The other day, I woke up at 5:23 am. I was exhausted. It was clear that my brain hadn't slept much, and it had been awake for some time. Before I'd even opened my eyes, my mind was having a conversation with itself that went something like:
Hell, I forgot to send that email off to Julie yesterday. She's three hours ahead, so if I get up now, she'll still have it before she gets into her office. Need to add a new blog post. I wish I hadn't committed to dog training today. How am I going to get everything in. Maybe Sarah won't send me her project for editing today. She's often late. I won't send her a reminder. While I'm lying here, I could do my stretching and get that off my list. Got to practice my speech for tomorrow. Is it my turn to cook dinner tonight? Meditating this morning isn't going to happen. I've got to book my plane reservations or that trip's going to cost a fortune. Must arrange for that dog sitter, too. Coffee!! ...
That was all in a span of about 45 seconds.
I did get up and (ever grateful for my early-morning husband) poured myself a cup of coffee. I sat at my desk and brain-vomited words onto a sheet of paper (much like what you see above). And, I breathed a sigh of relief. The mere act alone of writing something down began my path toward focus.
The next two steps looked like this:
I took all my thoughts and put them into one or two words on one page, so I could see them all. (yes, I know, it looks ugly)
Then, I created a mind map and put them all into "logical" (for me) categories and sub-categories.
My final result looked like this:
This may still look like chaos to you, but it created focus and clarity for me. Instead of my brain being like a pinball machine of random, individual thoughts, I could see some structure and make sense of what I needed to do. All of it listed on a pretty pink, 3x5 card, didn't hurt, either. It wasn't quite so overwhelming.
Employing a combination of journaling at the beginning, mind-mapping in the middle, and a sort of to-do list in the end freed my brain and made for a really productive day -- that included even an afternoon nap!
The mere act alone of writing something down (preferably in long-hand) began my path toward focus.