The past few days, I’ve found myself feeling a little lost and unable to focus. I’ve gotten into a groove with my new job, even finding time to hang out with friends and getting in some (crazy fun pop dance) exercise.

I know I’m a little off – I’m just returning from a week hanging out at the lake my parents which slows life down with a lot of lovely simplicity.

But – I’m also finding myself checking Facebook obsessively. And playing crappy online games (please tell me I’m not the only one who gets obsessed with the sparkly gems of Bejeweled).

Tonight I found myself drawn to these distractions and tried to track what was happening just before I got the overwhelming desire to read every Facebook post from every one of my friends for the past 15 weeks.

It was a familiar problem. I’d thought of one thing I could do – I should call back that friend that called me earlier! And instead of just doing it, I got dumped with an avalanche of other things I should be doing. But! I need to return that other friend’s email! And! I really need to plan for my trip next week! But! What about those six appointments I’ve been avoiding making! Those must be done! Right! Now!

And that’s just in the first millisecond.

I know I’m not alone in this, where “do one thing” becomes “DO ALL THE THINGS!

I know that one thing that has helped in the past is a brain dump. I make a list of everything that occurs to me that I need to do. I write it down, one thing per line. There is no categorizing. There is no deciding if a task should be done now or next Tuesday. There is no judging about whether it’s really that urgent to inventory all the items that are currently being stored in my closet.

At least if I get all of the things on to paper, the yelling and screaming and jockeying for position that’s happening in my head simmers down a bit.

But I often resist the brain dump. It’s scary! There will be so much! And I’ll see how many things there are, and be completely defeated. There is not enough time! And I will fail!

Dynomite is seductively calling my name, just thinking about doing a brain dump. If I’m sure to fail, why bother doing it?

Until I remembered the sage advice of my friend Emily who is my personal organization savior. When I first balked at her suggestion of a brain dump, she counseled me, “How much you have to do is the EXACT SAME AMOUNT whether it’s held in your head or on a few sheets of paper. At least if it’s not stuck rolling around in your head, you’ll have a chance to use your newly freed up brain power for sorting out what can be done, delegated, or dropped.”

And I remember that she is right about this. My to do list does not magically become a longer list when I write it down. And the 27 things I wrote down tonight look possibly doable. Hey, I’ve already done 4 of them, about to be 5 when I press publish on this post. Not bad for a night that was about to be lost to the internet.

I might have to play a round of Tetris to celebrate.

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