Last week, I shared with you that the best ever solution to overwhelm is to write out a brain dump. Our minds were not created to hold all the important life details + reminders up in our heads, but instead, our brains are made to be a focusing tool to generate ideas, come up with creative solutions, problem solve and take action. To live a life of rest, our minds need to live free without keeping so many tabs open, because the brain thinks that if it isn’t written down, it has to remind you. All the time. Our mental energy gets overwhelmed and depleted.
We make a brain dump in a bullet journal/notebook. But what happens next? The brain dump must be reviewed. Daily and weekly. The habit of review keeps our action lists, plans, and projects in front of us. We must keep our notebook and calendar always open for quick and easy reference. The reason why our plans fail is that we don’t implement processes to support them!
We begin with the habit of checking our calendar in the mornings:
- We recognize our “musts” for the day which are appointments, teaching/homework, and preparing dinner. These are the non-negotiables.
- We plug in 1-2 things from our brain dump that are “next action steps”. In other words, if you wrote “buy school supplies” in your brain dump, the next action step is to print out your buying guide.
- Then we check to see if we have some “batch work” that we can fit into our existing day. Batch work are written tasks on a big Post-It or index card of to-dos that are the same. Phone calls, errands, online research, social media. Working in batches allows our brains to focus well on one task a time and makes us more efficient with our time and energy.
In the late afternoon or end of the day, do another review of your day:
- Finish checking off completed tasks, move tasks to the next day that you didn’t finish, and review the calendar for the next day to make sure you are prepared.
- Respond to any emails and texts that take less than 2 minutes.
- Choose more “next action steps” for the next day. Make sure that you are moving any appointments or to-dos that you received from emails or texts to your calendar!
Finally, you must schedule a Weekly Review.
I do mine on Sunday evenings. Late Friday afternoon or Saturday mornings would work well too. Treat yourself as the Mother Professional that you are, and make space for this planning time. There is no use in making great plans and creating a vision for your family if you aren’t going to implement processes that help you execute them! Tools like bullet journals/notebooks and daily planners are incredibly helpful because they help us visually execute the plan.
My weekly review takes place in my bedroom with the door shut. If you have many younger children who are needy, you may need to leave the house for an hour or two. It doesn’t take long:
- Check your calendar for the next two weeks and add events to your brain dump list.
- Figure out their next action steps and write them down on your “next actions list” that you can use during the week as a reference point for adding one-two items a day on your calendar.
- If there are things on your Brain Dump List that you don’t need to take action on anytime soon, move some of them to a “Someday/Maybe” list and refer to it once every few weeks to see if you want to take next actions on them.
- Take out Post-Its and write down batch work items on each one for phone calls, blog, errands, social media, etc.
The key to a fruitful week is to work your plan.
Bullet Journals/Notebooks and calendars aren’t meant to stay tidy, beautiful, and decorated. They are meant to serve you and your priorities. Write all over them! Enjoy them! Don’t allow perfectionistic tendencies to cause you to serve the tool by keeping it nice or not using it, but allow the tool to serve you.
Our priorities are lived out on the pages of our calendars. Where you actually spend your time and focus is where you spend your life and energy. Our goal as women is to live well so that we can love well. These are tools and actions that can help us live the way we want to and the way we are called to. We don’t grow in our ability to manage our lives to be show-offs or feel amazing about productivity or gain identity from our accomplishments, but we grow in these areas so that we can love and serve better, with peace and greater rest + freedom.
(This was a synopsis of the Facebook Live that I did today of Dealing with the Brain Dump: The Daily/Weekly Review. So hop on over to listen if you would like to hear more details and see my bullet journal, files, and ask questions!)