Have you ever felt your mind was clouded and overloaded? Unable to concentrate or focus on anything? Maybe its like that all the time, or perhaps just when you have a lot going on. Either way, there is a key I have found that can help to break open the productive flow in your mind again.
Get everything out of your head. I call it a brain dump. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with so many things pulling us in so many directions. This method is a way to get back to clear thinking again.
It is just as simple as it sounds – get everything out of your head by writing it down. You will quickly see the benefits. You can handwrite it or do it on your computer – whatever sounds best.
Most people capture over 70 items on their first list. It can be things that are unfinished, something from the past, things you need to start, or dreams you don’t want to lose. Whatever it is that is taking up space in your head, write it down.
You can do this simple trick anytime you feel overwhelmed or can’t seem to focus. It is amazing what this can do for helping you to feel relaxed and like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
Why does this work? David Allen, known for his Getting Things Done methodology, says that our minds are for having ideas, not for holding them. When you get it all written down, your head will finally have space to think and be creative again.
Just clearing everything out of your mind will bring relief. The next step is to simply enjoy the feeling of having everything captured on paper (or computer). Even if it is a massive list, everything should feel less overwhelming. While that feeling is great, this practice will also quickly give you clarity on where to focus next.
When we have everything that has been on our mind in front of us, we can better see where we should spend our time and energy. Something will clearly stick out as needing your attention first. You will also see things that will need more planning, and others that can simply wait until later.
You may even see a way to naturally categorize the list. It should be easy to separate out urgent items and important items. You will also see sequential items that need to be done in a specified order. Different timeframes will also become apparent, such as: right now, within the next week, the next month, or longer. Many items will have no timeframe or even no action needed.
This practice of clearing your mind can be helpful in many different circumstances. It is useful when we have a decision to make, when we are not sure what to work on, or when we keep jumping between tasks without finishing anything.
This technique is also one I like to use to give God space to speak to me. It is difficult to hear God speak when we have hundreds of things going around in our minds. I often use the example of a jar with water and sand that keeps getting stirred up. You can’t see through the foggy water, but if you stop stirring it, the sand will settle and the water will be come clear.
This fog is what happens to our minds when they are always racing. When we get everything out, we can finally let our minds settle. This can bring the much needed relief and clarity, so we can see the best path forward.
You must to create space or your mind will remain filled with half-baked thoughts that can exhaust you and keep you from being productive. Take some time to start your list. You can manage it or add to it as needed. Just get it all out and enjoy the relief.