Who Does Your Remembering, Retrieving, And Reminding?
By David Allen
Your system has to be as good as your mind in order for your system to give your mind freedom. If your organization has leaks or incomplete processes and data, your mind will still be burdened with the task of remembering, retrieving, and reminding you. And (if you haven't noticed) it often remembers, retrieves, and reminds at awkward, inappropriate, and useless times and in ineffective and incomplete ways. Not a good staffing decision.
The reason to have external objective systems to track our commitments, agreements, options, ideas, and information is to leverage our mind's capabilities. We want to free up our creative mental process to produce potentially valuable thoughts about whatever we direct it toward, and to eliminate the stress and distraction of thinking about things we can't do anything about at the moment.
The problem is, our mind cannot and will not give up the job of remembering, reminding, and retrieving unless it trusts that job is being handled by a system that does it as well or better. It can't advance until that job has been filled.
Two things have to be in place in order to have your mind let go: (1) all the things that we have our attention on (little or big) have to be captured in the system; and (2) we have to know that what's in the system will be reviewed at the appropriate time and place.
The biggest frustration about this syndrome is that with only a portion really tracked and managed, we don't know what's missing, and the mind cannot really let go. Then we have all the trouble and investment of trying to keep up with organizational systems that still don't really give us the payoff we've invested in them for.
No wonder there's so much interest in, and yet so much disappointment with personal organization education and tools. At some point we'll look back and wonder why on earth we didn't always keep it all out of our heads.