Take a minute to unload

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Ever been working on a project, but had trouble focusing because other things kept popping into your mind?

  • What should I make for that potluck on Sunday?
  • Don’t I have a dentist appointment sometime next week?
  • Looks like it might rain tomorrow.  Got to mow the grass when I get home tonight.

This is a form of multitasking, but it’s comprised of one main task being interrupted by reminders of tasks that you can’t actually work on.

There’s a very simple technique that I use to lighten the mental load and get back to what I’m supposed to be working on:  I send a one-sentence message from my work e‑mail to my home e‑mail.  “Buy cocoa and make brownies for Sunday.”  “Check dentist appointment and reschedule if necessary.”   “Cut grass after work.”  It takes seconds, and then the intruding thought is gone.  Gone, but not forgotten.  There’s now a written record, something that can be researched, scheduled, done on my own time.

No computer access?  No problem.  Scribble a note on a scrap of paper, such as the back of a receipt, and stuff it into your pocket until you get home.

Whatever system of unloading ideas that you use, the few seconds you invest will save time and effort by quieting the churn in your mind, allowing you to work more productively.




  1. I wonder if your nifty way(s) to lighten the load would also work for people who typically have trouble sleeping because they have too many things going on in their minds? I realize they may not want to jump on their computers before bed, but I think jotting down those thoughts on a slip of paper might be very helpful.

    When I do it, only a key word is necessary. Oh, and by the way, I don’t have trouble sleeping, and that’s because I use nifty ideas to take a load off, not put one on. After all, we were put here to cross mountains, not carry them!


    1. Excellent question, Sparkyjen. I’ve had delayed-onset insomnia since I was about five years old, and a flurry of ideas sometimes does keeps me awake. It isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be, probably because I have fewer loose threads dangling at the end of the day, but when there’s an upcoming event I can get caught up in over-planning it in fine detail.

      Maybe I’ll put a notebook beside the bed and just do a brain dump of everything that’s on my mind, and see if that makes it easier to let go and leave things for another day.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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