You may think lists are only for nerds, and maybe they are, but if you want a happier life, please do just this one thing: keep some recording device (paper and pen, flip chart, whiteboard, voice recorder, PDA, computer) with you at all times. When you have an idea or remember something you have to do, record it. Then relax and move on.
This is why I carry my Treo with me at all times, and why the iPhone still is not ready for primetime (though I expect it to change soon; the OS is ready, it just needs the firmware upgraded with the right capability). I used to carry the little black book that my uni gave me as a yearly calendar. However, I didn’t remember to check it. When I finally got a Palm Pilot, it changed my life, because it was there in my face, reminding me. I could set calendar events, but more importantly I could take and refer to notes, and I could set myself ToDos. These are keys to my productivity.
I have a saying that if I promise to do something, and it doesn’t get into my device, we never had the conversation. But when I do put it in there, it will happen. I’m much more effective with what I call my ‘external memory‘, leaving the device to remember arbitrary details and saving my brain for useful pattern matching, which is the right balance of tasks given the architecture of our brains and the capabilities of these devices.
This is the big argument, to me, for the benefits of mobile performance (including learning, but more focused on performance support and communication), a useful adjunct to our capabilities. As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s not about learning, it’s about doing, and from the problem’s point of view, the solver is more capable if it’s an augmented person, whether by technology or collaborator(s).
So, any device not only has to have the four elements Jeff Hawkins first identified: memos/notes, todos/tasks, contacts/address book, and calendar, but it has to sync it with my computer. Then it needs to have other things: phone, camera, email, web-browser. It makes me more effective, essentially smarter. Heck, sometimes it even makes me wiser! Are you using your devices optimally? Personally and professionally? Is your organization?