*This post is part of our special week-long Father’s Day series, featuring notable Dad writers.
There’s at least one thing I know about life: It moves fast and there are too many moving parts.
From the kitchen to the corporate office, it’s the same wherever you are. I felt it when I was the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers—and maybe even more when I worked from home on my own small business. There are appointments, to-dos, deadlines, rare moments of silence, and lots of interruptions.
Whether it comes from kids or coworkers, clients or friends, sometimes life feels like an unruly parade of demands, requests, and needs. There are days it’s impossible to get anything done because you’re too busy playing whack-a-mole.
But in the middle of the flurry, there’s at least one thing you can do to keep your sanity and get things done: Get it all down.
I’ve found that “getting it down” helps me keep my head up and focus on what matters most — like the people in front of me.
My daughter’s wedding
Anything important, useful, timely, sensitive, actionable — don’t fail to capture it.
Getting it down helps in at least three ways:
- Stress. You can’t keep all the to-dos and demands in your head. There’s no way to remember it all, and trying to do it just adds unnecessary stress. Getting it down frees you up to actually think productively about your tasks and challenges, instead of chasing down lost trains of thought.
- Priority. Once you get it down you can sort out what’s most important. If you can’t see all the items at once, prioritizing them is practically impossible. You’re sure to spend time on things that don’t need to be done and miss a chance to spend valuable time on the truly valuable.
- Accomplishment. This is my favorite part. Once you’ve done, you can cross it off or delete it. There’s nothing more satisfying than finishing a project that’s been hanging out in front of you. Getting it down means you get to move it off when you’re done and take a moment to revel in the accomplishment.
There are lots of ways to get stuff down. Post-It notes work for some. Yellow-legal pads work for others. I like Moleskine notebooks, but there’s something I think beats them all.
The best note taking system I’ve found is Evernote.
It’s a free app that works with your laptop, desktop, tablet, and phone. It syncs up all your notes so you can access them anywhere: the coffee shop, the office, the carpool line, or the living room. You can pay a small fee each month to get expanded capabilities. I personally do this and it’s well worth it.
Here are some things that I think are especially helpful about Evernote:
- You can share virtual notebooks with people like a spouse or a coworker so you can literally be on the same page about things happening in your life or business.
- You can email notes to people directly from Evernote. If you jot down a to-do or think of something you need, you can simply forward the note as needed.
- And this is cool. In the newest version of Evernote you can now set reminders. I use another app for this called Nozbe; it’s great. But the new feature in Evernote itself is super easy to use and great for helping organize your tasks and set your priorities.
And did I mention that it’s free? It’s worth mentioning again.
The secret to getting things done is getting things down. It’s one of the best ways I know to drop your stress level and give you more margin in your day.