Scattered Snippets: Make a List

Happy Monday everyone!  How are you all?  Things here were rather quiet this weekend.  I took a much needed break away from the computer, and focused on stuff around the house.  It’s nice to walk away from the electronics for a bit, and it was great to be able to tackle some of the items on my ever growing to do list, without the distraction of my computer.  And that little break inspired my tip today!

A series of small posts about organizing, cleaning, declutter and home mangement posts. |

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the thoughts in my head and taking a break from one area usually allows me to focus a little more clearly on another area.  Sometimes…. not always.  When that not always part kicks in, I have a little trick that I use to help take the clutter out of my head.

It sounds so simple doesn’t it?  That’s because it is.  When our heads get full of all the things we need to do we can find ourselves stalling or procrastinating on the things we need to do most.  Even those of us who schedule our time, and our family’s activities with care to not to be too busy can find our minds turning into a to-do vortex when life starts to happen.  Because life ALWAYS happens.  Making a list can be a great way to empty your mind.

Here’s what you need:

  • paper
  • pens or pencils
  • highlighters
  • time
  • cup/glass of something
  • quiet

The first step is to grab your paper and a pen and start writing.  Write down anything that pops into your head. It could be something you need to do, somewhere you want to go, the key to this is to write down EVERY thought.  Somewhere on my list is an item that says “oh, what a pretty bird.  I haven’t seen one like that around here.”  simply because that thought popped in my head as I looked out the window.  Don’t think about it too much, just let the stuff come out.

Once you reach the point where you can’t think of anything else that need to be jotted down.  Grab your highlighters (you could also use colored pens if you want too) and assign a color to an area of your life.  As you can see below, I only assigned three categories to my.  Housework, Blog and Business.  If an item didn’t fit one of those categories, I left it blank.

Now, you can just leave it at that if you want too.  I opted to take it one step further for three reasons.

  1. I filled three pages front and back.  That was a pretty long list and even with the color coding, it still felt really overwhelming.
  2. I was focused on getting the thoughts out of my head as quickly as I could.  My handwriting was almost too messy for even me to read, so I wanted to take the time to make the list more legible.
  3. This way I could keep running to-do lists for different areas of my life and get an idea of what items I worry about most.

The next step is to grab a fresh sheet of paper, or turn to a fresh page in your notebook.  At the top of the page write your category, and then using your master list you just color coded, jot down all the items that fall into that category.  Use a new page for each category.

Using category lists helps me get more done.  They allow me to see all the things I need to do in different areas, and help me when it comes to scheduling the time to do them.  I keep these lists in a notebook, and I cross items off as they are completed.  The next time I feel the need to unclutter my brain, I make another master list, or brain dump, and repeat the process.  If I notice something comes up in that brain dump that is already on one of my cateogry lists, I place a star by it.  This way, when it comes time to do up my schedule for the week I can make sure to schedule in some starred items.  After all, if they keep coming up in my brain dump they are obviously something that I either really want to do, or something I will worry over until it is complete.

I started this at the beginning of the year, and so far it seems to be about once a month that I need to empty my head and make up a master list/brain dump.  I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I don’t think I’ve spent longer than 45 minutes on it.  Once you start and find your groove, it gets quicker and quicker.  I cannot express how the simple ‘make a list’ process has helped me.  As somehow who lives with ADD, I’m used to my head being a cluttered space with thoughts and ideas and worries skittering around all over the place.  Even just the first step of writing down all those thoughts helps to calm my mind.  I’m usually left feeling rather peaceful, and my mind is quieter for a while, which is oh so nice sometimes.

So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by your thoughts, try making a list.  You never know, it might help you as much as it helps me.

Are you a list maker?  Do you do a brain dump every so often?  How do you cope with clutter of the mind?

Happy List Making!

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