We all get stressed out from time to time. Work, Family, Friends, Pandemic. I’m no different than you. Even living my #AustinLife doesn’t happen without some stress. Most of that is self-induced. One of the things that is a contributor to stress in my life is clutter. I’m not talking about physical clutter (although that can also cause stress), I’m talking about mental clutter.
Your brain is an amazing organ, but all too often we don’t use it correctly. Your brain is a horrible task manager. Today you’ll give your poor brain a rest and immediately be less stressed.
Do this and be Less Stressed
In his seminal book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen lays out an amazing system for organization. There is a high likelihood that you or someone you know has read that book and has put his teachings into practice. But in that book is one exercise that has served me well since I first read it way back in 2009.
David calls it “The Mind-Sweep” exercise. The exercise is really simple and based on my own usage I have modified it slightly.
- Get a stack of plain paper. (The paper can be any size. Don’t use Post-It notes, a computer, or a spiral notebook. These need to be individual pieces of paper.)
- Write a different task, chore, reminder, thought, idea on an individual piece of paper. (Don’t evaluate them yet, just write them. This can be anything from “Hire a House Keeper” to “Book a hotel for my business trip” to “Sell the couch on Facebook Marketplace”)
- Take those individual pieces of paper and determine what the very next thing you need to do to move each of those ideas forward to the next step.
- Get out whatever you use to manage your tasks and enter those next actions into the planner or schedule it on the calendar.
Every time I have EVER done this exercise I have felt more in control of my life, my stress level has come down considerably, and I am better able to focus on the important things in my life.
It has become such an important part of my productivity that I do it every single Friday afternoon before I stop working for the weekend. It gives me the clarity I need to really enjoy the time I spend with Courtney on Saturday and Sunday. No more wondering if I forgot something or constantly trying to make sure I don’t forget to do something on Monday.
Try it right now. Take 2 minutes. No need to do the whole thing, even just a few lines on a single piece of paper will do as a test run. I bet you’ll feel less stressed.