Thursday, September 23, 2004

Choosing a Signature Tool

We have all been to workshops where we heard some good ideas and had full intentions of implementing them. When we leave the workshop and step back into our lives where things are coming at us from all directions, so many of those good intentions go by the wayside.

The best minds in the area of professional development keep telling us that for things to "stick," there has to be follow-up and time to practice. That's the whole reason for establishing this blog. This is a place where we can review material from the workshop. It also gives me the opportunity to bring these ideas to people I would never meet face-to-face.

If I could isolate one idea as being the most important from the workshop, it would be that of having a "signature tool" that does your remembering for you. That tool could be a Day-Timer, a legal pad, a notepad in your pocket, or a handheld digital device. Any of them work provided: 1) you have your signature tool with you all the time; and 2) you have formed the habit of writing down that appointment, to-do or idea immediately.

The idea seems simple, yet so many people ignore it and try to simply hope they will remember it all. While we may have gotten by with this approach as late as our college days, it simply doesn’t work in our busy day-to-day lives. We wind up with sleepless nights wondering what we have forgotten, or waking up in the middle of the night remembering what we forgot to do.

Others write things down but do it on any scrap of paper at hand. With pockets full of Post-its and various slips of paper scattered everywhere, putting our hands on the telephone number of the salesman we spoke with last Tuesday is impossible.

What will that “signature tool” be for you? Make a decision on that. Make sure it is something that will hold your calendar items—that is, things that happen at a specific day and time. Make sure you have room for your to-do list. Also, you will need a place to write down ideas or notes from meetings and phone conversations.

Forming a habit takes about a month. So, for the next several weeks having that capture tool handy and using it will be something you will force yourself to do. After that, habit takes over, and you will begin to notice a good deal of the stress in your life will start to vanish.
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