I don’t know about you, but I continually find that I have too many ideas zooming around in my head. Like a proton in an atom, they continually move from place to place, disappearing here and reappearing there. They fill my mind with light that is often too bright to look at. Sometimes it’s too much to bear and I cry out to God for an ‘off-switch’ just so I can give my mind a rest for a minute or get some sleep.
The more ideas I start thinking about the more ideas I gain. I never worry about someone stealing my idea, because I know I will have a thousand more that day. Most of the time the ideas come so fast that I can’t keep up.
Because of this way my brain works, the results are either, or all, of the following:
The first on this list does me no good. The second and third can help get things started, but can simply lead to the fourth if I don’t do anything with them. The fifth is the goal, and the only true measure of the worth of my ideas.
Trust me, no one wants to hear about a film, book, or new business you are going to make. But let me tell you once you have published a book, released a film, built a business – then people see you in a whole new light, and give you the respect you probably deserve. You have to actually do something – not just talk about stuff.
I’ve learned to harness my flow of ideas by doing the following:
1. Writing down my thoughts in a notepad or app takes them out of my brain and stores them in a safe place until I can give them the time they deserve at a later date.
2. Focusing on one thought at one time. I switch everything off, often not checking my email until 4pm in a workday, turn off all social media, and focus on that single task for a set period of time.
3. Create a written plan. I use a task or project management app called Asana which allows me to randomly write down single thoughts as they come into my head, and then later sort them into projects, groups, sub-groups, plus assign each task to different people in my team. There are similar programs around, but I love Asana because it helps me manage my time and my team’s time without getting distracted by my email box. I will often check my email once a day only, and create tasks in Asana from those emails, before clearing my inbox for the day. The same as taking the thoughts out of my brain and entering them into a notebook or app, I take these emailed thoughts out of my inbox, and enter them into my task manager. Once they are out of one area and into a planner, they are out of my mind.
4. Set aside specific time to work on specific projects. I protect myself from interruptions. When I have a lot of writing to do, I usually work from home, so that I don’t get people in the office interrupting me.
5. Glue bum to seat. Glue eyes to screen. The job will only get done if I sit there and do it. A book won’t get written unless I hit those keys on the keyboard that rest under my hands. If I get up every 20 minutes for a toilet break then nothing will get accomplished. I must sit there like someone has put a gun to my head and work without ceasing.
The above 5 points are what keep me sane. They are also what enable me to actually produce something I can show people. And importantly, these 5 steps help me to clear my mind enough to enjoy time relaxing with my family, and actually sleep at night.
Do these steps work for you? I’d love you to share below the way you manage your brain.