I lose track of my thoughts… all the time.
I lose track of my thoughts in the middle of an activity, in the middle of a sentence, in the middle of, well, a thought.
Usually I can figure out what I was trying to do and keep going, but with thoughts that aren’t specifically related to what I’m currently doing, sometimes they’ll disappear entirely and I won’t remember for weeks that I was trying to do something.
As well, once I get focused on a task, I’ll get so into it that I’ll forget to do… everything else until the task is done, or something brings me out of it.
For example, the other day I bought a cookie, got home, sat it on my table, and then proceeded to get distracted by cleaning my bedroom. It wasn’t until a week later that something jogged my mind and I even remembered I bought a cookie, and by that point it was too stale to eat.
For these reasons, it has been very important for me to find ways to manage my tasks, so I don’t forget to do something important, or waste time I don’t need to on an unimportant task.
One of the main ways I’ve found to stay on track is to write everything down. There are a few different ways that I do this:
1) Write a plan for what I’m currently doing
When I start a task, I will scribble down somewhere what it is that I’m doing and what I need to do to finish it.
If I’m working on an assignment, this may be as simple as “research topic and write report”, but sometimes it can be more detailed. If its a more complex assignment with many steps and parts along the way, I’ll have to write down more detail on what I’m trying to do.
For assignments, I’ll also write down the important requirements for the assignment, so that I don’t forget to include them as I complete the assignment. For example, “5-10 pages, don’t forget to answer the additional questions that were posted online.”
This isn’t just for school, though. I’ll also do the same thing for tasks outside of school. For example if I’m going to clean, I’ll write down “wash kitchen counters and sink”. This usually works to keep me focused on the specific task I want to do. Otherwise, I may find myself trying to clean the kitchen, but ending up vacuuming my bedroom floor. As far as problems go, it’s not a huge one, but if I set out to clean my counters, then I want my counters cleaned.
2) Write a plan for what I want to do
This is a way for me to plan out the time I have and what I need to do with it.
In the morning or in class, at work or on the bus, wherever I am and whenever I remember something that I need to do, I’ll set myself a notification to remind me to do it at a good time later on.
For example, if in class I remember I have a quiz I need to complete before tomorrow, I’ll pull out my phone and set it to remind me of the quiz at 3:30 when I’m done class. This gives me time to do the quiz early on, or push it off to later if I choose to. This way I know I won’t forget to do it, or remember at the last minute and have to scramble to complete it.
As well, if I want to stop at the store on my way home, I’ll set a reminder for 10 minutes before my day is done to remind me to stop.
I’ll also set reminders for smaller things to, for example “do laundry”, “open blinds”, “text mom”. This reminds me to get things done, so I don’t go home and immediately fall into a “do nothing” slump.
3) Write down what I need to do
This is the long term version of point #2. It’s the way I remember that I have things that I need to do.
I’ll write down assignments, midterms, tasks, that I have to do, so later on I can consult this list, and incorporate the current things into my daily to-do list.
If I have a midterm in 2 months, I’ll add it to my calendar, and then the week before I’ll start incorporating “study for midterm” as a daily reminder in my routine.
As well, if I need to pack for a trip I’m going on next week, I’ll add “pack for trip” to this list, and when I have the time in my day to pack, I’ll add a reminder for that night to pack things up.
This is the list of things that need to get done, but don’t necessarily need to be done right now.
Overall, my technique is to keep things simple, and to rely on things other than my own brain (which can be forgetful and distractible) to remind me to get things done. I plan from a big chaotic list of tasks, and then slowly focus down as I actually start to check things off the list.