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                   October Organizing Tips

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                             Training Your Brain


October 13th is National Train Your Brain Day. For those of us with an overactive brain, we might have so much swirling around in there that our minds can’t sort through the clutter. Doing a regular brain dump of all the tasks and to-dos is critical to free up your mind for other more important functions. In order for a mind purge to be effective, you have to have access to a note-taking system at all times. If you’ve got a smartphone, the easiest way to do this is by installing a notes app because you’ll almost always have your phone handy during the day. If you’re more of a paper person, make sure to keep 3 x 3 post-it notepads in all your tote bags and purses as well as in the bathroom and kitchen at home. For middle-of the night awakenings, I’ve found it very helpful to keep a 3 x 3 post-it pad and pen by my bed to jot down those items that threaten to keep me awake. 

Just keeping track of those tasks can be a problem in itself though. So if you’re going to record your to-do’s in random places and on random papers, make sure you have a central collection spot to place all the scribbled lists. Then once a week you need to get them into a more formal system. More on that later. If you’re an electronic list maker, there are some great apps you can utilize to organize your tasks. One is Evernote, which allows you to access the list from any device. If you primarily prefer to keep lists on your phone, Any List and Wunderlist are two great options. 

Whether you have paper or electronic lists, organize them into a “snacks and meals” system. Snacks are to-do’s you can tackle within a half hour or less while meals often are multi-step or time-intensive tasks. Have two lists going on your phone app with these titles, or paper lovers can use an empty file folder opened up, with snacks written at the top of one side and meals written at the top of the other side. Then you can just stick the post-its on the appropriate side of the folder and easily toss them when you’ve finished something. Then, set aside a couple hours a week to scratch off your snacks, and schedule one weekend day a month to tackle the meals on your list. That way you don’t feel like you’re sacrificing too much valuable free time, but you’re still systematically making progress. 

If you find that you’re never getting to certain items on the list, ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that would happen if I don’t do this?” If you can live with the consequences, yank it. Seriously, you need to be brutal here! If you can’t let it go then you’ll need to consider a different strategy. One idea I read about suggests adding a few additional components to your to-dos that identify what are the obstacles and extra steps needed to accomplish it. Here is an example:

TO DO: Buy curtains for kitchen
OBSTACLE: Don't know what size to buy
WHAT I NEED TO DO: Measure window
ITEMS NEEDED: Measuring tape


To wrap up the topic, here’s a bit of inspiration to get you moving on your path. If you’re a fan of Winnie the Pooh like I am, the author A.A. Milne has a wonderful quote: You’re Braver Than You Believe, Stronger Than You Seem, and Smarter Than You Think!