When you’re experiencing brain overload, it’s hard to focus on anything with efficiency or clarity. It can be challenging to get things done and even harder to take a break. It’s just plain overwhelming to have so many things on your mind all the time.
Signs you might be experiencing brain overload:
- Thinking about all the things you’ve got on your to-do list
- Obsessing about everything that’s been going wrong
- Thinking of everything that might go wrong
- Pouring over the same details in your mind, in an endless loop
- Imagining the worst and hoping for the best
- Your mind is always on guard, protecting you from the possibility that you might forget some tiny detail or an important task
What can you do about brain overload?
There are are many solutions actually, but today I’d like to tell you about one DIY method for getting fast relief.
When I say fast, I don’t mean you can snap your fingers, and it’s done. It will require a little of your dedicated attention, but it’s worth the effort.
The first time I did this exercise, it took close to an hour. I still remember the palpable feeling of relief! It not only gave me a mental break but also invited new creativity to come up in the projects I was choosing to focus on.
Today when I do this exercise it only takes 10-15 minutes.
Ending brain overload now
This method is like brain-dumping on steroids. It will help you achieve the following:
- Increased mental clarity
- Feeling more peace and calm
- Release overwhelming feelings
- Free-up brain space for active thinking or resting
- Better sleep
- Increased creativity and a surge of new ideas or solutions
- Become aware of repetitive thoughts you’d like to eliminate
Here’s how to do it
Step 1: To-do list brain dump
Grab a notebook, a giant sheet of paper or a journal.
Write down the heading: “To-do list.” Now write down every single thing that you can possibly think of that you have to, want to do, or are even thinking about doing.
Give it your full attention. Write as quickly as you can and let the words flow. Once you’ve written down everything you can possibly think of, stop.
Step 2: Other categories
Create new headings and repeat. You might do titles for:
- Things you’re worried about
- Crappy things that have happened recently
- Things you’re excited about or looking forward to
Now that you’ve got everything out of your brain and onto paper, are you feeling less burdened already?
Step 3: Color-coding
Grab some highlighters of colorful pens or markers. Now go through with a single color and circle or highlight every item on your to-do list that is related to your work or business.
Now grab a different color and circle or highlight each item on each list that pertains to your family or friends.
Select a third color and circle or highlight each item on your lists that’s personal.
Step 4: Prioritize
Go through each item on your lists and decide if it is something that needs to be done – put a star next to each of those items.
Now go through the list and decide which items might need to be done or would be nice to have done. Put an X by those items.
Go through one last time and determine which items are totally unnecessary/don’t need to be done/ you don’t want to do them. Draw a single line through those items.
Repeat for the other lists, but instead of thinking in terms of what needs to be done you’ll decide what thoughts are constructive, possibly helpful or really unhelpful.
Step 5: Sort and archive
Now open up a Word or Pages document. Write a heading that says: “Must Do” at the top. Then create 3 sub-headings with the titles :
Under each sub-heading, write down all the starred items under the “Must-Do” heading for each category.
Now type out all the “X-ed” items in the “Might Do” list for each category.
Let all the items that have a line through them stay where they are. Just having written them out in long form and processed them with a decision is usually enough. Now symbolically leave those behind on your hand-written draft.
You may now choose to move things into an order of priority if you wish, or you can just leave the list as it is. Only move stuff around if you feel it will help you to know which items need your attention first.
Step 6: Repeat for other categories
Repeat steps 3-5 for the other lists you’ve created:
- Things you’re worried about
- Crappy stuff that’s happened to you recently
- Things you’re excited about, looking forward to
Step 7: Breathe
Close your eyes, take a nice deep breath in and exhale slowly. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
Now enjoy a lighter feeling in your mind and body, knowing that you’ve given attention to everything that your brain has been screaming at you to deal with. Plus, you now have easy access to everything in a handy, fully-organized document.
Is it worth a few minutes or an hour of your time to get some relief from brain overload? Is it worth making this a weekly ritual?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.