I’m sitting on my couch reading a fiction book a friend of mine gave me when I look over at my plant and realize… it’s time to water it. I figure, well, ok, when I get up for a glass of water, or maybe just after I finish this chapter, or just later, or maybe tomorrow. After I read a little longer, I look back up – again, I remember the plant, and that it needs water right about now – today or tomorrow. So I tell myself I’ll water it for sure if not tonight then tomorrow. Then I get up to get something from the kitchen, and when I come back, I realize the plant is right there.
Finally, and only after reminding myself that “doing something can be easier than not doing!,” do I go into the kitchen, get some water and water the plant, and the one in the next room too.
When you recognize that something needs to be done, and then you put off doing it, you start to occupy the brain with an extra thought. Yes, you can write it down, and then you occupy the brain less. (You’ll only occupy the brain when you return to the list and see “water the plant” on it and then schedule that activity into your day.) But think about it! How long does it take to water the plant? How long does it take to write down “water the plant” and then schedule the time when you’ll do it? EXACTLY!!! :)
This is one of David Allen‘s biggest points: you want to get organized so that your brain has more free time! Less stress on the brain, less minute things to remember and to juggle.
This is like Dave Seah says in describing his father visiting him: “If you clean up after yourself constantly, you will have a clean house! When he walks around the house, he automatically sees things that need to be arranged better or cleaned.”
Maybe it’s starting to sound pretty appealing to just do something at the moment you think of doing it? Maybe it’s starting to sound like an easier way to live? …But what if you start an action (like going through your mail for example) and it turns into too big a project, and then you get behind on your other obligations? That’s a valid concern. David Allen suggests that if something is going to take two minutes – that’s right, two minutes – then do it now. If more, then write it down and plan it.
And the biggest reason to do things rather than putting them off? You can reduce stress on yourself. Trying to remember is occupying your brain. Trying to remember too much may be stressing your brain. In the latest Forbes issue is the article Stress Can Shrink Your Brain. There’s been research on rats that stress physically shrinks parts of the brain. So give your brain a break – don’t burden it with unnecessary stress! Do something rather than remember another ‘todo’ item.