Clearing Your Mental Desk

by Shelley

As caregivers, we have many projects awaiting our attention.  Weekly meal plans accompanied by grocery lists, creating a map of the quickest roundtrip route to use in order to accomplish the most errands in one day, arranging to have all necessary community resources and equipment in place for the arrival of a parent due home from the hospital or even going to lunch with a friend are just a few examples.

But sometimes, all the other things on our To Do list make it difficult for us to sit down and concentrate on the project at hand.  All these other items are swimming around in our head and clogging up the thought lines.

Here is a short exercise taught to me by my friend and mentor, Sandra Martini, that has really helped me to be more productive.  It’s called Clearing Your Mental Desk and I’d love to share it with you!

1.  Get yourself a timer.  It can be a kitchen timer, the stopwatch on your cell phone, even the oven timer will work.

2. Now sit yourself down in an uncluttered space with a blank sheet of paper or two and a pen or pencil. It’s best to use pen/pencil and paper to do this exercise as it works a different part of the brain, but it can be done using your computer, as well.

3. Set your timer for 15 minutes. (I use one in the shape of a strawberry that I bought at Michael’s for 3 dollars.)

4.  Write down EVERYTHING that is on your mind, from washing the dishes to calling the furnace repair man to sewing on a button to consulting an elderlaw attorney.  Just write it all down in list form.  Don’t stop writing until the timer goes off.

5.  Once the timer goes off, stop writing and go over your list.

6.  At this point, if you are planning to work on a project, just set the list aside to go over later.  Now your mind is clear and you can concentrate on your project much better.  THIS REALLY WORKS!

(If you do NOT have a project, check off about 7 items that you would like to accomplish TODAY.  Attack each item, one by one, starting with the first one and proceeding until all 7 items are completed or until you run out of time.  If all 7 items are completed, you can choose 1-2 more to work on. )

It’s best to take 10-15 minutes to clear your mental desk every day because new (possibly high priority items) may be added to your To Do list.

I have begun keeping a spiral notebook for my mental desk clearing so that I can review the older notes  once a day until everything is checked off that needs to be checked off.

You will be amazed at how much more you can accomplish when using this exercise.


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