Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When There's Too Much on Your Mind

It's midnight and you are ready to sleep. You turn off the light. Suddenly you remember that you were supposed to call the doctor's office to make an appointment. What do you do? Do you get up, or do you go back to sleep. You decide to go back to sleep when you remember that your cousin has a birthday next week and you need to send a card. This goes on for the next 10-minutes, when you finally drift off to sleep. When you awake in the morning you feel exhausted and mentally drained. What happened?

You were not able to turn off the subconscious "pop-up windows" in your mind. Many people have multiple conflicting thoughts, ideas, tasks, worries, concerns, obligations on their mind. They are unable to concentrate or be productive because once they figure out one idea to focus on, here comes that thought about the ice cream you think you left on the counter. What can you do?

Once a week or more often if needed, I suggest you have a Brain Dump. A Brain Dump is an opportunity for you to get rid of all those nagging pop-ups in you mind. No matter how big or how small. Whether it is your responsibility or someone else's. Here's what you can do:

  • Set aside a block of uninterrupted time (30 minutes - 1 hour).
  • Take out several pieces of paper to work with.
  • Write down everything that is on your mind.
  • Take a break for a few minutes.
  • Continue the process. There are sure to be other ideas that pop-up.
  • Categorize your thoughts into different sections.
  • Assign priority to tasks that are your responsibility.
  • Delegate tasks that are the responsibility of others.
  • Begin to tackle your list. (If it's too much, see my blog about 15-minutes at a time)
  • Repeat the process next week.

This should help you think a lot clearer and get a good night's sleep as well. Tell me how it goes!

Also, I recommend you take a look at David Allen's
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

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