You’re lying in bed and can’t get to sleep for all the to-do’s in your head:
Write it down.
You’re confused about a next move on a project or in your life:
Write it down.
You have something bugging you that you just can’t shake:
Write it down.
It will help. Don’t believe me? Maybe this TED Talk on “The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” by David Allen will convince you.
Don’t have time to watch it? Well, bookmark it for later. Trust me, it will be worth your sleep, sanity, and happiness in the long run.
In the meantime, here are some highlights to ponder:
1. Basically, the more it’s on your mind, the more you need to write it down.
“If you don’t give your attention to what needs attention, it will start to take more attention than it deserves.”
2. If you’re still unsure what to write, jot down anything potentially meaningful. Little, big, doesn’t matter.
“You don’t even have to do anything with it. Just capture what’s pulling on your psyche.”
1. Write it somewhere you can easily access any time, anywhere. If you’re old school, then may be a notebook you carry with you. If you’re more digitally inclined, a free phone/tablet/computer app like Evernote works great.
Have other suggested techniques or apps? Please share!
2. Then write down the steps required to get to the desired outcome.
- What exactly is the work you need to do?
- What outcome do you want?
- What’s the very next action step?
“Most to-do lists are incomplete lists of still unclear things.”
3. Make maps of all the projects and action items to see how they fit together.
“Then you can make good, intuitive decisions about what to do [overall].”
Physically hang your list somewhere you’ll see it at least once a week.
It’s going to feel awkward, unnatural, and unnecessary, but just wait. You’ll see. It will help.
1. You’ll have better perspective and control if you don’t try to keep it all in your head.
2. An increasingly digital and connected world distracts our psyche, creating overwhelm and confusion. Then you get stressed and blame it on lack of time.
“You know what you would do with two more hours? You’d have two more hours of overwhelm.”
3. Chances are you don’t have time and energy to recognize great opportunities happening all around you, let alone take advantage of them.
“You need freedom [of time] to make a creative mess. That is going to be your most productive time. However, if you’re already in a mess, you don’t have room to make one.”
4. You’re not avoiding problems if you’re just letting the baggage accumulate in your head.
What’s the point of that? All that garbage is not going anywhere, and it’s taking up valuable mind space.
And Remember: Flexibility Trumps Perfection
It may feel overwhelming, but it won’t take long to get good at this. Don’t overthink it. Just try it. It’s truly as simple as: WRITE IT DOWN.
Why not add this to your list of New Year’s resolutions for the coming year? You don’t know what could happen until you try…