Having a hyper active mind is a great asset when it comes to generating ideas and solutions to problems. However, with it comes a sense of overwhelm and confusion leading to procrastination and potential paralysis. With so many options, ideas and concepts, our basic programming cannot cope and we become ineffective.
There are many methods available to help to overcome this. One of the most effective is meditation – or using a modern word – mindfulness. By gently focusing and defocusing on different things, mindfulness allows us to let go of noise that is not useful, and bring together thoughts that could lead to something.
Another technique that could work is brain dumping. This method is particularly useful for the visual and kin-aesthetic types. Let me explain how it can work.
Firstly, you will need some props. You will need a big pack of sticky notes (I refrain from using the trademark as cheaper alternatives are plenty available in low cost shops). You will also need a good pen. In choosing your pen, think about how you enjoy using this pen to capture your best work. For the third phase, you perhaps should think about a system of capturing actions that works for you. Some prefer pen and paper for this, although I prefer to use an electronic solution such as Asana, or Outlooks own tasks.
The process is simple to follow and could form part of a daily routine.
1. With your pen in hand, and your pile of sticky notes in front of you, start thinking about the stuff that is going through your head. On each sticky note write a brief heading of what this is about and move on. Resist the temptation to develop a solution for what you are writing and resist trying to write too detailed a description. Move on to the next sticky label, and the next, and the next. Keep going until you run dry (The first time I did this, this first phase took in excess of 45 minutes).
2. Phase 2 is now the organising part. As you have what was going through your head (with no limitations), you can now start re-arranging the pile of sticky labels into categories and sub categories. I found that I came up with a list of blog titles, so I put these together in a pile. Go by gut instinct – put sticky labels together based on what feels right.
3. Phase 3 is now about capturing your thoughts. As you work through your category piles, start capturing the detail in a central task list (remember, this is a system that works for you). If a deadline feels appropriate, it probably is important for you to complete soon. Perhaps you will end up with a pile of ideas that do not fit with where you are at the moment. This is fine but as opposed to discarding them, place these in a separate place to review later.
For me, the benefits of completing this quick and easy exercise was inspiring. I completed this exercise over a period of a week. The structure of the exercise introduced structure to my thoughts and allowed me to prioritise in a way that I felt was correct. The important aspects were scheduled into my diary and prioritised, whilst the non important were noted for a future day. It is now not a 45 minute per day exercise but perhaps a 10 minute one that helps manage time appropriately for the rest of the day.
Enjoy playing with this and please let us know how it works for you!