Is your Brain Overloaded by Too Much?
[Reading time: 3 mins 50 secs]
Are you tired of feeling overloaded by too many details from work? The brain isn't capable of organizing, prioritizing or categorizing the hundreds of tasks we have on our dockets. So what to do?
#1. Be clear about what your tasks/projects are
This is key. How can you stay caught up if you're not crystal clear about what you're supposed to be doing?
If every project and task is in one location (i.e. in a comprehensive project management system), great. You can move on to #2.
If your projects and tasks exist in several places - including in your head - then you've just discovered a big part of why it's been so difficult for you to stay caught up: Your brain can't keep it all straight.
We tell ourselves that we'll remember all the things we need to do. The fact however, is that it's impossible to remember everything. The brain isn't designed to hold and organize our To Dos like a fancy App. It's going to serve us best if we use it for concentrating, planning and creative thinking instead of as a storage compartment.
So what do you do?
You need to get all your To Dos out of your head and write down a Master List of your projects and tasks.
- Sit down with a stack of small sticky notes and a well-sharpened pencil. Spend an hour and do a brain dump of everything that you want/need to be working on.
- Group those sticky notes by category.
- Put those organized sticky notes in a binder or notebook called "Master List". You could also use 4-5 file folders.
Getting all those projects and tasks out of your head gives your brain space to work.
#2: Create weekly and daily plans
This planning won't take long: 20 minutes at the end of each week and 5 minutes at the end of each day.
Weekly and daily plans are strategic for several reasons:
- You are less likely to just focus on... whatever is on fire.
- If you get sidelined by interruptions, you know where to look to get back on track.
- They help you be realistic about what you can actually accomplish.
Using weekly and daily plans will help you let go of work after 5:00 pm. When you write things down and make a plan for yourself, you see and are reminded of what you need to be doing. Planning reduces the likelihood of forgetting things and then waking up at 2:00 am in a cold sweat because you didn't remember to do something important.
Weekly and daily plans help you leave your work thoughts at work - so you can be 100% present with your personal time. Here's how to create these plans:
We are wired to think on a weekly basis:
"I have meetings all week."
"Next week, I'm going to..."
"Last week was..."
The best time to do your weekly planning is at the end of the day on Friday, right before you close down your computer. It takes about 20 minutes.
I just connected with a GoBrainGo member who said "Using that weekly plan has made all the difference in my life. I feel like I've gotten myself back and I'm so grateful."
Here's how it works:
Step 1: Look at your calendar and take a close look at how much open time you have in the upcoming week. Your open time is all the hours when you aren't in a meeting, at an appointment or eating lunch. Add up how many hours of open time you have each day and your total open time for the whole week. In Step 2, you're going to make a list of everything you're going to work on but here's a valuable piece of advice: only plan for about 3/4 of your open hours. This is because you need to save time to answer phone calls and email, etc.
Step 2: Get out a sheet of paper, look at your Master List of projects and tasks and write down whatever you want to work on in the next week.
The key here is to under-promise and over-deliver.
The most common mistake that people make with a weekly plan is that it starts to become a Master List. You'll know you've been successful when the week is over and everything on the list is crossed off/completed.
The best time to create your daily plan is at the end of each day, right before you close down your computer. It takes about 5 minutes.
Step 1: What are your non-negotiable commitments tomorrow (i.e. appointments and meetings)? Block out some time for lunch and to answer emails/phone calls. Here's another time-saver: If you pack yourself a lunch even when you're working from home, your lunch break won't need to be so long.)
How many open hours do you have?
Step 2: Look at your weekly plan and write down whatever you want to/can do tomorrow. Don't write down anything you can't get done in your open hours. The key here is to under-promise and over-deliver.
Keep your Daily plan visible and with you or it will be out of sight and out of mind.
What are brain skills?
What we do and how we do it is driven by our brain skills. They determine our ability to focus, filter distractions, and whether or not we can plan/prioritize (and more). Each one of us has brain skills that are strong - and skills that are weak. The GoBrainGo approach is to show you how your brain works and then give you the tools/strategies to support your weaker brain skills.
GoBrainGo: Our brain-based videos put you in the driver's seat of your life.
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