Sometimes I wonder why I don’t have a strong personality. You know how it feels when you look at certain people and know they mean business! I wondered why I couldn’t be like them. It then dawned on me that I’m flexible and adapt to situations at ease and that’s probably my personality. It works well for me. I can switch effortlessly between fussing about getting work done to knowing when to let go and enjoy the moment. I understand when to stick to productive techniques and when to indulge in endless hours of entertainment. But this comes with its own setbacks. There are phases between the transition when you feel guilty of choosing either side. You suddenly realize that there are more things to be done than the time you have at your disposal and feel anxious about every single thing. Damn!
The other day, I got back home after a lovely weekend getaway. We spent most of our weekend in Hunter Valley and got back late on Sunday evening. I decided to complete only the essential chores and leave the rest for later. I was tired and didn’t want to be stubborn and tire myself more by clinging to my list. I also wanted to ensure a good night’s sleep before the work week. The minute I hit the bed and closed my eyes, my mind decided to remind me about all those tasks I’d left for later. All those tasks that I had planned to do the following week and month, and all those goals I had in mind for the year and all those ambitions flooded my mind. It went on and on. I knew I had to do something before all traces of sleep vanished.
I had an idea. I decided to do the one thing that I’m good at – making lists.
I took my notepad and wrote down whatever was on my mind. I was surprised at the clarity at 12 am. It took me a few minutes to realize that the things I wrote were not only about the mundane weekend chores but everything I’ve been meaning to do but didn’t. I wrote things like speak to friend X, Complete the course in Udemy, Find the best treatment for nail growth and so forth. The most random things, but the ones which crossed my mind at some point. I always believe in writing things down – to avoid stressing the brain. I write down things to do, grocery lists, expenses (I have a template for these), places to visit, places to eat, new dishes to try, and so on. Despite writing most of them, I realized there was one category I never accounted for – The Miscellaneous ones. And this perhaps occupied a fair share of my mind. If those miscellaneous thoughts could speak, they would complain about how they’ve been merely thoughts for so long that they have almost been forgotten. So, the minute they found an opportunity that they were being taken seriously (when I started writing), they couldn’t resist pouring their hearts out. And out they came from their comatose, and boy were they lively!
The outcome of this exercise was strange. I felt peaceful. It was as if I had held all those thoughts captive and then liberated them one fine day. I thought I would end up worried about the insane list I had in front of me. But it looked like I had taken a step in the right direction – getting them off my mind and into something more concrete. I then organized them into things I could do immediately, things I’d need to plan, and things beyond my scope. I always work with the process of elimination. It helps me focus on what matters to me without diverting my attention.
Once I went through all those tasks plaguing my mind, they did not overwhelm me as they usually did. I made a list of all the one-time activities, the activities that would need to be repeated over a period of time, the ones that would need extensive planning before it can be acted on. Once I organized the complicated mess and clearly wrote them down, I knew there was nothing to worry about. I even enjoyed untangling the complexities and stripping the tasks down to the bare minimum. This was not just an illusion but definitely, a confirmation that I had them under control. Now I could sleep in peace.
I find many people worrying about too many things at the same time. I wouldn’t tell them not to worry, coz I’ve been there myself and know how bad it feels. But I do have a solution that would help them deal with their problems/thoughts. I would suggest the same activity I did – to write down every single thing bothering them and then tackle them one by one. Things might not always take care of themselves, it needs our intervention to get seek order amidst chaos. Once you write them down, you will realize that they aren’t as bad as you’d imagined them to be. Even the most complicated equations in maths had the simplest solution once you start working your way towards them. It all begins with a simple step.
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