There shouldn’t be lots of stuff on your mind. Having lots of stuff on your mind is like having someone tug your sleeve every 3 minutes.
The only thing that should be on your mind is the stuff you’re doing right now – the stuff that’s right in front of you. You should be “present”, in the moment, focused on what you’re doing. No sleeves being tugged.
The other stuff on your mind is stealing precious memory (think RAM) and is caused, I am afraid, by operator error. But as we’ve discussed before, the brain, although amazing, is tricky to use and there’s no manual.
The operator error is one of poor housekeeping. The operator has failed to do the hoovering and the tidying up.
The reason stuff is on your mind is because you have not managed it, faced up to it, dealt with it, scheduled it. Whatever you should have done you haven’t done it. The stuff on your mind is feeling neglected and is tugging your sleeve. Every three minutes. And you cannot hit it.
When your mind is like this there is a tendency to do what screams the loudest or is the easiest. That might be the right thing to do next, but probably isn’t.
So you get a double hit – the sleeve tugging makes it impossible to do your best on whatever it is you’re working on and whatever it is you’re working on is probably not the right thing anyway because you only chose it because it was screaming or because it appeared easy. Oh dear.
Our mind should be left alone to focus on the current, present task without any RAM being consumed by the sleeve tuggers.
So, what to do?
Take all of the stuff that’s on your mind and write it down on a piece of paper. For all the small stuff, diary an hour and just do it. Yes, I did just use diary as a verb. For the big stuff, decide if there’s anything you want to and can do about it. If there isn’t, just let it go. Kiss it goodbye, say sorry, accept it as part of the messiness of life – whatever you have to do to let it escape. And don’t chase after it.
If there is something you want to and can do about it, turn the issue into a goal. A SMART goal. Decide if you have the time to make this goal one of your current goals. If not, put it on a list of stuff to come back to later and make sure you do come back later.
If you do wish to adopt it as a current goal, decide on the next thing to do and put that activity in your diary. When the appointed time comes, do the thing, decide what the next thing is and put that in your diary. Repeat to fade.
You will have to do this housekeeping exercise regularly, maybe once a week.
You will be amazed at how this frees up your mind, your RAM. You have made an intelligent decision about what to do and it is in process – the next step is in the diary. There is no more you can do. You are in control. You have self-managed. And you have freed up the greatest thing ever seen in the universe – your mind – to actually focus on the things you have decided merit focus. A great resource used wisely by a skilled operator. It’s not a guarantee of success, but it’s pretty close.
What would you like to stop thinking about today?