I believe this to be a curse of even the most productive people. I see that it happens to any of us. .. and it is not easy to avoid it. But it is possible. I will share with you a few of my tricks, maybe they will come in handy.
One thing is to keep focused. Easiest way to do so is to make ahead of time planning sessions. I kind of like David Allen’s approach of weekly review and try my best to be religious about that. Over the years it has proven very valuable, and the only time I do fall of the wagon and behind my in my to-do lists is when I fail to keep this habit up. Those 2-3 hours in a week for planning and time ‘distribution’ are essential and you should give yourself that time. Regardless if you work with some electronic devises or just plain paper.. sit down, cut all external influences off, concentrate, review what you have done, look at what is to be done in a longer run and plan what will get you there, what little steps you need, to keep heading where you want/need to.
Another thing is to be honest with yourself. It is humans natural tendency to find excuses, especially where they are reviewing things done or overdue. Stop wasting time on excuses! finding them consumes energy and time.. and they lead to nowhere. Ok, so you failed to deliver something, you failed to complete this or that. I really does not matter why… what matters is what are you going to do with it from now on. So, get your act together, put the item yet again on your list.. at the top and focus on getting it actually done asap.
Making plans in actual ink and paper is crucial. Regardless of my trusted on-line tool where I keep everything, I still plan on paper. Why? Over the years I have discovered that our brain sees these electronic means as fleeting…pen and paper for some reason seems to be more stable to it. Ergo I first plan on paper then transfer stuff over (as needed). And I keep my plan always with me. It is a constant reminder not to postpone.
Small steps method in Planning. Do plan big. Using small steps does not mean you are not planning BIG.. it only means you are not jumping at the huge idea.. instead building a solid foundation for it. So do split big plan into smaller areas, set time to do them.. and DO!
We all have our ups and downs. Whenever I have my down I repeat to myself “a bee must, a bee does”. Truth is that if I slip off the track I will need to catch up later on.. thus I prefer to do things as soon as possible and not have to remember about them anymore. That also helps keeping on track.
Last but not least… I have tried with reminders…they are cool when you have very tight schedule, but too many of them are a killer to your effectiveness. They detour your mind away from what you were doing, they are disruptive and destabilizing. Though I am a multi-tasker, I choose NOT TO.. cause I would rather get a one job done to perfection than work on 100 little things and get none done properly. Ergo my reminders are limited to bare minimum. I simply check my calendar daily.
Tough it may seem strange coming from me (person working in a GTD and on-line task management for all those years) I still believe pen and paper can be of value.. the key is to use it right.