Saturday, April 23, 2005

Focus & Planning (the Brain Dump)

The "Brain Dump" is a term coined by John Reese in his well-known 17 page PDF newsletter that was sent out last summer. If you missed it, you can download it here - the Brain Dump details begin on page 5 or 6.

I've always kept task lists and goal sheets, but I really like the format that John uses and have adopted that for my focus & planning sessions. It's important to sit down and evaluate your progress and even to adjust goals and action plans when necessary.

This is a good time for me to do the Brain Dump - which is basically just taking all of your wants, needs, need-to-do's, have-to-do's, and even financial data... and putting it down on paper in front of you (and out of your brain - where it tends to distract you constantly).

The move was a big disruption to my "routine" of course, and it is taking me a bit of time to adjust. I've spent the last few weeks moving out, moving in, unpacking, getting settled, getting caught up on my work, getting my two children adjusted to the move, and getting adjusted myself... all the while with a million and one things going through my mind non-stop.

The biggest sections of my 'Brain Dump' have always been the "Everything You Need To Do" and "All of Your Business Ideas" sections - with the toughest part being the Master To Do List and then prioritizing each task on it. Simply because it was an overwhelming list.

This time... it's worse than ever (*laugh*).

Still, the timing couldnt be better because I really needed that 'direction' right now. Instead of an overwhelming head-full of thoughts and ideas and notions... it's a tangible list that I can look at, and that I can mark things off of, that I can accomplish one item at a time. I can even wad it up and burn it if I want (LOL).

And it replaces every other mini-list that I've toted around or had posted next to my monitor for the last couple of weeks... which is super-nice. It's sort of a major "clutter removal" exercise. Very energizing, very motivating.

I set aside the time to do this today because I wanted to motivate myself to come up with a new routine, to 'get back in my groove' now that I have the free time and the ability to really focus on things again. I have to admit - it's been tough. Not only do I miss my Grandmother... but I feel a bit out of sorts without 'our schedule'. I'm sure it will pass, and I won't deny that I'm more rested and even somewhat relieved now that a bit of time has gone by. Still, it's going to take some time to get totally adjusted to all of the changes... and for now the Brain Dump serves as a great motivator to get things rolling in the right direction.

Since I'm still unpacking the office and getting things organized here, I also took this opportunity to go through all of my filing drawers and get them cleaned out and better organized. That is helping me a great deal in getting all of my to-do's down, and also getting rid of (or archiving) a lot of things that I just dont need anymore... making room for all of the current things that really should have a file - instead of a place in a pile on my desk.

I'm running into old idea sheets, niche lists and files on potential projects that I had completely forgotten about. It's quite fun, actually. As for motivating me, and getting me back in the right mindset... it's definitely doing the trick!

I decided not to rush it today, and am sitting up tonight working late on it instead. It's been a long day here with things to do and the children to tend to and such. While I did make a lot of progress on it (and the unpacking & organization) today already, there's nothing like the peace & quiet of a late night to really sit down and focus with a clear mind ;)