This week I began to feel the crush of the million items on my mental to do list and knew it was time to pull out a black sharpie and some paper. Before I became paralyzed by the mounting pressure to get it ALL done NOW I quickly undertook an exercise that makes me feel instantly more sane. It’s called a Brain Dump and this is how the magic works:
1. Get it all out.
As quickly as I can I write down everything I can possibly think of that’s been nagging at me. Everything from the crumbs in my silverware drawer (how does that happen?!) to the email from that awesome person that I STILL haven’t responded to.
2. Weed and prioritize.
Once I’ve exhausted my mental list and filled a page (or two…) I scan its contents while asking myself, “Is this something I NEED to do or SHOULD do?” If I answer should I cross the item off. Should indicates that I’m pressuring myself to maintain an unhealthy ideal. After weeding, I take a colored sharpie (usually hot pink) and star the 3 most urgent tasks. All other tasks are categorized by type (business vs personal) and order of importance.
3. It’s a date.
Once I’ve weeded and organized my list I open my calendar and divvy out a task or two for each weekday. Whenever I’m tempted to worry about an uncompleted task I remind myself that its taken care of and will be done on such and such date.
4. Cross that shit off!
To get myself off to an awesome start I choose a quick and easy task (hello, crumbs in silverware drawer) that’s relatively painless whilst still providing the satisfaction of crossing something off the list. I keep the list and sharpie at hand and gleefully watch the paper turn into a bunch of black sharpie lines as I tackle each item.
5. Gold star.
I reward myself with Starbucks or wine when I complete an especially tedious task, or whenever it’s needed ;)
A good ol’ Brain Dump is my go to solution for whenever I start to feel overwhelmed by just about anything and everything. What’s yours?