What Do Your Closet and Your Mind Have in Common?
BY Marla Tabaka
Written on Sunday morning:
This morning I stepped into my closet and realized, "Oh-oh, it's gotten messy again." The last few weeks have been incredibly busy for me so laundry has been ignored and clothes and shoes are strewn in a disorderly fashion over the bars - sans the hangers. Now I know what I'm doing on this Sunday afternoon!
As I stepped back after previewing the cleaning job that lies ahead, I realized that the closet holds a close similarity to the way my mind has been feeling lately. Cluttered and disorganized. I've recently begun a very exciting opportunity hosting my own show on Toginet radio, along with marketing my next coaching group, developing an affiliate program, and several other time-consuming projects. The ideas have been flowing — and so has the work - so my brain has been on overdrive. Whew! It's time to de-clutter the closet and the mind!
It was fun to recognize that my messy closet represented something far more important than dirty laundry. Also, very interesting to realize how my outer world struck such a similarity to my state of mind. The closet is an easy, rather mindless project to tackle, but how to iron out the fabric of many creative processes moving about in my mind? With new projects and opportunities, balancing routine business and responsibilities, along with the personal life, can become overwhelming. If we don't take the time to organize our thoughts, projects, and time, life can become one big messy closet!
Today's awareness helped me realize that, while I have my projects well organized, I haven't been following my regular practice of mind mapping and list making to allow my mind to release the big picture ideas associated with each of the projects. If we allow our thoughts, ideas, and challenges to pile up in our minds it leads to a sense of overwhelm and frustration. My closet reminded me that I may be well on my way to experiencing those burdensome emotions. So, I will declutter my mind today as well!
Here are a few ways I do that. I'd like to hear how you release your creative thoughts, ideas, and challenges so that your brain can function freely and keep your life in balance!
List making — I have a "master to-do" list and I update it daily. My projects and routine tasks are broken into categories with a list of action steps following each one. The more urgent steps are highlighted in red. I carry this list with me everywhere I go!
Mindmapping — This can be done on your computer or on paper. I like to connect my free-flowing ideas on an oversized piece of paper. Seeing how they connect to one another and feed off of one-another is stimulating and productive. I begin with my main focus written in the middle of the paper and surround it with ideas and steps, drawing lines to connect the related items. I love doing this because it incorporates right brain and left brain thinking so well.
Sticky Note Idea Building — This is another good brainstorming activity. I like to write my ideas on sticky notes and put them on a big empty wall. I then move the notes around to see how they relate to and feed into one another. As I work through the process, some get discarded, and new thoughts continue to flow.
Journaling — Stream of consciousness writing (writing without editing your thoughts) is a great way to expand on an idea or work through a challenge. Just allow whatever comes into your mind to flow freely through your hands onto paper or a computer document. You may be amazed at the solutions and ideas born of this exercise.
Brainstorming Sessions — When many ideas are floating about our brain expressing them verbally often solidifies the idea, bringing it to life. It's also a great way to get grounded. Sometimes we may think we have a very achievable concept and our friends and peers can help us recognize the challenges and complications. The opposite is true as well. We may not be able to step back far enough when we are excited about an idea and expanding upon it may be difficult. Brainstorming is a wonderful way to achieve this.
Organization Charts — I like to organize my ideas and projects by category. It really helps me to stay focused on the things that will fit into my big picture vision and mission. The to-do list is one way of doing this, but I like to draw charts on my oversized paper (or you could use a white board). I create a piece of paper for each aspect of my business and put all of the pending projects on the appropriate page. I tack these onto a wall and take a step back to see how they all connect. As I study the picture I sometimes notice discrepancies or areas that I'm creating redundancies. This has saved me many a headache!
It looks like I have a busy, but fun day ahead. I know there are more ideas and solutions out there — let's hear them!
Tuesday updates: Yes, the closet has been restored to its organized state and my state of mind is also much improved! Ah, the comfort of an allowing, peaceful state of mind....
Last updated: Jan 31, 2010
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka