Get it written down

So, let’s be honest for a moment here.  Who has the type of memory that remembers every little detail without a single problem?  Who never needs to get it written down?  Who remembers everyone they have to call, everyone they need to email, all the appointments they have and where they are, the forms that need completing, the shopping that they need to buy?  If you can honestly answer “Me” then I need you to move in with me, please.  If the answer is “my son/daughter can remember everything, including the Director of every film, the engine size of every car and every album a song appears on and what number it is” then welcome to the club.  You now have two options.

  1. Tell your child everything you need to do, by when and how urgent that is and ask them to remind you each day what is needed; or
  2. Read on…..

Get it written down

Now you can call this whatever you want.  Brain Dump.  Mind Clearance.  Parking Lot.  Mischief to Manage.  Regrouping.  Action List.  To Remember.  Whatever works for you.  There is no right or wrong phrase.  Use whatever works for you.

I use Brain Dump (as I am dumping stuff from my brain on to paper) but some people loathe that name.  So let’s focus on what it is rather than what to call it.

We have produced a download (just click on the image below to go to a free pdf download) but this is something you can do with any notebook.  Who needs an excuse to buy a new notebook?

Create two sections.  Things I MUST do and things I would like to do.

Brain Dump for the month ahead

Things I must do.  

This is for the emails you need to send, the phone calls you need to make, forms you need to sign, applications you need to complete, birthday presents/cards you need to buy or send, lunch money to pay – everything you have to do, whether you want to or not.

The things which will create havoc if you don’t do them.

Things I would like to do.

This is for the friends you would like to call, the new restaurant you want to try, the blog posts you want to write, the ideas you have for projects, the books you intend to read, the Boxsets you want to watch, a new hobby or skill you want to learn, ideas for the garden, the book you keep meaning to write, etc.

The things you want to do if you have time but the world will not stop spinning if you don’t get to it immediately.

What next?

Once you have the lists, then the first thing to do is look at the must do list and work out dates they have to be done by.  So, for example, a birthday card by 13th of the month, DLA form to be completed/posted by 10th of next month, etc.

Grab your diary and add the deadlines in and then give yourself a week or two before it’s due and write that in as your start date.

Secondly, highlight what we call “the frogs”.  These are the tasks you have kept putting off.  Maybe it’s a DLA form, calling the CSA, renewing your child’s Blue Badge.  That thing you put off because you either believe it will take hours and hours to complete or because you think it will be an emotional job and you want to be in the right frame of mind.  Accept that the right frame of mind rarely appears at a time when it’s convenient, so in the words of Nike, just do it.

So highlight the frogs!  Acknowledge that you keep putting them off.  Set a completion date.  A date you have to do it by.  Within the next month!  Yes, the next month.  Grab your diary and schedule them in!

Let’s get 2017 off to a good start by getting those jobs out of the way.

Use your notebook

If you haven’t got a diary or new calendar yet, then either create one in a notebook or download one for free here.

One of the things I do is to grab a notebook and then have a page for each month.  In there, I write down the deadlines and things I need to do.  So for example, in January, I know I need to pay two residential trip fees, get my daughter a new school cardigan (why do they have growth spurts just after the school year begins?), I need to renew our Costco membership and send off my Tax Return (this is my big fat Frog).  So I add them in on the month I know they are due and then each month I check that list when writing my to do list.

What about the “things I would like to do” list?

This is just as important as the Must do list.  Honestly.

So every week, choose one of those things and add it to your “must do” list.  Skype a friend, read a chapter of a book, go for a bike ride, watch an episode of a box set, etc.

If one of the items is a new skill to learn, then grab your notebook and list the small steps you need to do to accomplish this.  So, if knitting is the new skill – then you need to buy a ball of wool and some needles, watch a Youtube dvd on how to cast on, practice different stitches, etc.  If learning Braille is the new skill, then learn a letter a week.

Add one of these small steps to your “must do” list every single week.  Doing something for yourself is so important, even if it seems like time wasted.  It isn’t.  Doing anything which means you have to focus on something other than being a parent/carer, will give your brain time to refresh from the stress.  That refresher will enable you to think more clearly and focus on the issues you have.  So although it feels like a decadent thing to do, it actually helps your family too.

We will be helping you to plan your week ahead with another download and suggestions, so don’t forget to sign up for updates.

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Debs Aspland

Mum to three great kids, each with a different SEN. Transplanted from the NW to the SE. Co-founder and Director of Bringing Us Together

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