Tidy up ... your thinking
In December and January, The Simple Dollar is posting a daily series focusing on specific activities you can do right now to set the stage for a great 2011. Out with the old, in with the new.
10. Do a mind sweep.Skip to next paragraph
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Hot on the heels of the ongoing discussion of Making It All Work, I’m going to suggest a good old fashioned “mind sweep” as a brilliant way to get your financial and personal house in order to finish out the year.
What’s a “Mind Sweep”?
Simply put, a “mind sweep” is a collection in one external place of all of the ongoing concerns in your life. All of the things you’re thinking about, trying to remember, or need to do that are cluttering up your mind are a bigger distraction than you think, and simply getting them out of your head can make a big difference.
Why is it such a big distraction?
For starters, think about how your mind works when you’re focused on a task. How often does a stray thought pop into your head? Something you need to do. An appointment you need to remember. Some fact that you’ve been thinking about lately. These little thoughts break your concentration, and that causes both the task at hand to take longer and the task at hand to get finished with a little less quality. Has your mind ever wandered to something else and suddenly you’re seeing the task in front of you descending into disaster (dinner, for instance)?
More importantly, doing this makes you into a more reliable person. You’re able to deal with the many personal and professional things people expect from you and you live up to that standard – and beyond. You produce quality work and don’t let people down.
One of my own examples of a “forgotten” thing, for example, tends to be bills, mostly because many of them are billed electronically and some of them don’t let me know that they’re due. Thus, it’s up to me to remember them.
Doing a Mind Sweep
So, how do you actually go about this?
I suggest having a good chunk of time set aside before even starting. This is a perfect activity for a winter weekend day where you don’t have much going on.
I would also suggest having some sort of tool upon which you can freely write. This might be a laptop or it might be a pad of paper and a pencil.
The first step is to simply sit down and do a complete brain dump. Just sit there and let your mind wander through everything in your life and write down everything that concerns you, that you’re trying to remember, that you’re working through. All of that stuff that pops up and distracts you needs to go down on paper (or into your text editor). Just keep going with it until you feel like there’s nothing else.
When you’re done with that (it usually takes me about an hour), go through your house and visit each room. See if anything else pops into your head as you look around. Check your email. Think about your job and the stuff you need to get done there. Go through your mail.
Get it all out of your head and onto paper. Don’t worry about order. Don’t worry about filtering anything. Don’t worry about duplicating stuff. Just get it all out.
You’ll find that the list is tremendously long when you’re done. The next step, of course, is to start dealing with all of that stuff.