Tip for Picking up Where You Left Off

by Tim Francis on January 10, 2012

Ever working on a project that requires you to be really, really focused?  Maybe a proposal, presentation, accounting, or some kind of technical coding work or something?

For me it brings to mind a scene from the movie The Social Network where there’s dozens and dozens of kids doing computer programming for the Facebook website.  Their faces are 6 inches from the screen and they’ve got headphones on listening to some kind of trance music…. they are all-consumed by their task, for hours and hours on-end.

(…and they have to be – a simple interruption would cause them to lose their train of thought, which could take 30 minutes or more to regain… not good.)

“Don’t interrupt them – they’re plugged in!!!” exclaims the Mark Zuckerberg character, as played by Jesse Eisenberg.

– – –

While you and I may not be programming a billion-dollar website, we are still faced with tasks on a regular basis that require clear, uninterrupted focus and attention.

When it’s a project or task that spans over a few days, or at least a few separate work sessions, it can be really nerve-wracking… worrying that you won’t be able to remember where you left off.

And even if you feel reasonably confident that you’ll know where to start work again, maybe it takes awhile – sometimes over 10 minutes – to get re-oriented when you pick up the task again.

Here’s a helpful tip that I discovered….

Recently I’ve been doing some pretty intense, focused work on some pretty nit-picky stuff, like reviewing and programming Infusionsoft sequences.  And because it was for a client, I was forced to stop work at several key decision points to consult with them.

This also meant I was forced to stop and figure out how to pick things up again – accurately and efficiently – once I got clarification from the client.

The solution I discovered was actually by using a simple program called Evernote, which can be downloaded for free at http://www.Evernote.com.  Works on both Mac and PC, as well as iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry.  It allows you to aggregate all forms of notes – typed, spoken, even pictures (yes pictures!) – into one place.  When you need to re-call something, you simply search using Evernote’s search bar to find what you’re looking for.  I have described much more about Evernote in this review of Evernote.

And I started doing it for work on my own projects too, including Make Marketing Videos – the course that teaches you the fastest way to make your own pro marketing videos with less than $500 of equipment.  In developing the MakeMarketingVideos.com course I’ve been juggling everything from HTML coding of the website, Infusionsoft sequences, integration to create the membership site, the Google Adwords account and ideas, different contractors that are doing work for me, graphic design ideas, etc., etc., etc…… in sort, no small undertaking.

TONS of details to keep track of, many different parts of the project moving forward at the same time… I’m sure you can identify what that feeling!

To deal with it all, I simply created  a new note in Evernote for each new idea or project (do whatever suits you best), put the project name in the subject line, and whenever I needed to stop working (on my own projects or clients’) I would simply make a note of:

  • where I stopped
  • what I was doing
  • what windows were open
  • and (this is a nifty trick) the next 2-3 steps I would need to take

This last step – noting the upcoming 2-3 steps – helped me to regain not just the spot I was working on, but also the train of thought I was on when I did stop.  And by keeping a running list of things as I completed them, I can also refer backwards to see what I was working on previously – also handy for me to regain my overall train of thought.

And as long as I took good notes – or at least mediocre notes and made sure I was coming back to that project within a few weeks – things have been exponentially easier.

Doing this has allowed me to pick up where I’ve left off far more quickly, with far less frustration…. which has been great!

Hope that helps,

Tim :)

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