Why is it then...
I’m a big thinker. I like ideas, coming up with new projects, and playing around with visions of future states. I’m not scared of change. But sometimes I get so caught up in my ideas and thoughts that they become a big swirling mess of fragmented images, words and feelings that I start to lose the thread.
Recently, I began to fall back on bad habits – letting those ideas and emotions sweep me away. I would get frustrated and overwhelmed, unable to track where my thoughts were leading me and why I may or may not want to follow them. But then, like a mild slap to the forehead, I realized I was missing an important link. I had been missing one of my true and trusted strategies of getting things down on paper.
As soon as I went back to the “drawing board,” my ideas began to come into focus. I could pick up themes that showed up in my journal, my plans, vision boards or idea webs. Almost immediately I began to feel more grounded, like the process of unwinding my thoughts and putting them on paper (or into my spreadsheets) weighed me back down. Granted, there is always something freeing about being up in my head, but the constant spinning wheels and ambivalence eventually becomes weary. There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with getting organized. It’s like spring cleaning – clearing out the cobwebs, getting behind the couch… Once you get the clutter out of the way, your thoughts can grow deeper and more meaningful. The colors of your ideas get richer.
I like to keep my share of lists and spreadsheets to help me keep organized, but I also like to explore the creative elements of mind mapping on big sheets of paper, or sketching out brainstorms before I put my ideas onto paper. As time allows, I journal my reflections of past, present and future fears and dreams. But I’ve also learned over time that while these different tools help me feel more grounded, I have to also balance my expectations about how frequently I rely on them. Depending on what is going on in my life, I may take out the spreadsheets more frequently and the journaling falls to the wayside. If I need time to piece together or test out my feelings, I may journal or use other creative tools. If I try to do everything all the time (as with anything), I simply get frustrated or feel guilty when I don’t get to one of them. They are tools available to be when I need them, but I can’t let myself feel burdened by them.
So if you were to come to my house, you would find a stock pile of journals, notebooks, scraps of paper, flip chart paper, and lots of pens and markers. They’re all handy for when I need or want them. For instance, as I was writing this I realized that I needed to complete a few other tasks today. Those got jotted down on a neon green post-it that will soon get transferred to my to-do app on my phone.
Think about what might work for you. Are you a creative, free spirit? Mind mapping, drawing, or vision boards might be your style. Are you more analytical? Do you like tracking progress and deadlines? There are a ton of great tools out there for you. Or are you like me and somewhere in the middle? I enjoy having a diverse set of tools at my fingertips. What do you like to use?