“Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.”
-- George Santayana
How can we manage chaos to reduce our mental confusion and stress, and improve our efficiency?
In our busy lives, we often have to manage a flood of ideas, facts and messages from family members, bosses, staff, clients, colleagues, suppliers and friends. We have to juggle meetings, projects, budgets, phone calls, appointments and unexpected emergencies. And we also need to manage our inner activity. We don’t want to lose those thoughts, plans and creative ideas that flash on our mental screens on their own schedules.
The solution? LOG SHEETS.
The only way to manage large amounts of chaos is CHRONOLOGICALLY -- as it happens. Log sheets help you give structure to the chaos. They help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. I have used them daily for decades and have supported hundreds of people in organizing their chaos. A log sheet can fit many different learning and processing styles. It can manage your ideas, projects, calls, staff, prospects, customers – whatever overwhelms you.
Create your own log sheet or use the form I have created – The ONE log form at http://www.journalingtools.com/mon/tools/ChronoLog.pdf. To create a simple one for yourself, draw 4 columns on a page of lined, 3 ring paper. Title the columns Date/Time, Key, Notes and Reference, with the Notes column being at least half of the page in width. Create a few sheets like this, using both sides of each sheet of paper. Once the system works for you, you can create a master ‘Log Sheet’ form and photocopy it onto both sides.
TO USE THE LOG SHEET, first enter the date and time (optional). Keep it with you as much as possible. As things occur -- ideas, to do’s, phone messages, meeting notes, questions, etc., log the information on these sheets only. No more notes and stickies scattered around different places. Record all your information in one place – chronologically. Add a title (Key), like the name of the person involved, so you can find information quickly. Then write your details in the Notes column. You may also want to use the reference column for cross referencing, delegation names, external file reference, etc.
When action items come up, like a need to return a phone call or an idea that needs attention, draw a circle on the far left or right side to signify action needed. When the activity has been completed, place a checkmark in the empty circle. You now have a real time audit trail and action or ‘to do’ sheet -- ALL IN ONE PLACE.
This process captures, categorizes, sorts, flags, prioritizes, references and links – all on one line. Try it out and let us know how it works for you. Remember if it is in sight, it is in mind and you naturally stay on top of what needs your attention.
“Order is power.” -- Henri Frederic Amiel
Use the log sheet as a dumping ground, a catch-all. If it is in site, it is in mind.
- For each new day, go to the last entry and draw a horizontal line. Start your day by entering the date and reviewing the last few pages for outstanding to do items (empty circles) and either rewrite or add new ‘to do’ items for the day. As you complete them check off the ‘to do’ circles.
- Review the last day or week of notes and write a summary or review. The Key would be ‘review’.
- If the phone rings, in the next empty line, enter the persons name as the Key and write your notes and if there is action, add a circle that only gets checked off when you complete the action.
- Relax and open up and ask for new ideas or guidance and write them down with a Key as ‘ideas’.
- Doodling is a great way to let symbols, how things relate and ideas come out. Use the Log sheets as a creativity journal or even a meditation journal.
Check out our other 40 Journaling Tools for personal growth.