You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached

Ever feel like that? I feel like that… um, on a regular basis. Pretty much every day.

Do you ever feel like this?

Do you ever feel like this?

There is so much minutiae in our lives (don’t you love that word “minutiae?”) that it’s sometimes overwhelming. Actually, it’s often overwhelming. There are groceries to get–or in my case, since my DH does the shopping (bless him!), groceries to remember to put on the store list, or he won’t get them. This is why, as I write this, we are collecting kitchen trash in one of those little grocery store plastic bags. No one remembered to put “trash bags” on the list.

There are appointments to remember–dentists, doctors, the tax accountant. My husband’s in the process of doing some work on the garage, so there are things to remember related to that. There are school projects for our daughter, and programs we want to attend for her. There are things to do related to those appointments–medical info to collect, tax info to collect (and with three businesses, there’s a lot of that), lists of things that need to be done to the garage by the construction guy. Oh, and we’re almost out of turtle food. And will you pick up this prescription on the way home?

And that’s not even counting my to-do list relating to my books and being an author–a to-do list that’s even larger when you’re also your own publisher. I thought I had a lot to remember before I published. I’d always heard that it got worse after you published, but that’s one of those things, like having a kid, that you know mentally before, but have no idea until you have one, how much more there is to do. (And like kids, it’s very worthwhile, so I’m not complaining, just explaining.)

Add in the holidays, and there are presents to buy, parties to attend (or host, with all the additional things to remember for that), kids’ programs to see, wrapping to do, cards to buy, sign, seal and send….

Just typing that is making me stressed, and it’s over until December comes back around!

How do you manage it all?

I used to write notes. But there were problems with that. One, there ended up being notes lying all over the place. My husband still does this, and our daughter and I are constantly clearing the clutter, tiny slips of paper, used envelopes, sticky notes with a phone number or a cryptic few words scrawled on it. When I ask him if he still needs them, he almost never does, but invariably, if one gets tossed without us checking first, that’s one he still needs. As for me, when this was my MO, the biggest problem with the notes wasn’t even the clutter, but I’d lose the note.

One year my company bought me a big, thick day planner, but it was so big and thick (and heavy), it never left my desk. It did help me with stuff I had to do there, but did little that a to-do list I’d scribble on a piece of paper didn’t.

Cozi Planner screenshot

My Cozi to-do list: It’s frightening

Now we have Cozi Organizer to help, but even that’s imperfect. First, we have to remember to put something on it to begin with (trash bags?). Then, if it’s an appointment, we can put in a reminder that will ring an alert on our phone or email us at the specified amount of time before it, but that only helps when I’m actually sitting next to my phone and hear the notification when it goes off. My daughter got a tablet computer for Christmas, and one of the first apps she downloaded was Cozi. She’d used it on her computer before, but that only helped if she was actually sitting at her computer when she thought of something to add to it, or if she had her phone in hand when a text notification came in. The tablet is in her hands enough that this will help, one hopes. 😀

What do you do to rein in all the minutiae of day-to-day life? Do you take it in stride, or are you constantly in danger of forgetting something, like I am? What tools do you use to help, and how do you get the most out of them? Please tell me I’m not alone in feeling like the person in the photo!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.


18 Responses to \

  1. I put books in a box. I put the card game in the box. I put other stuff my friend wanted in the box. I put a note on the counter to remember box. I left for my friend’s house (who lives in Columbus) and left the box! Needless to say, she’ll have to wait a bit longer before she can read the Hunger Games trilogy!

    We do have a white board where we write important stuff, too (i.e. PAY BILLS or LAUNDRY), but otherwise, I rely on the wall calendar and those pesky notes. Next time I might just have to put the box in the car, but then we’d probably change our minds and take a different car (it’s been known to happen).

  2. My husband has a white board because that lets me write things on it for him as well as him adding things. I personally use a day planner, but it’s far from perfect because half the time I forget where I set it and the other half of the time, I forget to look in it!

  3. I love lists, but for the last several months have been mostly ignoring them and taking a lot of time transferring unfinished items to the next list. Mostly I try to think of the top 3 things that have to be done and then do them. Except then I have a lot of things that fall through–like trash bags. So no perfect system here. 🙂

  4. Stacy, that is exactly what would happen to me – I’d forget the box!

    Marcy, that has happened to me with the day planner, too. If I used a white board with my family, they’d do stuff then not erase it, too. LOL!

    Coleen, I used to shuffle the unfinished stuff, too, until I ended up making a secondary list on Cozi, of stuff that needs to be done eventually, but doesn’t need to be in front of me (and overwhelming me) all the time. It helps – provided I remember to check it every now and then!

  5. I write little notes too. And lists. And put things on my phone calendar. I pretty much do all of the things you mentioned above. Usually I make a nice list of things to do for the day and then I go off and leave the note sitting on the kitchen counter at home, even though I’ve left it right next to my purse so I won’t forget it. (sigh)

    At least I remember the big things, like going to work. I never forget to do that. Or feeding the pets. I don’t forget to do that, but sometimes my husband and I both feed the dog because neither communicates with the other first. Our dog loves those days.

    I think that fact that we’re aware of all the minutiae (good word indeed) means we’re less likely to forget something. I wish I’d forget a meal every once in a while, but alas I almost always seem to remember to eat.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  6. You’re not alone. I, too, am regularly in danger of forgetting something important and blamed it on my advancing age. You’re younger than me and seem equally forgetful, Jennette, so maybe I’m not slipping into senility. Whew!Thanks for this post.

  7. LOL Patricia – my brother forgets to eat sometimes, but unfortunately, I never do!

    Pat, either you don’t have anything to worry about, or I have a more than I thought, LOL!

  8. I use the Cozi app on my laptop and phone. But I have to admit that now and then when life is a little crazy…I’ve been known to write on my arm. *hangs head in shame* There’s got to be something better!

  9. This is an issue for me, too. Lately, I’ve been giving time management lots of attention, reading up on the subject. For helping me think through goals, I love Very simple interface, but not ideal for To Do lists. It’s more like my dream space.

    I’m currently using The Action Machine time box software for setting objectives each day with a time limit. Having that timer really focuses my attention on the task at hand.

    Remembering things that need to be done and managing time have to be two of the hardest tasks you can name. Good luck, Jennette!

  10. LOL Julie – my daughter writes on her hand/arm a lot!

    Kathrese, workflowy and the Action Machine sound interesting – I’ll have to check them out, thanks!

  11. Well, I’m a lot like your husband in the way I take care of things, apparently. I am guilty of the sticky note scribbling. I write everything on sticky notes or whatever is around me to write on, like the backs of envelopes or magazines. Luckily for me it works because I am such a visual person that once I write it down I can usually recall the picture of the note, and where I stuck it, in my head. And I try and train my brain to remember important things so I don’t have to write them down. So far it’s working for me. This year I have also started using a planner. But I really only use it for writing down vacation days. 🙂

  12. Jeannette, I didn’t tell you you could use my portrait. LOL Yeah, I resemble this. I thought I’d get my head back this year — started using a big calendar planner. But you all seem to think this doesn’t work. Actually I have had a ‘to do’ list and alarm reminders on my computer and phone for years. One alarm actually reminds me to leave work (yeah, Im that focused – okay really, it’s absentmindedness). What is working right now is putting the 3 most important things to get done on my planner first thing in the morning – and I am getting those things done and sometimes one more item. Maybe this is because it’s a new system, once I get more comfortable with it I’ll start forgetting it, too!

  13. Weekends are the killer for me. Friday night may end up being an impromptu date night. I almost always over-schedule Saturday. By Sunday night, I’m throwing out the lengthy to-do list I made up and rewriting it from scratch.

    Now I have a rule. Nothing more than 2 weeks out.

  14. Emma, maybe my husband visualizes the notes too and that’s why they work for him – I’ll have to ask!

    Lynette, who knows, the planner calendar might work for you! I think they do for a lot of people – just not me. I like your three things plan – I might have to try that!

    Jim, I hear you on the weekends! There’s always the unexpected. I’m guilty of overscheduling them too. Good idea on the 2 weeks out!

  15. Oh Jen, I’m afraid I am like your husband. I have a pile of sticky notes on my desk and it keeps getting bigger by the day and I’m afraid to throw the notes away because you would just know that the one note I would throw away I would end up needing. What is cozi? I’ve never heard of it? I can download it onto my computer? Really? This could save my life. I will go look for it. Thanks Jennette!Best wishes on your lists! 🙂

  16. LOL Karen – it would help if I’d have included the link, huh? Cozi is at I use it on my smartphone too – it’s great because I often think of something I need to do at home, when I’m at work. Hope it helps you!

  17. I have a tediously simple process for remembering things. People rant at me when I haven’t done something I was supposed to do it. Then I go and do it. I’ve tried palm pilots, phones, voice recorders (always felt weird with that one) and never found anything that fills in for my feeble memory!