Mindkeeping is an effective strategy for tidying up accumulated clutter in your mind.
Mindkeeping provides an opportunity to write down and sort through the various thoughts, emotions, ideas, tasks, commitments, chores, etc. that are constantly running through your conscious (and unconscious) mind. This mind clutter takes up mental space and energy that could be used more creatively, productively, and positively.
I describe this process as “Mindkeeping” (a play on “Housekeeping”) - or a way of getting your life together by getting your mind in order.
As with de-cluttering your physical space, Mindkeeping involves:
- Phase 1: Pulling everything out (the “Brain Dump”)
- Phase 2: Sorting through everything (Eliminate/Negotiate/Delegate to E.N.D. Overwhelm)
- Phase 3: Organizing what is left into a system that works for you (e.g. KonMari, Desire Map, GTD, 7 Habits)
Phase 1: The Brain Dump
Get things OFF your mind and ON the page. The “Page” can be physical (index cards, small notebook, paper planner, etc.) and/or digital (smart phone, productivity app, online planner, etc.). Choose whatever is easiest for you to use most consistently. For example, if you always have your phone, that might be a good tool to use to “write” things down as soon as they come to mind. If you always have a small notebook or index cards ready at hand, that is also a great option. This phase is pretty straight forward. It is simply, but not easy. (I have done an entire workshop with Meggin McIntosh focusing specifically on this step, she calls this her "Mind Sweeping Event".)
Phase 2: Eliminate/Negotiate/Delegate – E.N.D. Overwhelm
ELIMINATE: to completely remove or get rid of something, exclude from consideration or further participation.
- Review your pile of index cards or notebook sheets and think about what items can be eliminated (i.e., you just stop doing them and realize that the world will keep turning and your quality of life might actually improve significantly).
- What are your strategies for determining what to eliminate?
NEGOTIATE: to try to reach an agreement to compromise by discussion with others, to find a way over or through an obstacle, to transfer over to another person.
- Think about what items can be negotiated with others. Identify items on your list that could/should have shared responsibility (e.g. team projects, co-authored projects at work and/or domestic duties that benefit everyone at home, but you find that you are always the only one doing them). If other people are (or should be) involved in what happens at work or at home, then it is time to have a frank discussion about this with the parties involved (or the parties that should be involved). The objective of the discussion is to negotiate a redistribution of the responsibilities at work and at home in a fair and equitable way.
- What are your strategies for determining what to negotiate?
DELEGATE: to entrust to another person, to send or authorize someone to do something as a representative.
- Think about what home services can be delegated or contracted out by paying someone else to do it (e.g., cooking, house cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, lawn care, snow removal, babysitting - the possibilities are endless!)
- What are your strategies for determining what to delegate?
Once you have determined what you can Eliminate/Negotiate/Delegate at home, your original list from Phase 1 (The Brain Dump) should be a bit more manageable. If not, consider what is keeping you from letting go of some of these to do items. For example, do you actually really like being super busy, spread too thin, and stressed out all the time? Are you afraid of being rejected if you stop trying to be all things to all people? Do you enjoy the sense of control you feel by doing everything at home (everyone has to come through you to get anything)? No judgment here - just some things to think about as we go to the next phase...
Phase 3: Organize What is Left Into a System
You may find your own unique combination of different systems more helpful than a single system for organization and productivity. Remember, you want to figure out what works best for YOU and helps you to feel (and be) more empowered in your life’s choices (large and small). Whatever system(s) you choose, simplicity and consistency are key. Below are a few popular systems to consider.
KonMari Method [See Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up]
- This is actually an organizing method for your physical space created by Marie Kondo, but I think it is also applicable to mental space and work/life commitments
- Gather everything together according to category (take the items you collected and separate them by category)
- Keep (or in this case do) only that which sparks joy! (Yes, if the item does not spark joy, using this approach, it could go in the “eliminate” or perhaps the “delegate” pile.)
- Identify a space (in this case in your calendar) for those things that spark joy in your life. (If it does spark joy, invite more of that into your life and allow your calendar to reflect those joyful things.)
Desire Mapping (Guiding Principles) [See Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul]
- Danielle LaPorte’s general claim is that you are not really chasing the goals, you are chasing the feeling that you get when you accomplish the goals.
- With this in mind, the idea is to allow your goals to be inspired by your core desired feelings rather than the other way around.
- Starting point: What are your core desired feelings in the key areas of your life (e.g. work, relationships, finances, etc.)? From here, identify and align your goals with those core desired feelings. Using your collection of index cards and/or notebook sheets, consider how you would put them into a system using your core desired feelings as the main rubric. How might you do more eliminating/negotiating/delegating with this in mind?
Getting Things Done (Basics) [See David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity]
- Capture and collect all incomplete items
- Process all incomplete items (put them in actionable steps)
- Organize the results (action items)
- Review your options (make adjustments as needed)
- Make choices (about what to do and when)
7 Habits (Time Management Quadrants Basics) [See Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change]
- Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important (e.g. immediate and important deadlines)
- Quadrant 2: Not Urgent and Important (e.g. Iong-term planning and development)
- Quadrant 3: Urgent and Not Important (e.g. unimportant but time sensitive items due to others)
- Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important (e.g. daily grind, low yield activities)
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