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About a week ago, I found myself simultaneously thinking about writing this blog, handling client invoices, cleaning the ceiling fan, drinking more water, checking to see if I put my new mammogram date on the calendar, mailing my sister a birthday card, giving the dog his medicine, sending thank you notes, finding toilet paper, reminding my son to start his car since he’s been home for so many days during quarantine, and at least 20 more things. All At. The. Same. Time.


Did that make you feel exhausted just by reading it? Does your brain often feel like a computer with 27 tabs open? Luckily, I’ve found a solution. They’re called brain dumps.


Why Brain Dumps?


I teach clients that the most effective way to de-clutter any space is to take everything out and only put things that help you accomplish your work or enjoy your life back in. The same is true for thoughts and ideas that take up space in your head. By getting everything out, you free up space for creativity, giving yourself the ability to focus on and tackle those important tasks.


Write EVERYTHING Down


To do a brain dump, all you need is something to write on and something to write with. Your goal is to write down absolutely everything that comes to mind. Really - everything. Let your mind wander! Don’t force yourself to make a list of “to-do” items, but instead write down any type of thought that comes to mind. I recently had a client who said the same thought came up twice. That’s okay if that happens…write it down still. You’re not only closing those “open tabs,” you’re also allowing things to come from your subconscious up to the surface.


What it Looks Like and When to do it Every brain dump will look different. Some brain dumps may be a page of organized bullet points while others may look like mind maps and scribbles. The most important thing is that you’re able to get it down on paper. When you choose to do a brain dump is a personal decision that you’ll make. For example, I prefer doing these brain dumps early on Sundays, and then walking away and letting any additional ideas come to me during the day. As they come to me throughout the day, I’ll jot them down, and then organize my lists Sunday night. No matter when you do them, I recommend that you do the initial dump in a quiet place free from distractions.


Organize Your Thoughts


After your initial brain dump, it’s important to come back to it later on to form a plan of action. When you return to your brain dump, your goal is to make a game plan for everything you want to accomplish from it. You’ll want to identify action steps for each item and add them to your calendar, to-do lists, shopping lists, and more so that they are not forgotten.


When it comes to organizing your thoughts, here are ways to separate and tackle each type of item on your list:

  • Quick Results: Read through your list and identify anything that can be done in 10 minutes or less. If you have time, knock some of them out right away.

  • Upcoming Tasks: For things you can’t do today, work on prioritizing the tasks in order of importance and figuring out when you can focus on them. Add them to your to-do list, your calendar, your CRM, or the appropriate place to keep track.

  • Projects: Break up large projects into smaller action items. Always ask yourself, “What is the next action that needs to be done on this project?” Write that down on your list. Many also keep a “Project” list as well in a notebook, Google doc, or task manager app.

  • Errands: Your brain dump will likely include a variety of errands to run and groceries you need. Create a specific checklist for groceries and errands.

  • Thoughts and Feelings: For thoughts that aren’t task-related, like feelings of loneliness or stress about being unhealthy, try to think of one or two actions you can take in the next week or two that will help. Schedule lunch with a friend and sign up for a virtual yoga class. Taking even one small step is a great start! I sometimes realize that I need to journal separately about a thought that surfaces during the process, so be open to this as well.

  • Delete and Delegate: As you review your brain dump, take some time to identify items that you can delegate or simply leave undone.


Your Turn


Some weeks I take the time to carefully transfer my brain dump items to the categories above, and other weeks I only pull out the urgent items. You want this exercise to feel freeing, not like another chore.


While some may benefit from having a specific day to do a brain dump each week, they can come in handy for those times you feel overwhelmed, are planning for the upcoming week, month, or year, feel stuck or out of balance, or have multiple projects on the horizon. Brain dumps are one helpful tool for improving mental clarity, focus, and peace. Experiment with what works for you and let me know what you find! If you’d like to talk through the process or have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.


It sounds easy (and even appealing) to roll out of bed and report to work in your pajamas. If you’re working from home, whether it’s a new development or not, you don’t have to worry about a commute, interacting with other humans, packing a lunch, or any other daily tasks that interfere with your work. However, when you are the only thing holding yourself accountable, it’s harder to stay disciplined.


Some of us work too much, forgetting to take care of ourselves and take necessary breaks. Others get distracted, watching TV or hanging out with family while shirking responsibilities. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, here are five steps to help you establish a routine and avoid mental clutter while working from home.


Mentally go to work

Although you aren’t reporting to a physical office, an important aspect of establishing a remote routine is putting yourself into an “office mindset.” If your living space is large enough, it’s great to have an office where you can shut the door and disconnect from your family/home life. However, even if you are working on your laptop from your living room couch, you can still go through the process of getting yourself in the mindset to work. A good place to start is maintaining a morning routine. Do your workout, get fully dressed, eat breakfast, or complete other elements of your normal morning routine. This separates you from the leisurely “day at home” and ensures that you begin your workday as productively as possible.


Schedule your day

Remember: what gets scheduled gets done. While working from home, it’s all too easy to take a break to walk the dog or run upstairs to start a load of laundry. If you know you will have personal obligations during your workday, schedule them into your day as break time and fully disconnect from work during that time. That way, your work and personal life won’t bleed into each other, and your breaks from work will still feel productive.


But…Live life

Scheduling your day is important so that personal time doesn’t bleed into work time, but also so that work time doesn’t overtake your life. If you associate your entire house with your work life, you will find it difficult to relax in your home. During one of your scheduled breaks, leave your workspace and watch a video, write poetry, play with your pets, or do anything that is a positive recreational activity and takes your mind off work. When you intentionally return to work you will be more productive.


Connect with coworkers

An easy way to increase productivity and stay focused while at home is staying in touch with coworkers. You can still build meaningful relationships remotely. Try video calls, messaging apps, or even email exchanges. It’s important to feel connected to your work and to remind yourself that you are a part of something bigger. These relationships with coworkers provide vital socialization as well, as we know it’s far too easy to sit at home in your pajamas and avoid social interaction. If you work for yourself, find a friend who is knowledgeable about the business you’re doing and exchange ideas. Simply having someone to talk to about your work will help you feel more engaged.


Be honest with yourself

Even if you create a routine, build a workspace at home, and take meaningful breaks throughout your workday, you still might experience the lazy day doldrums from time to time. The most important aspect of working from home is to be honest with yourself. Are you getting everything accomplished? Are you keeping work and home life separate? Are you finding time to eat nourishing meals? Do you feel happy and healthy? Be honest with yourself and challenge yourself to build a successful environment.


Since we don’t know when we’ll be done working from home, it’s important to put these five tips into practice to avoid that mental clutter and make the most of your new “office.” If I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. You can schedule a free call right here.


Talk to you soon...and thanks for reading!


Kerry Thomas

Conquer the Chaos

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle


Today is the day...the final step of the 5 Step Productive Environment Process! This process assists you in planning to accomplish any goal. Big or small, professional or personal, this process helps you achieve the next goal on your list.


If you want to go back and read through steps one through four, visit them first:

Step 1: State Your Vision

Step 2: Identify Your Obstacles

Step 3: Commit Your Resources

Step 4: Create and Execute Your Plan


What was your goal from the start? Maybe this goal has changed based on your life circumstances. In the midst of this pandemic, things may seem up in the air! If you’re staying at home for the time being, you might have household or home office goals but be unsure of the framework to get them done.


Enter this process. After you’ve set your vision, identified your obstacles, committed your resources, and created your plan to execute, the final step may seem natural...but it’s actually the step people miss the most and it’s the step MOST needed for lasting change. Today, it’s time to Sustain your Success!


Accountability


If you want lasting results and lasting change after making and executing your plan, there are two things you must have: accountability and maintenance. Did you know you are 67% more likely to be successful with an accountability partner than if you tackle a goal on your own? While your accountability partner doesn’t have to be on track for the same goal as you, it’s important to identify a person (or group) who understands your goal and is dedicated to checking in to help you reach it.


Maintenance


Maintenance ensures that you take the necessary steps to make the changes. To make things a habit, you need to schedule them in advance so that you will keep up with them. For example, think of filing papers. Realistically, you won’t file papers every day or as papers come in (which is why I teach my clients to have a place to keep papers “to be filed”). Instead of wishful thinking, schedule the filing. Maybe for you this is every Wednesday or the last day of every month. I file twice a month during a webinar that I join that is “listen only.” I don’t ever get too far behind, but I also don’t worry about filing at any other time.


The Final Step


Regardless of your goal, think of the accountability and maintenance needed to make it happen. If your goal was to wear your “old” jeans again, find a friend who will check in with you each week and then schedule out your workouts in advance. If your goal was to plan a renovation, establish the guidelines and budget with your partner, friend, or contractor and set up a schedule for when things will get done. This final step of the process finishes the framework so that you can be on your way to not only meeting your goals but exceeding them!


Ready to Meet Your Goals?


Have you designed your plan to achieve your goals? Do you need assistance in staying accountable or want help identifying maintenance steps? I’m here for you. Find that accountability and get a teammate on your side by contacting me today. We can get a free consultation on the books.


Talk soon,


Kerry Thomas

Conquer the Chaos