You start each day with intention. You have a strict list of what you are going to achieve and you’re ready. Your office is prepared, you’ve had a coffee and a stretch, perhaps a walk of the dog.
You should be productivity personified.
Then, you are suddenly, time-warping, unexpectedly at the close of the day.
And, horrors, your list remains the same.
There’s no great big ticks where you’ve checked off your completed tasks. There’s no satisfaction of a job well done. There’s simply more work to do tomorrow.
And guess what else? You’ve stopped moving. You’ve lost momentum.
Why does this happen?
Because when you are overwhelmed, you basically cannot complete create the mind space to get the momentum to complete a job.
So, how do you change it?
A brain dump is basically an uber list of everything that’s keeping your mind too busy to focus.
Step 1. List it out.
Get a piece of paper and set a timer for 30 minutes.
Literally write down EVERYTHING – from buying cat food, to writing the backlog of blogs you need, to the bigger picture stuff – finishing your eBook, looking at the rental for your new office space.
Don’t forget to include the outcomes you’d like to see from the tasks, this keeps you focused on the end goal, rather than just the hard yards to get through the list.
Don’t worry if there’s completely random stuff in your initial list that you think is too trivial to add. It’s not, because if it’s coming up in your brain dump, then it’s also coming up in your thought process before bed, at 3am, and, most importantly, when you sit down to actually get the work done.
Step 2. Clean it up.
Now it’s time to deal with the fluff.
Cross off everything in your list that you can move across to an incidentals list (this includes the cat food, but please don’t forget to actually feed the cat!) You can use the crossed off tasks to move to a secondary list later, including all the miscellaneous stuff that’s unrelated to your business but that has to get done.
Now cross off all the things you know you won’t get to. Really look at these. Are you absolutely going to do your taxes this week? Would it be better to get in touch with a bookkeeper instead and outsource? How can you make some of these time consuming, work vacuum items go into someone else’s list?
What you’re admitting here is a. this isn’t a current “need” and b. I don’t actually want to do this.
That’s OK! You’re on the right track. There are people who are qualified to handle the things you don’t want to. Find them. (Put that on your list!)
Step 3. Prioritise.
Look at you pared back list. Isn’t it nice to have all the junk removed (but still written down so you can look at it later) and be able to see what you actually want and need to do? There are less than you thought there would be, right?
Now, put them in a priority list.
Then, allocate time against each task.
From a mindset point of view, without having a deadline you most likely won’t achieve your end goal.
If you have items to do that are more than three months in advance, I suggest you add them to a future goals list and review them monthly. When you plan too far into the future, these tasks feel less urgent and the urgency is often what makes us get the job done.
Step 4. We have the technology!
So use it!
Get this simplified list into your calendar ASAP.
Create appointments and schedule when these will get done. Be reasonable with your time, block out a full three hours for research, if that’s what you know you’ll need. Don’t set up half hour scheduling and then still be running behind yourself all the time. Be realistic.
Technology as simple to use as Google Calendar will set you up. Plus, it will “DING” you when it’s time to get cracking. Set up reminders with 1 day, 1 hour or 15 minute warnings (or all three) so that you’re prepared to get cracking.
Step 5. Get help.
If you’ve completed this process and you still feel like you’re going in circles, it’s time to get some clear strategies happening.
With a clear and concise strategy you will find yourself on target and less likely to be distracted by what’s happening in the background, a complex and viral phenomenon I like to call “Shiny Object Syndrome”.