There is one step to making it through all the clutter swirling in my brain that is both incredibly challenging and counter-intuitive.
What is it? Taking a break!
After writing my imperfect list for either a set time or length of list, I set it aside completely and go off and do something very different.
Why a break?
I understand. You feel overwhelmed and behind and feel the need to get working on all that stuff. Taking time from the doing to write out your list is causing some additional stress. However, breaks work. I wrote about some of the benefits before I started this pen at work project in my post Coffee Breaks Chaos.
How to take a break
You aren’t going on a multi-day vacation! I believe it it’s possible for most everyone to set aside an hour to do something different. As a worst case, time the break from your list so you can go to lunch, and yes go! Do not eat at your desk!
Here are a few ideas:
- take a nap
- walk (or run) on a route you don’t normally take
- read a chapter of a favourite book
- knit on a project you enjoy
- meet a friend for tea
- clean the bathroom or the stove (ok, this likely is on your list but there’s something about scrubbing and I otherwise avoid it)
- visit a museum
- enjoy a bubble bath
- watch a tv episode
- snuggle with your cat(s) or play with the dog.
What not to do
Try to stay away from email and social media. Also resist the urge to bring your entire list with you. This isn’t the time to start processing and prioritizing it and it’ll be tempting if you have it near at hand. However, I have found it helpful to have a small notebook available to capture those items that bubbled to the surface of my brain while I was doing something else.
After my break I often simply return to my regularly scheduled day after capturing those thoughts that found their way out. I then schedule time for the next step, taming the chaos.