I will not make a scrap basket of my mind. ~Author unknown, c. early 1900s
People often ask why I get up so early each morning (3:35 am PST if you must know); I usually explain it is the only time of day I have to myself: no phone calls, no texts, and nobody calling out “Mom!”
My early morning routine is very consistent: mediation, writing, gratitude, and envisioning my day, however, lately, I’ve been feeling lethargic and out-of-sorts. This morning, I thought about why that was and then it dawned on me: it had been several weeks since I sat down and did a Brain Dump.
I’d like to think that for the most part, I am fairly organized and keep things running smoothly at home, however, it just seems like I am juggling a few more balls than usual: planning my upcoming trip to London and Wales, an added weekly appointment for my older son’s ARFID, and wrapping up my Board Advisor role in my women’s club – somewhere in the midst of these distractions, I hadn’t set aside some time for a good Brain Dump.
My Brain Dump consists of sitting down in the quiet of my office. The cell phone and my laptop are powered off and the office door is closed. I usually settle into my comfy chair, a legal pad on my lap, pen in hand as I write down whatever pops into my head. The free flow of random ideas and thoughts that have been taking up space in my head comes out on the paper.
Sometimes my Brain Dump straddles the fine line of a To Do list: things that need to happen but when added to my daily planner, makes my planner just a simple checklist. My daily planner consists of items that are time sensitive and related to the goals I have set for myself. Thinks like “shred old documents” and “have an extra house key made” need to get done, but they aren’t tied to my goals and I don’t want them taking up space in my planner. Instead, I’ve allowed them to take up prime real estate in my head.
Other times my Brain Dump is an assault of negativity from my Inner Critic: “You forgot to submit the insurance claims” or “You still need to drop off donations to the shelter”. The Inner Critic wants to point out all the things I haven’t completed or things I need to do. My Inner Critic thinks my head is a five-star resort where he lounges around and barking orders and making demands.
While daily meditation helps me feel balanced and allow me to observe my thoughts and feelings without judgment, sometimes a good sweep or shake out of the mental clutter helps give me a jumpstart or motivates me to get the small, insignificant stuff out of the way.
This morning after I mediated, a lightbulb went off in my head: Brain Dump! I grabbed my pen and a legal pad and quickly got to work decluttering my brain. When all was said and done, I had completed nearly two pages of mental clutter. It was wonderful.
As I reviewed what I had written, I pulled out my colored Flairs and circled things I could easily complete by the end of today: write a blog post, do laundry, and schedule driver training – in red ink.
I took my green Flair and circled the things my Inner Critic had pointed out I hadn’t completed: file insurance claims, go to the bank, order corsages for the prom. These were items for this week’s To Do list.
I took my orange Flair and circled items I could delegate to someone else or postpone until next week: return books to the library and get shred documents. These were items I could delegate to the kids.
Finally, I took my blue Flair and circled items that weren’t important and could wait a few weeks: drop off donations and get a new battery and strap for my watch.
I looked down at my paper: the clutter from my head was spread out all over the paper; by identifying the appropriate action for each piece of clutter, I had transformed the paper into a rainbow of color and peace.
Like any decluttered area, my mind felt cleaner and lighter. I felt refreshed and ready for the new week.
The basket is empty, waiting to be filled again, this time I’ll be ready to tackle it before it overflows.