I need to have a mental map of everything I have to do, in order to be able to get on and do things. Without one, I flounder around and lose track.
If I am going to get on with – say – cleaning the kitchen, I need to know that – yes – I have to clean the living room, but that can wait until tomorrow so long as I remove the dead mouse, and that although I’m going to paint the kitchen, it won’t be before the next free Saturday with dry weather.
All the things I have to do are neatly arranged in relation to each other and to calender dates and other events on my mental map, like squadrons of Spitfires at Bomber Command.
Sometimes it’s a mind-map, sometimes it’s a project plan, sometimes its a flow-chart, sometimes it’s just a really well internalised list, but if I don’t have that map in one form or another things get forgotten and this has been happening more and more recently. What with having time off, studying, training courses and the like, my mental map has become very disturbed.
We discovered today that we had forgotten about a whole load of things-to-do from last month: the professional equivalent of finding green stuff in coffee mugs which had been put away in the cupboard and left for four weeks.
Through an accident of scheduling I have two completely clear days tomorrow and Thursday and so I have all the time and mental space I need to rebuild my map. Woo Hoo!
However, when I told my boss about this he looked concerned and issued a warning: “don’t forget that things can change”. He’s normally very trusting but he’s resisted my attempts to introduce mental order before. He seems afraid that structure will introduce inflexibility. I find this really interesting, because it is so different from how I think.
I’m going to put a pin in my map tomorrow to remind me to ask him how he keeps track of what he has to do.