This post is the fifth - and last - in a five-day series about the three apps I use to manage my life, and the system by which I make them work for me (so my brain is free for more enjoyable things). Interested? Start at the beginning.
You Manage Your System
You've emptied your brain of its tangled mess of "should"s and "must"s. And from that mess has emerged, phoenix-from-the-ashes style, a simple, easily managed system of daily reminders and notes on ongoing projects. You know what's what. Kudos.
I just said "easily managed". Sweet. 'Cos that's what we're talking about today.
Let's knock this thing off quick and get back to dancing in the kitchen, eh?
Step Three: Keep It Running
This is a system that will pretty much run itself, as long as you keep up a leeeetle bit of maintenance.
I like numbered lists. This one goes up to five. The last point's the doozy.
1. Add new items as they come to you.
Think of something else? Add it to an Evernote note, or make a new project note, or RTM schedule it. Given an invitation? Add the relevant info to the relevant app(s), set the appropriate reminders, and throw out the paper invite - you're de-cluttering your mind; it doesn't make sense to allow unnecessary clutter to keep building up in your home.
If you're RTMing it, remember to add any prep tasks, too - like gift buying before a birthday, or trying on last year's bathers before a beach trip, or prosthetic nose fitting before a witness protection program reunion.
2. Examine the situation around overdue RTM tasks. (They're easy to spot - they're the ones with yesterday's - or last week's? - date in red next to them.)
Why is it overdue? Did unforeseen circumstances arise that day? Fair enough. Leave it on today's list, or reschedule it. Did it become unnecessary? Delete it. Is it something you just don't want to do? Try breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks; or re-word it in a more appealing/compelling manner; or consider delegating it; or give yourself a stern talking to. Whatever it takes to get that thing off your list.
Leaving overdue tasks to roll over from day to day to day... that's just going to clutter up your list, and your mind. Find a way to free yourself. Your goal is to have your RTM "Today" list empty each night when your head hits the pillow. (My last task is always a bedtime reminder. It helps as a deterrent against those "just five more minutes" late nights, and it feels great to tick off the last thing on my list as I turn off my light.)
3. Review Evernote.
Set a reminder to do it regularly, unless you completely trust yourself to do it often. I aim to glance over each note at least once a fortnight, and add a reminder if I need to deal with something sooner.
Those notes are there to hold thoughts, ideas, information and future actions outside of your head, until it's time to deal with them. They're not there to store this stuff forever. They're not Ellis Island, but they're not a permanent home, either. Consider them your thoughts' foster homes. They can live there for a while, with regular reviews to make sure everything's going as it should, but sooner or later they're moving on.
As time passes, they'll outgrow their spot in Evernote. They'll mature into lists of RTM-able items, or they'll (okay, this has stopped being a foster home analogy) become obsolete and you'll be able to erase them. A "Christmas Gift Ideas" note becomes pretty useless on the 26th of December, for example - although you may be able to leave in a few unused ideas for next year.
Just don't let your Evernotes gather dust. Okay? Else your brain will know it, and will try to resume management of all the things. And that's back to stressville.
4. Troubleshooting? Allow me.
Got a RTM task that just keeps following you, and can't figure out why it's not getting done? Got an item that you just can't shift out of Ellis Island - maybe not sure how best to categorise it? No idea what I meant by something (or all things) in a particular step? Want in on a Gangnam Style kitchen sesh sometime?
You're welcome to Facebook me with your questions, feedback, amusing anecdotes, etc. All criticisms will be filed appropriately*.
*dismissed immediately and with great amusement.
5. Enjoy your new capacity for enjoying life.
Seriously. Set a reminder if you think you need to. It'd be silly to do all that work, and free yourself of all that mental clutter, and then forget to enjoy it.
Off you go. Go on, go dance in your kitchen. Bare feet, windows open, tunes on. You've got nothing to worry about.