Take 5 minutes — twice a day … to clear your mind.
Write down everything that crossed your brain.
Get it out. Dump it. Then decide if you should own it.
What’s the Point?
Everyone is inundated with stuff. Every day more and more stuff is crossing our streams. From what we see on TV, consume on the Internet and to what we are exposed to at work. Also, to what we hear on the radio, in the hallway and out in public. The volume of stuff is increasing, but the quality is not necessarily keeping pace.
My suggestion is take a FMBD – A Five Minute Brain Dump
Of course, you can’t possibly document EVERYTHING that crosses your brain, but you can and should take some time periodically for a Five Minute Brain Dump.
Pro Tip: Put it on your calendar … add “Take FMBD”
A FMBD allows you to take stock of all the things that are coming at you and decide which ones deserve and/or require your time. The end result is that you will have more control over your time and you will stand out in your career.
What Can You Do About It?
The current buzzword is “curate” the stuff that crosses your data streams.
Curate – cu·rate – kyo͝oˈrāt,ˈkyo͝oˌrāt/
… to select, organize, and present information.
Whether you agree with the term or not there is some logic here. When you take the time to parse through the steams of content that are coming your way you can make a conscious decision to take action, delay action, to delegate action, or as the FMBD implies to dump action. Meaning just drop it off your radar and forget about it.
Where to Start?
There are a lot of ways you can do this. I prefer a combination of notes, lists and white boards. Depending upon what I have readily available. A few of the options I use are listed below along with a brief description.
- Mind Map – This is a tried and true method that may allow you to see associations that may not have been obvious from a list or a mental map.
- Lists – The goto standard. Everyone likes to check off items on their todo list. Having a list of items on your mind, then stack ranking them, and finally deciding what to do with them is freeing.
- White Board – This can be a modified mind map or it be a combination of things where you may be working with yourself and you may included others that might provide useful input and guidance.
- Paper – Whether it’s a notebook, a sheet of paper of a butcher block roll of paper there is something freeing about being able to write things down. One advantage with paper is that you can wad it up and toss it into the trash for that added extra freeing feeling.
- Post-It Notes – Again, this is a lot like paper, but there are a lot of options that can be employed. Something as simple as using different colors for different projects (or if working in a group for each person) can easily be employed.
- Index Cards – I have used index cards for years to capture my thoughts. Very much like post-in notes you can quickly re-arrange content to suit your needs.
- Talk it Out with yourself, your team, your peers, your mentor
Tools: I prefer Microsoft OneNote. Evernote is also a popular option. Both are free and can be used across all of your devices.
What’s in it for you?
When you do this you will find that you are more productive and you make better use of your day. Also, by dumping everything from your mind you will find that you can be more present in every conversation.
As mentioned above you will standout in your career too. Why? Because you will be able to focus on what’s important, delegate tasks and projects, and drop things that don’t align with your goals and priorities. The end result is that this soft skill becomes a critical tool in your arsenal of productive daily activities.
The goal is to make you more productive while helping you be more mindful of where you spend your time. The goal is to allow you to dump the stuff you don’t need to deal with … or at least hand it off to someone else or push it off until a time when you can deal with it.
“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
― Henry David Thoreau
Take 5 — Five Minute Brain Dumps (5MBD’s)
I’m suggesting you do 5MBD’s twice a day. I typically do one first thing in the morning after looking at my calendar and again mid-afternoon. If you find a different rhythm or frequency works better for you … Adopt it and Repeat Often.
Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2. He is currently consulting with Microsoft and partners to drive Community Engagement and Alliances. Follow him on Twitter @jshuey or on LinkedIn: in/JeffShuey