My new “weight” loss plan

Photo courtesy of John Athayde (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of John Athayde (Creative Commons)

The last week has been one filled with distractions and fires to put out, both professionally and personally. Actually, if I’m being honest, it’s not just the last week but the last month or so. Such a constant barrage of things to deal with has left me spent and unfocused.

I suspect part of that distraction stems from a general state of disorder in my head. Rather than having clear goals and action steps to get there, I have been allowing the muck to flow in and obscure that clarity. Rather than stopping to refocus on the land, I’ve allowed myself to be tossed on the waves and make little progress. In fact, I suspect the current has carried me further from the land, and I need to stop, find the shore, and start swimming in the right direction.

My friend made a comment this week that the “weight” in our shared office needed to be lifted, after we had a conversation the day before about the burdens we each have on us. Things like work stresses, of course, but also pressing family issues, concerns, other commitments, and worries.

The only way I see to reduce those burdens, is to identify them. It felt really good to talk about it the other day, but I plan to take it a step further. By writing down all the things I have on my mind, from the errands I need to run to the projects I need to plan to the long-term issues I need to deal with, I can see the full scope of my “weight” and start to make plans to reduce it.

David Allen, productivity guru and bestselling author of Getting Things Done, advocates getting everything out of your head. His GTD methodology involves capturing everything that has your attention, and then deciding what to do with it. What is the next action step necessary to move that “thing” forward?

By identifying all those niggly little things that keep you awake at night, you can start to make progress on either making them happen or letting them go. Once you can see the whole scope of your “open loops,” you can start to manage them instead of letting them manage you.

One of my challenges is that I love lists. But I tend to constantly start new lists, and then forget to look at the old lists. I capture all the things that have my attention and get that instant gratification of having them off my mind for a bit, but then I don’t address them properly. Then they come back roaring in the middle of the night or when I need to be focused on something else. That is why I might have the same item on 3 different lists but still haven’t done it! Not very helpful, is it?

It’s time for that to change! Over the next few days, I intend to do a complete “brain dump” and get all those things in my head down on paper (or typed into Evernote). Then I will honestly assess each one to identify the next step or put it on a someday/maybe list and let go of it.

Once I have the next steps, then I can start digging in to get things done and make progress. I suspect that while it will be completely overwhelming at first, once I identify the “weight,” it will release pent-up worries and allow me to think more clearly about how to start closing some of those loops.

I have no illusions of being free from worries, but I do expect to function more effectively and spend less time frustrated.

How do you lose your mental “weight”?