark off the tasks you have completed. At the end of the day, when you look at the list, it will give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It might also have the effect of waking you up if nothing has been marked completed.

A to-do list makes it easy to carry-over tasks

If anything remains incomplete at the end of the day, it can be carried over to tomorrow’s list. This is an easy way of preparing a to-do list for the next day; by examining the to-do list of today and carrying forward any task that is incomplete.

When we talk about preparing a to-do list, there are a couple of helpful points to remember:

The to-do list should be realistic.

Don’t include more on your list than can be accomplished in a day. Projects that will take weeks or months to complete should be organized and tracked in a different way.

Prepare more than just daily to-do lists.

Regular tasks can occur on a monthly cycle: e.g., paying bills. You can create date-based lists that will remind you to complete task which are regular, but not frequent. A calendar is the easiest place to track such a list.

A to-do list can be as simple or as complex as you need. Write down the tasks that you have to complete, break large tasks into component steps, assign priorities to each item and get to work.

RecommendedZen to Done Productivity eBook The Ultimate Simple Productivity System

Enhanced by Zemanta

Memory Makeover: Tips to Spruce Up an Absent Mind

brains!

brains! (Photo credit: cloois)

It’s Monday morning. You have one minute before you have to leave for work, but can’t find your keys. Ransacking your home in a frantic search, you finally locate the keys—right where you left them—on the kitchen counter. Breathless, you hop on the bus and realize your lunch is still at home. Worse still, you spot a new co-worker on the bus and can’t remember his name.

Understanding Memory

Before learning any memory improvement technique, it’s useful to first understand the three stages of memory: encoding, storage and retrieval. The encoding stage refers to the process of putting information into memory. The storage stage refers to retention or maintaining information in memory. The retrieval stage refers to recovering information from memory. If memory lapse or forgetting occurs, often a problem occurred at one or more of the stages of encoding, storage or retrieval. Increasing the efficiency of these stages, therefore, will help to improve memory.

Tips and Tools You Can Use

In the same way we exercise our muscles to keep fit, we have to continue to train our brain to maintain its efficiency over time.

Boost your brain power with these tried and true tactics:

Ditch your multi-tasking ways. 
Think you can successfully study the details of a report while talking on the phone and reading your horoscope? Think again You need at least eight seconds of focused energy to digest information and store it in the brain’s memory centre. So hang up the phone, find a quiet place and focus.

Stay organized.
 Many people overlook this crucial step and end up missing important appointments, deadlines or details. Put pen to paper (or finger tips to keyboard) and record important dates in a calendar, notebook or on your mobile device. Recording and arranging data will help ingrain it in your memory and give you a point of reference in case you do forget.

Get hooked on mnemonics. Mnemonic devices boost memory through associations. Depending on the material and learning style, you might use visual images (for example, a black cat stuck in a well to remember the name “Blackwell”); rhymes and alliteration (for example, 30 days has September, April, June and November); acronyms, such as HOMES to remember the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior); or even jokes to recall important information.

Try chunking items into smaller groups. One way to improve memory is through a procedure called chunking. This occurs when you reorganize items such as letters or numbers into units or small groups. For example, remembering the number sequence of: 6-3-2-4-8-1-7-9 could be remembered easier if the sequence is chunked into: 63-24-81-79. Using the chunking technique, the number of items needing to be remembered is cut in half.

Take a guided tour. Another old but proven mnemonic device is the “method of loci.” This involves using a familiar route, e.g., the pathway through your home to your bedroom or the way to the corner store, as a way of remembering key details of a speech or the order of a complex task. Use each room or landmark on your journey to “signpost” different parts of the speech or each step of the process you need to remember.

Take a fresh perspective. Neurobics help exercise and strengthen underused brain pathways. Keep those brain synapses firing by taking a new route home from work, using your non-dominant hand to brush your hair, challenging yourself with a crossword puzzle or taking a class in a completely foreign field of study.

Stay active. Physical exercise boosts the amount of oxygen to your brain and can help lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease and depression—all of which can impede memory. It also promotes sleep, which can improve focus and help consolidate memories.

Eat right. Foods rich in B vitamins—including legumes, spinach, broccoli, strawberries and citrus fruits; Omega-3 fatty acids—like tuna, salmon, herring, flaxseed and walnuts; as well as antioxidants (vitamin C, E and beta carotene)—sweet potatoes, tomatoes, berries and green tea amongst others—are thought to improve brain function.

A great way to realize the potential of your brain and even increase your memory and learning abilities is based on the idea that by reflecting on how you think, you can learn how you best absorb knowledge. Consider how your way of thinking or storing information is working for you, and then ask yourself how well you did in recalling this information or how you could use your memory differently next time. In other words, use memory strategies that work best for you.

Everyone draws a blank from time to time. Young or old, forgetting is a natural part of life, but there are ways you can boost the power of the brain to keep you sharp no matter what your age. Consider the suggestions outlined in this article, and if your brain power continues to falter, be sure to discuss the issue with your doctor.

From Shepell-fgi

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sleep on Your To-Do List to Get Things Done

To-do list getting a little long? Do you have problems remembering all you need to do?

Take the list to bed with you.

New research suggests, when planning for tomorrow’s to-do’s, sleeping on it will make you more likely to get things done.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that people who sleep after storing a memory end up following through on their intentions much more effectively than people who jump right in without sleeping.

While most studies on the link between sleep and memory deal with retrospective memory (things that happened in the past), this one focused on prospective memory (things you intend to do).

Prospective memory involves such everyday tasks as remembering to buy milk or to keep an appointment. It gets an especially good workout when you have many things to get done.

Understanding that sleep strengthens prospective memory is a valuable tool in handling your obligations efficiently.

Take a lesson from this research the next time you have a full agenda at work the following day. Give your memory a boost and ensure you’ll be at the top of your game by getting a good night’s sleep.

Enhanced by Zemanta

6 tricks to help you remember names

I have a terrible time remembering people’s names. Let me rephrase that, I have a terrible time learning people’s names. I don’t know how often I’ve been embarrassed when someone greets my by name and I can’t remember who the person is.

I envy those people that remember your name from the first time they hear it. Anyone with such an ability has a head start on building strong relationships.

Here are 6 tricks I use to help imprint that new name in my memory:

  1. Show interest in the other person – Your initial frame of mind makes a big difference in name retention. I have lost countless names because I was thinking about the impression I was creating, and not listening to the person I was meeting. There’s an irony in making a bad impression because you’re too focussed on making a good impression.
  2. Repeat the name back – It’s easy to confirm what you heard by saying something like, “Nice to meet you, Joan.” If the person’s name is a little unusual, you can repeat it to make sure you’re pronouncing it correctly. If you’re unclear about a name given via telephone, ask for the spelling. Saying the name immediately helps lock it in the memory.
  3. Use it often – When you’re speaking with someone you’ve just met, use their name throughout your conversation. End your conversation with their name.
  4. Write it on their forehead – Not literally! Picture the name you’ve just learned on the person’s forehead. Visualizing this incongruous image reinforces the name.
  5. Use word association – Dora the Explorer is easy to remember because of the rhyme pattern. Mike Holmes is easy to remember by playing off his last name; Holmes on Homes. Come up with some sort of word association on a person’s name.
  6. Write it down – The best thing I can do to learn a new name is to write it down. The minute I walk away from the person, I pull out my pocket pad and write the name. 90% of the time, that’s all it takes to seal the name in my mind. The other 10%, I can pull out the pad and refresh my memory.

Our names are important to us. We appreciate those people who, with seeming lack of effort, learn and remember our names. If you want to make a strong impression on the people you meet, make the effort to remember names.

Enhanced by Zemanta