Paella and Productivity

3 Key Ingredients to Add to Your Day So You Can Stop Trying to Remember What You’re About to Forget

Paella I recently created a fabulous recipe. I made it up, as I do most dishes. I “ooh-ed” and “ahh-ed” over it for two meals and then considered making it again soon thereafter.

But did I write it down?

Of course not. That would have been the smart thing to do, right?

I found myself telling my Mom about what a great dish it turned out to be the day after I made it and then proceeded to leave out a few key ingredients, even as I was telling her what was in it. (It was a good thing she wasn’t writing it down to make it herself!)

Then over the weekend, I found myself repeatedly trying to remember what my brain was trying not to forget. Over and over again – at least 5 more times that weekend – my mind shouted, “I have to remember to write that recipe down!” But I didn’t stop to do it.

Even as I typed the original draft of this article, I hadn’t written it down. Thankfully, by the time the next weekend arrived, I had noted the recipe, made the dish again and took the photo above. (And by the way, it was my version of a Seafood Paella and if you’d like the recipe, send me an e-mail at and I’ll send it to you!)

During that first weekend, my brain came to the rescue every time, but I probably wore it out and used up tons of energy that I could have otherwise used for something else more productive.

Why is it sometimes so hard to stop what you’re doing to simply write something down? Was it because I was sure I’d remember? Of course. But how foolish…

My clients – and maybe you! – are doing the same thing. You’re just doing it in your work day, not in your kitchen. You’re busy getting things done, reacting to your day around you, bouncing from meeting to meeting, and answering e-mail after e-mail. But then you find you’re forgetting important tasks, misplacing important papers on your desk and losing ground on the systems meant to support you so you can be your best on the job.

Could this be because you don’t have a reliable way to track your to-dos? Nowhere to put all those great ideas? Or is it just too daunting to think about tracking everything you really have to do?

Well, I hate to break it to you, but keeping a lot of things in your head is a gamble. Without a complete and up to date (and electronic) Task list, you can say goodbye to your most productive work day, complete with the certainty, control, and clarity you really need to be at your best.

And yet… you may not know what you’re really missing by not having this complete, up-to-date Task list because you’ve never had one before. Let me shed some light on the possibilities for you.

Below I’ve listed 3 big risks that occur specifically when you aren’t tracking all of your tasks on an electronic task list and you try to keep it a lot in your head. Then I added the key ingredients that can change everything, giving you a much more satisfying and productive work day.

  1. Regrettable Risk: You’re prevented from properly prioritizing.
    If you fail to note to-dos and you forget a handful of to-dos, it can destroy your ability to prioritize correctly because you’re only working off of partial knowledge. You’re only going to be able to choose from the tasks you remember and what you’re working on right now may not be the best use of your time if you don’t remember the things you forgot.Key ingredient for productivity and success: Certainty
    When you take the time to load up an electronic task list with everything you need to do, have to do, or want to do, you can acquire more certainty. You’re certain that each and every one of those actions you want to take are in a system you trust, which includes the date you target taking action.
  2. Regrettable Risk: You can lose control of the outcomes.
    Less than optimal outcomes can result from not spending enough time to note opportunities and next action steps to make sales, problem-solve, engage in follow-ups, answer questions, track key information, and more.
    Key ingredient for productivity and success: Control

    You can acquire more control by stopping for 1 minute (maybe 2) after every phone call, every encounter with another person, every e-mail and every meeting to note new contact or calendar information and what action steps you need to take as a result of the conversation or meeting. If you don’t take the time to do this, all those details can be easily lost… and so will the opportunities.
  3. Regrettable Risk: You can lose sight of the big picture.
    When you’re floating around in a work day fog, you can easily lose the connection between the to-dos you pursue and your overall objectives. The less clear you are on exactly what you need to do from day to day, the more reactive your day will be. You’ll be rolling along with the e-mail/phone call/interruption tide and before you know it, your day is gone and you’ve spent time on things that really aren’t moving you closer to your goals.Key ingredient for productivity and success: Clarity
    Capture all the tasks, projects, reminders, deadlines, and to-dos you’re responsible for. Capture all the facts. With more facts, you’ll have a clearer sense of what you need to do and what you should be doing. Then you can choose what not to do, which is just as important as what you choose to do.

Is trying to keep things in your head really worth all the risks? I say “no” because your deadlines, opportunities and business growth are at stake. My memory was only trying to hold onto a recipe… but it was a good one.


The best way to stay in control of your priorities and great ideas is to start your Task list in Outlook. How? Grab your copy of my e-book Get More Done… Now! and start your own recipe for work day success today. Click here to Get More Done… Now!

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