5/4/2010: To-Do List
When I came back from The Hive conference last week, my mind was buzzing (pun intended). While I generally like this feeling, it can quickly slide into overwhelm.

I think of all the people I’d like to follow up with. I feel the need to get started on all the great new ideas I got. I remember that dentist appointment I’ve been putting off for months.

At this point I start to feel paralyzed; there’s just too much to do! Where to start?

The thing to do at this point is an exercise called ‘Clearing The Mind’ I learned this from a book called Take Back Your Life! by Sally McGhee.

The idea is simple: every idea; to-do item or task that is floating around in your mind is mental clutter taking up space in your unconscious mind. This clutter has weight and drags down your conscious mind. It keeps you from being present and, worse, puts you in a kind of stasis where you’re too overwhelmed by the amorphous mass of stuff in your mind to take the next step.

To ‘clear your mind’ is simple,basically it’s  a cross between a brainstorming session and writing a to-do list.

Ms. McGhee’s system is based on Microsoft Outlook and she recommends putting everything in your task list. This can be helpful; especially if it’s synched to your iphone; but it’s not necessary, a plain old sheet of paper will work. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Sit in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted
  2. Start jotting down all of the things you have to do. Don’t sensor yourself or try to categorize items, just get them out
  3. Once you’ve got a draft list go back over different areas of your life; home, family, work, health, friends, etc.
  4. Add anything to the list that you missed

Your done! For now you don’t need to think of timelines, or due dates. Just keep the list somewhere where you’ll see it. You can organize it later. The main point of the exercise is to free your mind so you can move forward again.

Do you already do something list or have a trick to help you get through feeling overwhelmed? Share your tips in the comments.

Photo by john.schultz