My apologies if this post is a little disjointed. I am recovering from a minor surgery and not sure all the drugs are out of my system yet. Funny how drugs can affect someone's thinking. Just say no. :) Now, on to today's topic.
The blogger at Simple Organized Living wrote a fantastic post about why she writes everything down. Go read it when you get a chance. :) http://www.simpleorganizedliving.com/2012/06/04/why-i-write-everything-down-and-how-i-do-it/. She makes good points.
My reason for writing things down is simple (and not the same as the Simple Organized Living blogger). I forget everything.
My ACT score is amazing, I made good grades in school, and I never forgot my homework. I show up, on time, for play dates - and bring a packed healthy snack and enough change to pay for admission. I am considered by most people to be hyper responsible. In reality, my brain is one of those big silver colanders that lets everything just slip right through. Spaghetti all over the sink. (Dammit. Now I have to write down "clean the sink.") I have a really bad memory. I don't encode things that I think or hear very well. However, I encode things that I write down. Once I write a fact down, I remember it. And if I don't, it's in my planner. So writing down is mandatory for me. My ACT score? Mostly a component of actually taking notes, even in math class. Oh, and I read REALLY fast.
So I write down my daily chores, so that I don't have to think about it. I write a list of all the errands that I need to run, another of things that need to be done on a computer, another of general to dos, and another of things that can only be done at home. I write food on the shopping list when we are close to running out. I write down appointments and notes from doctor visits and writing ideas and steps to job applications. I write down gift ideas and what gifts I've given. I write down bills due and bills paid. About the only thing I don't write down is the stuff that I am going to do instantly.
Archival information of stuff that already happened is a major part of my write-it-down philosophy. For some, this sounds like a huge waste of time. But it has saved me so many times and is such a good habit that I truly encourage everyone to start writing things down. For me, the hardest is writing down things that already happened. I never used to keep old task lists, calendars, or doctor's notes, but now that I do, it is such valuable information. I find that I have to look back in my calendar all the time. Did the insomnia start when a new med started? I can check. When did I last see the dentist? I can check. What did the teacher say to work on with my kid this summer? See notes from our last parent/teacher conference. Archival writing in a planner is something many people don't do (although the blogger Laurie at http://www.plannerisms.com once explained that it's quite a trend in Europe), but it really helps me keep track of things and remember them, and it only takes a minute in each instance.
Dedicate one day to writing down not just what you have to do/attend/buy, but also make notes about your day. Check off that you paid the mortgage and jot the check number right next to it, right there on the task list. Note the call to your sister where you discussed that you would buy dad's Father's Day gift, along with the budget for the gift and an errand task to buy the gift. Later, when you buy exactly what you discussed, there won't be any misunderstandings. Log how much you spend each day. That's a big one for giving you perspective. When you call the insurance about the wreck (into an old ladies air conditioner...shut up, that a/c jumped right out in front of my car!), jot notes of who you talked to and when.
You don't need a fancy filing system for most of this. Just jot it right on your weekly calendar. (I am making a separate page for a spending journal and for the car accident.) You don't need to log every single thing, but make logs of the easy stuff to log or particularly important and I bet you will use at least one of those log entries in the next month. If you rely on just one log a day in the future, it'll be worth the effort 365 times in the next year!