No matter what issues busy and distracted executives are facing, from office interruptions and procrastination, to an overwhelming to-do list or needing to plan a multiphase project, pausing is always the first step. Pause gives us the opportunity to literally stop and think, to halt the frenzy and regain control before impulsively taking action. Pause is a chance to capture on paper the bazillion things we know we “have to” do: dangling loose ends, floating ideas that can immobilize us if we don’t know where to start, and dreams we’d like to accomplish at some point. The key to efficiency is to take hold of one knot in a seemingly tangled skein of yarn that is our workload on any given day and begin to unravel it. I always use a wonderful tool that I call a brain dump. It’s as useful a technique in planning a project as in confronting chaos and overwhelm.
A brain dump is a low-tech solution to a high tech problem that works every time: grabbing a pad and pen, and in no particular order, writing down everything that needs to be done. The point is to synthesize information, simplifying and demystifying whatever’s on our mind, so we’re able to focus on the tasks at hand. Capturing everything cleanly on paper and in one place establishes a consolidated central command post. The brain dump helps us to answer the question: “What is the first thing I have to do right now?” The act of pausing and taking inventory slows us down enough to begin to think, and to logically think it through.
In essence, this is a big STOP sign. Think about how we are running around all the time, we're impulsive, we're overwhelmed. We're also busy and get a false sense of satisfaction and confidence because we are accomplishing something-anything. Just because we are in action. Trouble however, is we're very often not purposeful or mindful of what we are doing and therefore not always doing the things that need to get done.
Pausing in the middle of all this activity and giving ourselves time to slow down, breathe and collect our thoughts will allow us to access the part of our brains that can plan and prioritize. This will allow us to think more clearly, stop procrastinating, address that sense of being overwhelmed and make good decisions all around.
This works....it really does. In fact it is one of the strategies the majority of my clients have come to rely on for getting things done.
Have a productive day!