Closed September 2017

Ease Your Mind Using “The Bookmark Principle”

Bookmark2 Last week I wrote about "The Poisonous Mental Clutter of Worry," and I wanted to write about another kind of mental clutter I see many people suffering from– the bad habit of keeping too many things in your head and not writing them down.

Have you ever seen those circus performers who do plate spinning? They have multiple plates spinning and balanced on sticks and they have to keep circulating back to each plate and giving it additional spins to keep the whole thing going. This is how many people manage their time and appointments in their heads! They are keeping lots of information in their short-term memory and hope that they remember it at the right time. They keep repeating things to themselves (maybe even out loud) like, "Oh, yeah, I've gotta remember to call Susie," and "Don't forget to leave that check for the babysitter."

Does this sound familiar? Here is the cure for this problem: I call it The Bookmark Principle.

How many of you, when reading a good book, put the book down and run around the rest of the day saying to yourself, "I'm on page 52, I'm on page 52, I'm on page 52…"? You don't, do you? You use something to help you remember that– it's called a BOOKMARK. A bookmark holds your place so you don't have to remember. It's a system that you trust enough to allow the information to never even register in your mind. You just let it go and know the bookmark will be there. You don't spin that plate.

The Bookmark Principle: Your time management system should be as trusted as a bookmark. David Allen talks about having "trusted systems…" I love that phrase. If you don't trust your calendar, task list, and other capturing tools as much as you would trust a bookmark, you need to spend some time considering how to improve them.

I recently wrote a series on the Five "C's" of Time Management, the first one being "Capture." You need to have some trusted capturing tools to grab those thoughts and tasks before they become more spinning plates in your head. Some of my favorite capturing tools are Jott, Evernote, and notebooks. Read my post on Capturing for more good capturing tools. 

Last night our paid members participated in a live monthly Q&A webinar session with me, and these kinds of time management issues come up time after time with people. What are your trusted systems? Share in the comments!

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Fran Wheeler

I am a list writer. Once it’s on my list, I don’t have to worry about it or worry about remembering it. It really clears the mind of one kind of stress. I use paper—my husband and I call it graphite memory. Others might use electronic devices.
It is really helpful.

Monica Ricci

Lorie, I’ve been using the plate spinning analogy for years and it really resonates with people, doesn’t it?? I also love your bookmark idea. That’s so true… we don’t walk around trying to remember what page we stopped on in a book, but YES so many people think they can just magically remember all these little pieces of minutiae without writing them down. It’s sheer silliness I tellya! :o)


I am a list writer too. A simple notebook, next to my computer. Nothing else has preformed better for me. I tried to uber organized my daily tasks and it was a mess. I cannot plan my day by the minute, but I can focus it by the line.


I use to keep my lists. Then it’s always handy, whether I’m at work, at home, or running errands (via my smart phone). The interface is simple & straightforward, much like a pencil & paper. But, it offers the advantage of categories (“projects), similar to a notebook.
I love my digital lists! Now I only need to spin a plate long enough to add it to Todoist.


I love the post, but my problem is that I use a calendar (hubby knows, if it’s not on there, it doesn’t happen) and for specific periods of time (ie a productive weekend) I write To Do lists… but reading my book is on my list as I always lose my bookmark (or these days, with children, it gets stolen!) I’ve always been poor with bookmarks and refuse to fold the top of the page (dog ear). Funny how we are all different!


I’m a list writer too. It’s been said that a handwritten list is the most effective, and I sure find that to be true for me.
I used to be better at remembering things…


I’ve discovered a great application for my Palm Pre. It’s called Note to Self. I’m not sure if it’s available for the iPhone, but I’m sure if it isn’t there is another similar application.
It allows me to send an email note to myself, so when I am running around I can type in something I need to remember and send it off for me to read later in my email.
It really helps clear some of my mental clutter

Margarete Loghry

I either email or voice mail myself a reminder, this typically works out quite well!!

Rita Schweim

I leave myself a voice mail on my work phone if I remember something and I’m at home…
a former co-worker got a kick out of this but hey it works for me!


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