Scheduling Time to Think

Here are a few things that went through my mind this weekend.

I need to plant some Armenian cucumber seeds. I would like to learn to draw. I have to go through my old clothes and get rid of the things I don’t wear. I have too much stuff. I need to get my old guitar tuned up. I should actually learn to play the guitar. What should I make for my lunches this week? I’d like to learn how to use water colors. Should I get more worms for my compost bin? I really need to work on my upper body and core strength. I should make a list of the podcasts I want to listen to on a regular basis. There are a lot of books I want to read. I wonder if I could raise chickens in our side yard? 1

You get the picture. My brain is like a ticker tape of thoughts and ideas. Some good. Some decent. Some really bad.

The problem is that a lot of those ideas just remain in my head. Bouncing around like the molecules in one of those “states of matter” videos you would have watched in junior high. They obviously become a distraction, create pressure, and cause stress and anxiety.

This is by no means a novel idea, but last week at work I scheduled a one-hour block of time to sit with a blank page in Evernote (you could use anything you want, including paper). I set a timer for one hour and recorded every thought and idea that went through my head. Since I was at work, the majority of the things I typed out were work related, but every once in a while, something else would come to mind, so I wrote it down. I kept going until the timer went off.

I ended up with over three pages of notes, questions, and ideas.

And I felt much better to have them recorded, and out of my head.

Since my one-hour mind sweep, I have been reviewing my notes: taking action on some ideas, tabling some, and dismissing quite a few as things that are not worth my time or energy. This simple process allowed me to begin to separate the “big rocks” (what is most important) in my mind from the gravel and chaff (the minutiae) that serves only as a distraction.

For this first session, I needed an hour to really think and clear my head. I had a lot bouncing around up there. However, moving forward I am going to schedule time to record my thinking on a regular basis — perhaps even daily — for a shorter period of time (maybe ten to fifteen minutes). I also plan on scheduling a review session, at the end of the week, to go through all of my notes and plan, edit and dismiss as needed. I know for me, the key to actually doing this will be blocking out the time on my calendar to think.

I’d love to hear from you. Have you used a similar process? What works for you? Do you have any suggestions? Let me know in the comments.

Have a great week!

1 So, how many chickens do you think I could raise in our side yard?

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