“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything.”
– Shunryu Suzuki
I first read this quote in The Art of Getting Things Done, by David Allen. This concept suggests that you can get your mind into a productive state by eliminating the things that cause you to overreact or under-react. Allen uses examples that we can all relate to such as: responding inappropriately to email, your staff, your projects, your unread magazines, what you “think” you should do or not do.
We react and give more time to things than they deserve because we’re not operating with a “mind like water.’
We can create this state-of-mind by thinking about a time when you were in your “groove.” You were in control and not stressed out and before you knew it, hours had passed, You crossed most off your to do list and it was only lunchtime. On the flip-side, we’re also very familiar with days that are the opposite — we feel totally scattered, and out of control. It’s like a vicious cycle which tends to make us feel even more scattered and out of control. In these moments when we think there’s nothing we can do, we actually have a choice. We can gain back control and find this “mind like water” mind state.
Our minds can be compared to a lake: when the water is rough, you can’t see to the bottom, but once the surface becomes calm, all the sediment and sand settles and you can see clear to the bottom.
David Allen states that the most stress we experience comes from inappropriately managed commitments that we make. He calls these “incompletes” or “open loops.” They pull your attention to places it should not go. These are those random things that are floating around in our minds that distract us because there are just “there.” These little thoughts and To Do’s range from really small to big things, and they need to be placed somewhere.
Create a Brain Dump
This is a way to organize your random ideas all in one place for sorting later. I call this a “Brain Dump.” I do not differentiate between work and personal. I use Evernote to do this and it is the best thing since sliced bread in my opinion. This is a free app that you can use on any digital device, so if I’m out on my morning run, I can record an audio snippet, place it in my Brain Dump folder, and get back to the business at hand. Then, when I sit down at the computer to organize my day, I can review my notes and recordings.
We are all busy and we live in an increasingly noisy and busy world. Utilizing strategies to help clear or mind and cultivate space and create this “mind like water” is essential for getting what matters the most done.
By finding a “bucket” for all this”stuff”can help you clear out out the clutter in your brain. Using this one little strategy has revolutionized the way I organize my life, and it may help you too to help arrange and plan your day in order to create a little more peace and clarity.
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