Tidy the Pantry of Your Mind

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night thinking of an idea, email, phone call or important task, that you knew you had to deal with the next day or at some stage in the future? I know I have and rather than having a system to deal with the thought, I would go back to sleep (sometimes not) and then wake up in the morning more worried and stressed, as I could not remember what I had been worrying about during the night.

Instead of staying in this place of constant worry I went in search for a solution.

The realisation that getting it out of your head, off the floor and out of your inboxes, so that your mind can relax, to do its proper job, which is as a creativity tool and a goal seeking weapon. Your mind carries all this stuff as baggage, causing stress and anxiety that reduces your overall effectiveness.

Time to tidy the pantry of your mind…

Step 1: Visualise yourselves standing in your kitchens at home, opening their pantry door. The challenge is, how long do they think it might take to find the spice or cumin.

Do they have any idea where to look, are they still searching an hour later, or are they able to find it straight away? I then ask them to give a rating between 0 and 10, as to how tidy they think it is. If things are all over the place and in a real mess, not only does it not feel very good but it’s not very efficient either.

Step 2: Then visualise and rate your work environment, including your in-baskets (are they overflowing?) computer desktop, your list of incomplete tasks and the big one…. how many emails do they have that remain either unread or unanswered in their inbox?

It can be a scary exercise for some, I had one attendee at my workshop who had more than 10,000 items in their inbox! All this incomplete or messy stuff plays havoc on our minds, our mental state and our effectiveness.

Step 3: Capture everything in a trusted system. A process that I have found very effective, is that each and every time a thought comes to mind, night or day, capture it in a trusted system.

The CORE steps in this process are:

Capture and Clarify. Everything that grabs your attention, get it out of your head and into a trusted system

Organise: Sort information, based on how and when you need to access it

Review: Review and update regularly

Execute: Make trusted choices about what to do in any given moment

Over many years, I have heard some interesting ideas when it comes to capturing an idea if you wake up in the middle of the night, including:

  • Send an email to yourself.
  • Write it down on a piece of paper beside the bed.
  • Ring and leave a message on your voicemail at work.
  • Send a text to yourself.

Capture it in whatever form you can, don’t leave it sitting there as too often you wake up more worried than ever, because that brilliant idea that you thought of now eludes you and that just increases your feelings of stress and anxiety.

Once you have created strategies to help clear your mind, you will sleep better, be more focused and less overwhelmed. Also, you will have a library of brilliant creative thoughts, readily accessible for you at any time to take you where ever you want to go.

Remember, to GAIN CLARITY, you need to CAPTURE everything that grabs your attention, get it out of your head and into a trusted system.

Next time I will focus on how to STAY ORGANISED, until then, tick tock, tick tock…

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