“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” —  Lao Tzu


Ironic that the above quote showed up in my Inbox this morning from Oprah after yesterday’s post. How is it that I wake up each morning with an ongoing list scrolling through my brain, and the impending thought, “How am I going to get it all done?” when yesterday I did nothing but check things off on that same list that seems to grow longer in my sleep.

It’s always something isn’t it? But thanks to today’s Thought for the Day Newsletter courtesy of Oprah and O Magazine, I now have the answer to that dreaded How? question. I think.

Topics for today included:

I was instantly drawn to the first article as my brain was not particularly motivated to do anything today. Maybe it was due to the 9-degree temperatures screaming, “Stay inside!” from the digital thermometer, or perhaps Murphy’s early morning nap in the living room that seemed all too inviting zapped the motivation right out of me. Or maybe I was just being lazy this morning, but I thought, “What the heck. I’ve got time. Why not train my brain this morning?” And with one quick click of my computer touchpad, I was on my way.
Jackpot! The brief “training session” didn’t even make up an entire page of text. Awesome! I’d be able to train my brain, take a shower, maybe even write this post, all before 10:30 a.m. The brief “tutorial” consisted of 3 tips from Paul Hammerness, one of the authors (along with Margaret Moore) of Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life: Train Your Brain to Get More Done in Less Time:
1. Tap Into Your Logical Side.
2. Flex Your Memory Muscles.
3. Give Yourself A Break.
My eyes immediately jumped to #3. Anything promoting taking a break was definitely worth reading, if only to give myself permission to continue procrastinating on tasks. I have seem to have mastered that skill quite nicely, if I do say so myself. OK, Hammerness wasn’t exactly promoting sitting on my rear end and doing nothing all day, but he does suggest giving your mind breaks every hour or so, because your mind can only focus on a particular task for 60 minutes at a time. And here I was, as a result of my inability to stay focused on tasks for long periods of time, ready to take some credit for my son’s ADHD. Sorry Mark! I guess that’s still on you. 🙂  Anyway, by taking breaks, Hammerness says, you reset your brain. It pumps you back up apparently, and gets you ready to continue on with your next task, or return back to the task at hand. I get it, but I’m still looking for that tip that tells me how to limit that break time. When I break, because I work from home, I tend to look around and see all that needs to be done, and begin doing it — laundry, thank-yous, emails, dinner. Ahh, my favorite pastime: procrastinating.
That’s where I’m guessing #1 and #2 come in. Apparently my mental scroll each morning can work at keeping me organized and motivated, according to Hammerness. By creating this mental to-do list each morning I am Flexing my Memory Muscles, and I should complete this task regularly throughout the day in order to keep stimulating the “working memory” part of my brain, thus staying focused, motivated, and completing more work. Yay!!!!
But keeping that mental list in my mind in its entirety is difficult. I forget, A LOT, nowadays if I don’t have that list written down and visual! I have always been more of a visual learner, so having a concrete list in paper form (sometimes) works better for me than just thinking about it. And ‘lo and behold, that taps into Hammerness’ suggestions for Training Your Brain addressed in tip #1: Tap into your logical side by looking over spreadsheets, filling out expense reports, and for me, that means making lots of lists. Apparently that will get me thinking more logically and working more efficiently.
So, I’m off to add more items to today’s list, and work on completing tasks much more efficiently. That means taking that shower! (I know it doesn’t seem like a difficult thing to do, but I often lose track of time and go without if it’s not on my list). Then I’m going to head to an appointment, buy some groceries for dinner, and then tackle another topic on Oprah’s list: 10 habits of highly organized people.
It seems to me I’ve begin to find the answers to How? Now if I can just find the answer to that dreaded Why? question I keep asking in several posts, life would be good!
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