If you've got a good memory, then I'm very jealous because my memory is terrible. In fact, my memory is so bad, that I almost never forget anything: I write everything down in order to remember it and if, like me, you live by your "To Do" list, you'll know how essential it is.
I really envy people who remember everything, it must be lovely to have such a gift (or maybe it's a skill that I just haven't acquired, I'm not sure).
I got into the habit of writing things down years ago and it works very well for me. It has additional benefits of letting me prioritise, keeping me on track, providing motivation and, as a discovered a few years ago, keeping my stress levels in check.
So how can a "To Do" list reduce stress? Many people might feel more stressed by having a list to remind them of all the tasks they still have to work their way through.
Well it's simple really, if the job/task/inspiration/reminder is written down on a piece of paper, it means your brain has space for thinking (rather than remembering).
If you're keeping all the things you've got to do in your head, it's the equivalent of having lots of cookie files clogging up your hard drive.
It slows down your thinking - there's always a part of your mind that's not on the task at hand, but rather checking your memory banks for all the stuff you've got to do.
It stifles creativity - I remember hearing Deepak Chopra say that creativity happens in the space between thoughts (Einstein developed the theory of relativity while lying back, watching clouds pass in the sky). A quiet, still brain is likely to be more creative than a busy brain that never stops.
It is distracting - it becomes very easy to lose sight of your priorities because you're juggling so many different elements and priorities in your head. You may find that you spend an inordinate amount of time and energy of things that really get you nowhere fast.
And most important of all ...
It's stress inducing - and the more things you've given yourself to remember, the more stressed you're likely to be. Because your brain gives every task the same level of importance. So buying butter next time you go to the supermarket, gets the same level of importance in your head as preparing for your appraisal review. Try it out:
1) Take a moment to work out how you feel in terms of stress/anxiety about all the things you know you have stored in your head. Rate that feeling from 1 (low) - 10 (high).
2) Now do a brain-dump: get a pen and paper and write down everything that you've been thinking about or know you need to remember or do. Don't stop until you know you've got everything out of your head.
3) Take a moment to notice how it feels not to have to think about those things that you've just taken time to write down.
4) Now take your list and refine it. There are lots of sophisticated time management and productivity techniques for managing your list, but I'd suggest that you at least ask yourself what will happen if you don't do that task now, or in the future? If there's no significant consequence score it off the list of have a really good reason why it's there.
A good memory is a wonderful thing, but it can be a curse as well, if it leads you to keep things in your head if the accumulated memory feat results in increasing your stress levels.
Remember a creative mind is an empty mind!
Lothian Reflexology, for mind, body and beauty