I have a lot of things on the go at all times and, naturally, I attempt to keep all those things organized in my mind. Goals, responsibilities, important dates…they are all organized into the chaos that is my head. It can be very stressful organizing all that information especially if something particularly difficult to deal with pops up in front of me. In fact, it seems at times that I couldn’t possibly cram more information in there without losing some other important piece of information. All that information starts to get washed out by other information I am cramming in there and, eventually, it turns from a black and white to-do list into a fuzzy list resembling static on a television.
It’s important to live in the moment, seeking peace of mind and not dwelling on past failures or worrying about future achievements. It’s important to maintain a positive attitude and look to the bright side of everything that happens. And it’s important to use organization and time management skills… But, there’s one simple tool, or exercise, that is responsible for really reducing my stress levels. And it will work for you too…
Write Things Down
Write down (or type out) the things you are responsible for taking care of. Grab a piece of paper or haul out the trusty blackberry and create your list… type out all those things you are responsible for taking care of. Put important dates in your calendar and document important tasks and action items in your task list.
Once you have created a list go back to the top and prioritize it… put a due date beside anything that requires it or break important tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. It is so much easier to understand and take action on the ‘next steps’ for items on your list if it’s there, in black and white, right in front of you.
As you write that information down you immediately clear your mind for dealing with what’s important… instead of focusing on organizing a to-do list and an endless number of tasks and responsibilities in your head, you can now focus on the action items, those small steps required to make progress towards completing each task or accomplishing each goal. You will become more productive and, as you strike off each item on your list, more motivated to move on to the next one. Additionally, it’s easier to identify the ‘mind clutter’ from those tasks that were simply not that important if you can visually prioritize everything in front of you.
You will find, as you turn this exercise into a routine, that you are better able to achieve and maintain peace of mind and, furthermore, you will be better prepared to cope with those unexpected life occurrences that are bound to try to interrupt or derail our efforts.