If you are anything like me, then you probably have about a hundred different thoughts in your head at any point wrestling to become the primary one. You also know the feeling of the pang of adrenalin when we remember something we have to do/have forgotten to do/are worried to forget to do.
I’m constantly worrying about remembering everything I might have forgotten. It’s very time and energy-consuming.
My solution has always been lists. Long lists, color-coordinated lists, subject-specific lists, lists in my bullet journal, list on notepads and list-apps in my phone.
It does work and lists do give me a bit of structure, so I don’t have to feel like I’m constantly juggling too many balls mentally. But I still do have to remember to look at all my lists and actually do the stuff I put on them.
Lists are good, but they still leave me with a brain filled with imaginary post-it notes.
Then a very successful friend loaned me a book that gave me a new method and clarity to my thinking. Actually, it wasn’t the actual book that changed me, even though it was a great read. But in the margin, somewhere in the middle, my friend had written “closing circles”. The book was about efficiency, so it kind of fits the subject. And it made me think.
One of the reasons why it feels overwhelming to remember all these things constantly is because we are a bit like computers with too many windows open. Our whole to-do list is always there, open to us, stealing our energy in the background.
When we add our tasks to a list we might close the window for a while. But we still have to come back to open it up and finish it later.
So lately I have changed my way of structuring what I need to do and how I do it.
I stopped addressing my lists in order. Instead, I start every day by skimming what I need to do and what circles I can close with the least possible effort. So that they won’t be hanging around in the back of my head stealing my precious brainpower.
Small tasks like calling someone, do the last step of a bigger job or send a message or an email is quick and easy. These circles can be closed with minimal effort.
And then I can focus my mind on the bigger things that really need my undivided attention after.
The brain will see one task as equal to another. No matter if it’s a big task like doing our taxes or a smaller one like sending a happy birthday message to a friend. If I start my day by quickly running through all the smaller tasks. Then my brain will be a lot more peaceful and able to focus on the big stuff later.
I personally also feel that if I get a few small bits done and dusted early in my day. Then it makes me feel more efficient and the rest of the tasks seems easier somehow. I’m already in the flow of things when I get to them.
This method of closing circles has made me a lot more focused and efficient. It really seems to be compatible with my kind of brain. I also think it’s one of the main reasons why my stomach ulcer is feeling a lot better these days. I just don’t have the same kind of mental stress and pressure anymore.
So if you feel like you have a bit too much on your mind and don’t really know where to start – try to think “closing circles” and see if it helps.
Photo – Ida Zander. Location – Maitre choux Kings Road