I’m going to guess that the majority of you, like me, has some type of to do list you use to help keep your life organized. It may be a quick post-it note for what is on the agenda for the day, or it may be a planner tracking system for all of your weekly and monthly tasks. Either way, many of us feel compelled to jot down what we need to do so that we can stop “thinking” about it and move onto the work for the day.
But what about those thoughts and ideas that don’t fit into a daily to do category? The ones that rattle around in our brain, requiring deeper thought, time to analyze, mull over. And yet they have an urgency about them due to their impact on our lives, popping up at the most inconvenient times trying to gain our attention. Allowing these unfettered thoughts to flit into and out of our brains can be quite stressful. It is also using up our precious brain power for the day (and yes, we all only have so much brain power in our daily reservoir) and we are then taking away our attention to an actual task at hand. And as I’m sure we can all attest to…oftentimes the task at hand is to go to sleep, yet this is the most opportune time these thoughts find to race through our minds, leaving us to toss and turn all night.
Pin down these thoughts the same as you would your daily and weekly tasks. Give them a time and place to be contemplated the same as you would going to the grocery store or writing a work memo. It may seem strange at first to write down a to do item that says “Saturday, 10am-10:30am, consider pros/cons of getting masters degree”, but I promise you’ll be amazed at the relief you’ll get once you’ve pinned it down. You’ve told your brain you are going to think about it on Saturday, so there’s no need for it to pop up in your mind before then. And for any stray thoughts that have yet to be pinned down, that show up just as our heads hit the pillow or in the middle of the night, be sure to keep a pad of paper and pen next to your bed and pin them down at that moment. This will help ease your mind and ensure a better night’s sleep.
June 23, 2015