Get Things Out of Your Head

You know the feeling… you’re thinking about so many things, they’re swirling around in your head, you just can’t concentrate.

The simplest solution to this is to just write them down. I know you’ve probably heard this advice many times, but maybe this time it’ll click 🙂

Take five minutes and with a pad and pen, just write. Don’t censure your words, just write. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling, just write.

Write until your mind feels free again.

I did this exercise a few days ago. I was trying to concentrate on reading a full-on book that required total concentration. Complex concepts and all that.

As it was one of my tasks for the day (see What Three Things Will You Decide To Do Today?), I didn’t want to stop or go off on a tangent, so I got out my exercise book and wrote for about 10 minutes straight. There were so many ideas and tasks swirling around in my head. People I had to remember to talk to about a task, ideas for articles to write, rsvps for invitations I’d received that morning. All sorts of different, random things.

A lot of it good and worthy things that I needed to do or think about eventually, but not right then.

As I was reading, I noticed that I’d get through a sentence or two before my eyes unfocussed and I had to fight to keep reading. The worst part was that I was really interested in the content, but it was such a struggle.

My mind felt like I was swimming in murky water. Everything was cloudy. It was like I had the flu or something!

When I started writing, the words just flowed like I’d turned on a tap. Whatever was in my mind, I wrote. I didn’t stop until I was satisfied it was all on the paper.

If you’ve seen or read Harry Potter, it was like the scenes where Dumbledore pulled his dreams out of his brain with his wand and put them in the water so he could see them better.

After I wrote several pages of what was firing off in my brain, I felt so much better. I was surprised at how much freer and clean my mind felt. It was a similar feeling to when you clear out all the junk in a room, leaving only the essentials. There’s just so much space. I also felt a lot lighter.

Well that made it super easy to concentrate again!

I’d cleared out the stuff that was filling my mind. Which left me free to fill it with all the new concepts I was learning by reading that book.

What had been a struggle was all of a sudden extremely easy and enjoyable.

I recommend writing this with a pen and paper, rather than typing it into a computer (or iphone/ipad, etc). There’s something extremely powerful about writing and the ink flowing onto the paper. I’ve tried typing the distractions before, but every time it still feels like the thoughts are stuck in my brain. It’s like I’ve only taken a copy of the thoughts, rather than “put them down onto paper” and out of my brain.

Next time you find yourself continuously distracted when you want to concentrate, maybe reach for the pen and paper and try this.

What Three Things Will You Decide To Do Today?

4 thoughts on “Get Things Out of Your Head”

  1. Fabulous! Guess I should use the pad and pen sitting on my bedside drawer when I can’t sleep 🙂
    I’m the same – i find that typing the thoughts onto the computer doesn’t work as well as actually writing them out by hand.

  2. Sounds like a One Minute Tip x 5.

    Good post, Mike. Sometimes, we need to do more than just make a quick note, to jog our memory for later.

    If you have good information in your mind but are working on something else that needs real concentration, then put it in writing.

    Not only do you clear your mind for the job at hand, you also retain the critical information you will need for the other tasks later.

  3. Good advice 🙂 any advice for when you are writing down everything that’s in your head and you can’t stop cos you’re trying to figure it all out?? and its been like.. 2 hours ? and you CAN’T concentrate on anything else til you figure it out! thats my problem!!

    1. Thanks Jess. Do you mean you’re trying to figure out what’s in your head? If you’re getting a block, I’ve found having a shower, sitting quietly in a darkened room, or going for a walk all help me clear my head and figure out what it is that’s bugging me.

      Alternatively, try speaking your mind into a voice recorder (the iphone has one natively). It might feel silly at first, but the main point is to let the ideas flow and not question them til later.

      After you’ve got everything out, then you can figure out what it all means to you.

      Hope that helps 🙂

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