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3 Simple Tricks to Prevent you from Losing Your Lists

3 Simple Tricks to Prevent you from Losing Your Lists

“I can’t find that list I created” is a common problem that occurs if you’re a list maker. Often, we create a lot of lists and when we can’t find them, we end up creating similar or duplicate lists. It doesn’t matter if all the lists are kept in the same place, we still end up with duplicate lists because it becomes painful to go through each list just to find the thing that we are afte. The technique is to Categorize; add a Convention and Flag your lists. This mini toolbox of tricks should be usable on any app. Here’s the simple trick I use –

Categorize Your Lists

Whenever I create a list, I always put it into a category. This makes it easy to identify what the list is about, whether it’s a movie list, a book list, web articles to read, shopping list or a bucket list. It’s important to ensure that you consistently use the same categories for the types of lists that you create.

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Why would you want to do this? An example for myself is movies. I list out all the movies I would like to watch into different genres and sometimes into different years. Why not create a sublist? The issue is that they are not always searchable, some apps don’t search in your sublists and since this technique can be applied across all apps, it means you don’t have to be stuck to using any specific tool. That means if you change tools, you can still use this technique.

Create a Naming Convention

It’s important to be consistent about how you name your lists, it makes them easier to sort through and easier to search. So now that you have thought up some categories, when you create you lists put them in square brackets. e.g. [Movies] Comedies 2010. You instantly know that this list is about movies and comedies. You don’t have to use square brackets, you can use any identifier you want e.g. {Movies} or <Movies> or !Movies! anything that makes it easier for you to see.

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Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 12.15.51 PM

    From the above example, you can see I’ve categorized my lists with Movie, Shopping, Books, People, Christmas, New year, Recipes, Videos etc. It’s easy for me to identify what the main purpose of the list is for.

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    Search Becomes Easier

    Search becomes a lot easier. Can’t remember what you called the list? Well you should be able to remember the category, so if I’m looking for a recipe, but can’t remember the name of the recipe, and also can’t remember the name of the list I put it in, then I can search for the category. Now I have some clues which should help me to remember which list it is in, or at least it will reduce the amount of searching I have to do to find that recipe.

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    Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 12.16.33 PM

      I can select the appropriate list that the recipe would be under. I’m demonstrating this using Listible, but this technique should work in any list app.

      Flagging Important Lists

      If you use lists to prioritize what you want to accomplish, you can use advanced identifiers. For example you can place an asterix hash (*#) in front of the list name. This makes it easier to see visually, and also easy to search for the ‘important tasks that need to be accomplished.

      Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 6.01.21 PM

        These techniques work on file based lists, so even if you are keeping your lists on your mac or windows pc inside word documents or spreadsheets, using this technique will still make it easier to know what your lists are about, how important they are, and makes them easily searchable. So remember, the technique is to Categorize, to Convention and to Flag your list names.

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        Last Updated on June 18, 2019

        The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

        The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

        No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

        Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

        Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

        A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

        Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

        In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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        From Making Reminders to Building Habits

        A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

        For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

        This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

        The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

        That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

        Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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        The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

        Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

        But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

        The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

        The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

        A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

        For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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        But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

        If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

        For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

        These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

        For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

        How to Make a Reminder Works for You

        Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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        Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

        Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

        My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

        Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

        I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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