How to Be Less Forgetful: 17 Task Tracking Tips for Business Owners

Memento (Chris Nolan’s masterpiece) is the story of a man who suffers from short term memory loss i.e. he can’t remember anything for more than 15 minutes.  This makes his life somewhat complicated, in that he needs to come up with a system to track his memories.  Interestingly it also simplifies it as having no memories allows him to live his life entirely in the present.   One of the many brilliant aspects of the film is that every time you watch it, it is a slightly different movie, as the memory of it does what memories do – they fade and dissolve and meld with other memories leaving us with an impression which is different from the actual events as they unfold.  This is why eyewitness testimony is often unreliable, and individuals’ recollections tend to vary significantly.

Our particular ability to remember … and forget is unique to all of us.  Some of us never forget a face while being hopeless with names.  Others have trouble with appointmentsor where we left our keys.   I often have trouble finding the right word or forget the entire plot of a movie or book.  (Not to mention  chunks of my life that are completely missing).  Unfortunately , these memory malfunctions tend to get worse with age, so it is important to find ways to fend them off.  From a work and business perspective, forgetting something important can have severe consequences.   Below are some ideas to help you keep track of your tasks:

  1. Use a calendar to track all important events, appointments and activities.  Schedule reminders.
  2. Repeat tasks out loud.
  3. Have a prioritization system.
  4. Keep an ongoing to do list.  For ultimate satisfaction, cross off tasks as they are completed.
  5. Get a filing cabinet and file all your documents in an intuitive, easy to follow system.
  6. Repeat above for files on your computer. Many businesses opt to use a unlimited cloud storage service for organizing files securely.
  7. Make notes of conversations and file appropriately.
  8. Follow up conversations with descriptive emails to maintain a record.
  9. Use voice recorders (handily available on all iphones)
  10. Use project management software/apps
  11. Use time tracking software/apps
  12. Use accounting/personal finance software
  13. Ensure emails titles are descriptive and easily searchable
  14. Keep multitasking to a minimum. 
  15. Sleep helps to improve and cement memories.  Get enough!
  16. Take power naps.
  17. Relax.  Do something fun.

As you experience growth in your business, you need to develop systems to accommodate the increased workload and tasks.    These tend to be a combination of different tools – for me it is an excel spreadsheet where I log all my business tasks, outlook calendar where I keep track of billable time meticulously, organized online and offline files and asking the boyfriend to remind me to get something done (not very effective.) 

This post was inspired by this wonderful poem , “Forgetfulness” by Billy Collins, which I heard on the  The Writer’s Almanac podcast (which I love and adore.  Highly recommend).

What is your system for tracking tasks and ensuring you keep on top of everything? Would love to hear about it in the comments.

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Ronika Khanna is Montreal accountant who helps small businesses achieve their financial goals.  To receive regular updates of articles pertaining to small business, accounting, tax and other topics of interest to business owners you can sign up here.  You can also follow her on Facebook or Twitter