I recently traveled down to the LA area with my hubs and daughter to visit family for spring break and thought of you as I tried to survive those last few days before vacation. You know… the ones we over-pack with to-do’s we must get done before going on vacation so we exhaust ourselves to the point of truly needing a vacation. I can’t be the only one that does that, right?!
I overbooked myself that week in addition to needing to get the dogs squared away, pack my daughter and myself, clean the house (I hate coming home to a dirty house after a long trip!), etc. As I started to swim in anxiety about getting it all done, I remembered my trick for taming the mental chaos. It’s a good one and I want you to know about it.
If you try this out, let me know how it goes!
Four Simple Steps for Taming Mental Chaos
Any time you have too much stuff bouncing around inside your head and it starts to create that low-level anxiety (or maybe not so low) that feels like a constant buzz–but not the good kind–there’s a very simple four-step plan you can use to tame the chaos and help yourself feel like you’ve got things under control.
Step 1: Make a list of every single thing rolling around in your head taking up space. Every.single.thing. Get the chaos out of your head and onto paper. It might still be chaos but at least it will clear some head space. At this point, the order doesn’t matter nor does the format or anything else. Just do a hand-written brain-dump.
Now you can literally see everything that’s been consuming your mental energy on a piece of paper in front of you.
Step 2: Organize your list. Group your items together in a way that makes sense to you – by category, priority, to-do, thoughts to save for later… whatever makes sense to you. You’ll probably use a variety of ways to organize your list if your brain was really full. You should start to see now that some items will require immediate action and others you can save for later when you have less on your plate. Some may require no action at all other than to allow whatever feeling is coming up for you.
Step 3: Make a plan. For the items that bubble to the top and require action, make a plan for how you want to tackle each one. Set some goals around these items and make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound–Google SMART goals if this is new to you!).
You should already be feeling a little more in control now that you know exactly what’s on your mind, when it needs to be addressed, and how you’re going to take care of it. You may still be overwhelmed if your list is long but at least now you can include delegation, getting help, changing timelines, etc. in your plan now.
Step 4: Execute on your plan. Start working on the goals and actions you decided on in step 3 in the same way you eat an elephant, one bite at a time!
That’s it… dump, organize, plan, execute. Four very simple steps to put you back in control that work anytime you’re feeling anxious because you have so many thoughts rolling around inside your head that you can no longer keep track of them.
I’ve used this process so many times for different reasons – legit hard-core to-do lists for work, too many fun ideas floating around in my head for summer vacation, packing for an upcoming trip and making sure I don’t forget anything important, etc. I hope it’s useful to you. Let me know if it comes in handy!
BONUS TIP!! You know those items that are the “save for later” thoughts that you want to hang on to but don’t really have anywhere to save them? Check out Evernote if you’re not already using it. You can use Evernote for your to-do lists as well but I find it’s most helpful to me in the random thoughts and notes area. A lifesaver, actually! I could go on for days about how wonderful and powerful it is, but check it out for this one simple use and see if it grows on you.
P.S. Our trip was wonderful! My daughter is seven and recently discovered the Harry Potter books and is IN LOVE. We went to visit family and took her to Universal Studios to visit Harry Potter World, along with her uncle and cousin. SO FUN! There’s nothing like watching a little girl get all “fan girl” over books, right?! She’s totally a little Hermione. 🙂 (proud mamma!!)
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