This is a simple execise I’ve learned a few year ago from one of my coaches. Its beauty is in its simplicity but don’t be fooled, this is a very powerful exercise, especially if you have never done it before. We, as a human beings, in this information age tend to have shorter and shorter attention span and, at the same time, try to keep everything inside our mind. Here lies the problem. Any unfinished business, todo item, project started but not completed, errands and alike create an open loop inside your mind. The more open loop you have, the less focused you are. Eventually you might end up perpetually overwhelmed with a feeling that you have so much stuff to handle so you can’t take it anymore. This exercise will help you to clear your mental desk and get rid of overwhelm in fifteen to thirty minutes.
1. Pick up a few sheets of paper and a pen
This is self explanatory. I just want to mentioned that I’d like to keep my records in a single notepad. You might want to keep the notes, so consider getting a good letter sized notepad.
2. Write down everything that’s on you mind
Yes, that’s right. Everything that’s on your mind. Do not stop writing until you empty you mind completely and put everything on paper. Take as much time as you need. If you’ve never done this exercise before you might write for thirty minutes or more and fill in several sheets of paper.
3. Select top 5 tasks and prioritize them
When you finish writing, look at the paper. That’s a lot of stuff, isn’t it? And you’ve kept it in your head. Now, your task is put a star near the most important tasks and projects. Pick no more than five. To maintain clear focus you only want to concentrate on a few projects until they finished.
4. Do the tasks until finished and let go of the rest
Now, go and complete these five tasks and consciously let go of the rest. You can afford it now when you don’t have to keep it all in your mind anymore. When you’re finished, repeat the exercise again.
5. Repeat the exercise as often as you feel comfortable
Do this exercise as much as you feel comfortable with. The more often you do it, the less stuff accumulates in your mind, the easier is to stay focused.
Here you have it. A simple as this exercise is, it is very powerful. When you get stuff off you mind and to the paper, you free you brain cells to work on a task at hand, the really important one. So, do this exercise today and let me know what your result are.