I’ve been back from Vancouver for a little over 48 hours. Since then I’ve been working diligently to clear out my inboxes, unpack, get back on top of everything and ensure that my time off between school and work can be used as effectively as possible.
This is usually the point for me where I feel at my busiest and can be most easily overwhelmed, and I think a lot of us feel this way.
Braindumps are one of the things that I like to do to centre myself and find focus. To keep things interesting, we’ll start today off with my own example. The speed with which my days are flashing by is incredible, and I felt like I needed some solitude.
- App Development
- Project Management
- The Climb
- Vancouver Retrospective
- New blog
Five minutes. Your thoughts. Captured on paper.
The rules are simple:
- Devote no more and no less than five minutes to the process
- Don’t judge the thoughts
The application of the rules is the challenging part. Many people either forget about the time limit or give up too soon. By setting a time limit of five minutes, you will ensure that you don’t get hung up on any one idea, nor give up too quickly.
Don’t judge what comes up. Just write it down as quickly as you can. The sooner you can write it down, the sooner your mind will be freed to skip to the next idea. I promise you that things will bubble up that surprise you.
See how I have redundant items up there (Clean, Chores; Cook, Dinner)? That’s an artefact of the fact that I did not stop to judge the word as it bubbled up. It doesn’t matter if it’s redundant. In fact, capturing that thought actually added value for me: it indicated that those particular items were at the front of my mind.
A clean mind is an effective mind.
You may often find that a lot of minutia pops up while conducting a braindump. Minutia it may be, but it’s occupying some part of your mind’s available energy. Write it down, let your mind move past it.
Conducting a braindump is a great tool to apply when you’re feeling overwhelmed. The simple act of writing your thoughts down is an act of control and will help calm you and let you feel like you’re making some progress (because you are). Asserting control over your thoughts will help ensure that you are in control of them and not the other way around.
Lastly, seeing everything currently overwhelming you, written down and contained on a single piece of paper, will have a powerful psychological effect.
So now you’ve got another tool in your problem solving toolbox. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you can’t figure out how to move forward, set aside five minutes and splurge your brain.