When you make a commitment, how d0 you follow-through? How often have you told yourself, “Oh, I’ll remember that.”, but then later realized that you forgot? Everyone has the good intent of remembering or doing it later. How often do you really remember? It’s amazing how complex our brains are and how much information can be stored but I still forget the thing I said we would do yesterday.
I have a system for any commitment.
- Write it down. It all starts with writing it down. I carry a small notebook with me to record any commitment. I write down as much detail about what I need to do. For years I used a FranklinCovey® binder but have recently moved to a Moleskine® notebook.
- Transfer notes to a list. I review my notes at least daily (each morning) as I plan my day. I prioritize my list of commitments and action with the most important ones first. I only have one list (no post-its).
- Mark it complete. Nothing comes off the list until I do it.
When I make a commitment, I ask myself, “Am I really going to do it?”
- If the answer is no, I try to be honest with myself and with the person I commit to. I don’t commit if I don’t really expect to do it.
- If I really intend to do it, I write it down. I write it down right now. I do not wait or convince myself that I will remember. I write it down now.
Don’t be fooled after you get in the habit of writing down your commitments. Because you are writing down your commitments, you will tend to remember more. Writing things is an additional connection to your brain. Many times the act of writing is enough to remember later what you said you would do. At some point you may think that your memory is better. You start remembering without referring back to your notes. Once you stop writing down your commitments, you will begin to forget again. It is an evil natural cycle to keep you from doing what your commit to doing. Don’t fall for it.
You don’t necessarily have to write down your commitments. You simply need to record it in some medium. Leave a voicemail for yourself or make a recording on your smart phone. Sure you don’t like listening to your voice, but get over it. It is a great method for when I can’t write it down. Later when I listen to the recording, I add it to my prioritized list.
I even go the extra step and schedule what I commit to into my schedule. I block time when I will focus on completing the commitment.
How do you ensure that you do what you promise?
Have you ever made a commitment but forgot to do it?