Have you ever felt just totally overwhelmed with…well…everything? When I come to the point where all my work and personal “stuff” is all swimming in my head like a giant goulash, I know it’s time to do an “up and out.”
Much like the phrase, “a place for everything and everything in its place,” we all need a way to organize our “mental office.” Instead of carting around a giant miscellaneous basket of thoughts all day, get them up and out!
I use a notebook for this drill but you can use several pieces of paper as well. Find a quiet spot.
Sometimes I sit at the kitchen counter and layout several sheets of paper that I can see all at one time. If you use this method, place a label at the top of each sheet – you can choose your own labels but here are a few to get started:
To Do – Work
To Do – Personal
The next step should take between ten and thirty minutes. I like to start with a warm mug of coffee and complete silence. You’ll only have to wait a minute or less and the thoughts will start swamping you.
As they come up, place them on the appropriate list – don’t worry about the order or the importance of each. Place every single “I need to…” on a list, no matter how trivial. Just get it all “up and out.”
Now take a quick break – walk around the block, refill your mug, or fold a load of laundry.
Come back to the list and read over it. You may have a few more things to add to it. Now pick out the top 5 most critical items and place numbers 1 thru 5 next to those items. If you wrote out multiple lists, place the top 5 in order on each list.
Those are the items you must do next, before any others. Come back to this list over the next few days and continue to cross things out and reorder the list until it’s a big mess. Some items will never get done (so how “important” are they?!?) and some will disappear off your list pretty quickly. In about a week, do another “up and out.”
If you make a habit of this practice – doing it at least once every two weeks – you’ll find your mind can “rest” because you’ve created a place to “put” all those thoughts so they don’t clog up your creative thinking.