10 Minute Tasks – a Way to Break Through Overwhelm Fog

List

Do you ever experience overwhelm fog – kind of like brain fog? I certainly do, especially at times when things are so uncertain, when it’s hard to plan, and when there are so many things to manage that are different from what we are used to.

You may have used a variety of systems to manage all the parts of your life – home, school, work, volunteer commitments, personal care and development, family obligations of all kinds. But things are so different these days and I, at least, am not finding the usual tools as helpful.

Perhaps when things settle down some, looking at options again can be helpful: ways that we can manage the details of life that are geared toward our own ways of thinking, organizing information and even our personalities.

Right now, I suggest starting with a short-term approach which can help with the tasks that really don’t take that long to do. Having a way to manage that seemingly unending volume of items, whether they are in the daily/weekly tasks that always need to be done or are steps to larger projects, can help clear the overwhelm fog AND provide a feeling of accomplishment.

I remember the idea of writing each of those smaller tasks on a small slip of paper and putting them in a large jar. Then, as you have time to do a simple item or two, you reach into the jar and grab one out and get it done. I always thought that was a pretty good idea, but never actually did it.

Here’s a similar approach that I recommend, using a “10 Minute Tasks” tool. This is shorthand for tasks that are quick to do, usually 10 minutes or less. If it takes more than 10 minutes but is still brief, it can be completed. Or if once you start, it is clear that for some reason it will take longer, you can consider putting it off to when you have more time. The idea is to accomplish those short tasks and check them off. It can be amazing the impact this has on the overwhelm fog.

You can try this out with a sample journal page, which you can download at the link below and copy as many pages as you wish.  You can also grab the list of 100 10 minute tasks to stimulate the creation of your own list.  Click here to get your samples:

10 Minute Tasks Sample Sheet

10 Minute Tasks List

 

Would you like the full set of pages to work with?  Email me at carol@carolbrusegar.com and request them. You can make multiple copies and use them as much as you would like.

 

Creatively Planning for a Season With Many Unknowns

Question Mark - PuzzleAs we move into the official summer months of 2020, our normal anticipation is drastically changed. Things that we typically spend time doing, whether for adults or children, may be cancelled or modified – or still have unknown status.  Plans we had made or things we anticipated doing are questionable or changed. Some things that are available may not feel safe yet. And things could revert back to more restrictions if the infection rates rise too much with re-opening. It’s very hard to plan right now.

This has at times paralyzed me – I don’t know how to look forward, even to the next 3 months. So I often go from day to day feeling numb. Have you had that experience?  What can we do?

Creativity in this situation is important and needed.  Yet we may feel as though we have used up a lot of our creative potential just getting through the past 3 months. Managing just the maintenance of daily life – especially if there are children in the household – has required lots of innovation.

How can we re-activate our creative juices as we edge into the summer months with few of the normal anchors and expectations?

I suggest mind mapping as a tool that can release creativity and engage the entire household. Mind mapping is a two-dimensional technique that uses imagery, drawings and color to help us tap into both sides of our brains. It is an alternative to the outline and list making techniques we often use. This powerful tool helps us visualize tasks or ideas, come up with new possibilities as we brainstorm, and organize our thoughts.

Mind Map

 

Basics of Mind Maps

Here are the steps to do simple, hand-drawn mind maps.

  • Gather plain paper, colored pencils, markers, or crayons.
  • Choose a topic you want to explore.
  • Draw a circle in the center of the paper and write in your topic in a word or phrase.
  • Draw lines out from the center where you write a few words, a symbol or drawing for each idea you have, and add sub-topics or related ideas in lines off these main points.

Include all the ideas no matter how absurd they may seem. Here’s where a new perspective or angle may reveal itself.

Make additional maps as off-shoots or expansions of your first map. You can expand, modify or discard ideas from the first map on the topic.

An Example of a Summer Mind Map

Start with the main topic of “Summer 2020” and think of several categories of things you want to be part of the season, like:

Accomplish 1 Big Goal, Have Fun/Recreation, Help Others, Explore, Read, Start a New Hobby

These are the spokes that come out from your main topic. Then add specific things that you want to do under each. For example, under Help Others, you might list Deliver flowers or a treat to a neighbor, Call an isolated relative weekly, etc.

Then start a new mind map for each subtopic, add the ideas as subtopics and think of how, when and who would be involved in each one. Here’s where you may weed out things you don’t want to do, and you can always add additional things that come to mind.

Mind maps become a planning tool that are good reminders of the larger picture and help keep track of details. Keeping your mind maps in a folder or binder is helpful.

This summer is going to be unusual and unique in so many ways. Your household can thrive in the midst of it with creativity and innovation. As things change, regroup with new mind maps. Flexibility and creativity are the keys to having an enjoyable season in the midst of the continual changes.

 

If you’d like to read more about mind-mapping, I have some previous blog posts here:

https://carolbrusegar.com/mind-mapping-enhances-innovative-thinking/

https://carolbrusegar.com/transforming-years-after-50-introducing-mind-mapping-multi-purpose-tool/

If you really want to learn about mind mapping from the originator of the technique, Tony Buzan published this just a couple of years ago. It’s a distillation of global research that has happened in the 5 decades since he first created this technique.

Mind Map Mastery: The Complete Guide to Learning and Using the Most Powerful Thinking Tool in the Universe 

Mind Map Book - Buzan

Can Reflection Help You Deal With Change?

changeWe are all in the midst of change these days, aren’t we? Change is tough for all of us to deal with, and for some especially hard. Sometimes, reflecting on our own experiences can be helpful when dealing with change.

Think about these questions. How do you typically deal with change in your life? Do you immediately dig in your heels to avoid moving in new directions? Are you cautious but open? Are you eager for anything new? Knowing how we generally operate can be helpful to you and to those around you during this time.

Change is to a large degree what we make of it, how we respond to it. If we choose to embrace it, we often find it works to our benefit. If we are highly resistant, we block ourselves from seeing and embracing the positives that the change may present.

How have you been responding to the restrictions placed on us by our covid-19 crisis?  And how are you looking toward the decisions about when you will resume some form of activities that were your “normal”? Your comfort level and convictions about what is best for others around you will influence your responses.

As we move deliberately from “stay at home” to less restrictive living, we will be making these decisions. They are significant steps that can have major implications. Sometimes it is okay to fight the change when something doesn’t seem right about it. It can take courage to be the one standing up for what you believe if others are rushing back into activities about which you have discomfort or fear.

If you are not doing so already, try journaling about these ideas and questions. It can be amazing what clarity you can have when you begin writing rather than just allowing things to swirl around in your head. You can download and print a journal designed for these times where you can reflect and record what these days have been and are for you and those close to you. You can print as many copies of each page as you can use. http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-Through-Crisis

Reading about others’ experiences during challenging times can be affirming and illuminating.  You can start with newspaper and magazine articles that are current. The experiences of medical workers, of those in prison or in specific geographic locations widen our perspective of what is happening.

In addition, reflections and reports of others who have lived through pandemics are available. The Flu Epidemic of 1918 is probably most like this situation; seek out and read more about that. Amazon has a wide variety of things to consider.  https://amzn.to/2ZCQ4By

The polio epidemic which began in 1949 is another occurrence to read about. https://amzn.to/2YsOEL1

Even if you aren’t a history buff like I am, I highly recommend that you gather some of these resources and share them with others.  You will gain new perspective on the present and what is to come.

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

~ Maya Angelou

 

Journaling Through Difficult Times-Get Your Free Downloadable Journal Now

journaling

You may be in one of these groups: a committed journaler, a dabbler (one who occasionally or sporadically journals), one who has sworn off such pursuits, or open to ideas about using a tool that is amazingly flexible.

Regardless of whether you can identify with one of those, or are in another place, I invite you now to seriously consider  journaling at this particular time in our lives. It can have immediate benefits like giving you more clarity as you reflect. It can also be therapeutic. Particularly in this quickly changing times, our heads are filled with so many thoughts, questions and feelings. Taking a little time to sit down and reflect on all that can be extremely helpful.

Many, if not all of us have elevated stress and anxiety as we try to figure out the logistics of the reality we have been forced into. Writing in a journal will help us figure out what some specific stressors are, what triggers the anxiety and think about how we can reduce and share them. We can also use a journal to consciously list what we are grateful for in the midst of all this.

Beyond these immediate benefits, our journals will be a great treasure as we look back years from now at our personal thoughts and experiences. These will also provide a window into what we went through for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in future years.

Will you join me in journaling from your personal viewpoint what this CoVid-19 virus pandemic means to you, how it is affecting your life, what thoughts you have? 

In a matter of a few weeks, our whole country and our individual lives have changed. How did the changes evolve for you? Starting now, we can look back on the last weeks and record how the reality began to enter into our consciousness and how it grew. We can reflect on how we perceived the process from that point to now. And from this point forward, we can record daily or near-daily experiences and reflections. At this point, we have no idea how long this will last and how things will change.

To facilitate this, I offer you a free downloadable and printable journal. You can print additional pages as you wish. I also invite you to join this Facebook Group:  http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-a-Tool-For-Life

In the journal, I provide some questions/prompts that can help you zero in on your experiences and questions.  So that it is most flexible, those questions/prompts will be in list form and you can write about whichever seems most useful on any given day. Or perhaps you just want to do daily reflections as you go along.

In the Facebook group, I hope that we can share some of what we are writing, inspire others to explore in additional ways, and support each other.

Here’s your link to the direct download: http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-Through-Crisis

 

 

 

Who Else Feels Life is Getting More and More Surreal?

Who Else Feels Life is Getting More and More Surreal?
surreal
Surreal: “resembling a dream; fantastic and incongruous”

Yes, that’s how I feel these days. Somehow just about everything is different. Is it real?? An 88 year-old friend says she’s never experienced anything like this. And that says a lot.

Whether it’s increased isolation of seniors living alone or in assisted living facilities or nursing homes, or students whose sports and musical competitions are being cancelled, or parents struggling to make arrangements for their children when schools close for periods of time, it hardly seems real.

As with so many things in life, balance is important. Neither listening constantly to media about the outbreak nor ignoring it entirely are advisable. Find and use a trusted source for information and advice. Many advise that our bottom line sources should be the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) or your state health department. If the media sources you are using don’t refer to those sources, check elsewhere.

Beyond the precautions being recommended, I suggest considering these additional things:

  • Establish some personal and/or household intentions about how you will come through this challenge. They may have to do with accomplishments, relationships among you and with others, future plans or other areas you may
  • Look at ways to make positive use of the restrictions. It is all too easy to slip into fear, anxiety, depression, or a combination of them all because of the changes. How can we use the additional time at home in ways that lift our spirits and other people’s spirits? This includes staying in contact and increasing contact through phone calls, cards, letters, online contact (Face Time, Skype, Facebook, etc.) with others who are feeling isolated and depressed. I think particularly of those older people at home alone or in nursing homes or care facilities.
  • Think of things you and others in your household enjoy doing or want to do at home but never seem to have time for. Reading, watching movies, listening to each others’ favorite music, playing board games and art/crafts are always good. How about setting up some challenges around these or other activities to provide something to work toward? This is a more positive way to think about this rather than just “filling time.”
  • Take on tasks and projects that have been put off over and over. These can become challenges to complete and see as accomplishments during this time. The obvious ones are cleaning out and arranging closets and garages. You may gather things to be given away to others or contributed to organizations helping those in need. It may be rearranging rooms or special cleaning projects. Writing and posting a list of the things you will do from the above suggestions where you can see it and check off accomplishments as well as add new ideas is useful.
  • Journaling during this time can be very helpful. Reflecting on our situation and how we handle it will both record these times for the future and help each of us work through our feelings, challenges and frustrations. Writing is so powerful; take time to do it yourself and encourage others to do the same.
  • Practice Hygge principles. Although Hygge is often connected with surviving winter in cold climates, the principles have to do with creating “a quality of coziness (= feeling warm, comfortable, and safe) that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family.” You can read more here: https://carolbrusegar.com/hygge-art-of-coziness/

By focusing on balance, positive use of time at home and reflecting on our experiences, all of us can make the best of a challenging situation. Everything we do to keep ourselves and others positive, hopeful and forward-looking will pay large dividends.

 

Journaling: Explore the Possibilities With My Free eCourse

prismAre you a journaling devotee, beginner, skeptic, or critic? Have you actually tried it or just been aware of it around you? What are your opinions about the practice?

I have come to see journaling something like a prism – a tool that can provide clarification by helping us focus on particular aspects of our lives. Depending on what we wish to look at, there are different styles and techniques to explore.

Journaling has been a way for people to express themselves for centuries. Its current popularity can be seen in a Google search for “journaling” that returned 47,300,000 results!! This clearly indicates that there a lot of people providing lots of information on this broad topic which has many subtopics and categories.

Perhaps you are wondering what all the fuss is about and would like an overview to see what the possibilities are for you. Or perhaps you have journaled and are interested in expanding your view of the varieties of journaling.

I invite you to sign up for my brand new free ecourse, “Journaling: a Prism to Clarify and Enhance All Aspects of Life.”  It is an overview that can give you some new options for using journaling. It includes some free sample journals to try.

Go here to sign up and you will receive it via email in 7 parts over 14 days. You will also have access to a Facebook group on the topic. http://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-prism-to-clarify-and-enhance-life/

Your first lesson will be available immediately upon signing up.

(I previously wrote about 4 major purposes to journal here: https://carolbrusegar.com/journaling-as-a-tool/  I talked about personal growth, self-discovery, gathering ideas and brainstorming solutions, and capturing life experiences. Journaling provides a great tool for these things.)

Tips For Reinvention From an Unusual Source

footprints

 

Reinventing or transforming life after age 50 is one of my passions.  I gained a helpful perspective from  an article written by one who has reinvented himself many times to the extreme. Reading about the range of major reinventions this author has made encourages me to think bigger about the possibilities for myself and others.  Jack Barsky has made transformations that very few make – or would want to make. But the principles are interesting.

You may have seen Barsky on 60 Minutes, CNN, Fox, or MSNBC or read his book, Deep Undercover. Barsky was born in Germany, was a chemistry professor for years, was recruited by the KGB, spent 10 years in the United States spying for the Russians during the Cold War, and ended up a United States citizen and information technology executive.

Based on the major shifts as well as a number of fictional characters he became in his travels, Barsky offers 9 Tips for Mastering the Art of Reinvention – behaviors we might adopt as we are reinventing ourselves at any stage of life.

Two that stand out for me are Take a Self Inventory and Work on Your Soft Skills.  Barsky’s recommended Self Inventory is to focus on talents and abilities you have, regardless of whether or not you have ever used them to earn a living. Often we fail to recognize the skills and abilities we have developed and used in volunteer work and other activities. These may be transferable or adaptable to various other settings.

Take 15 minutes or so to write down the things you have done outside your major work experience – side jobs, volunteer work, hobbies. Then list what you did and learned in them. You may be astounded at your list.

Working on Your Soft Skills is a logical next step to the Self Inventory.  Soft skills are defined as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.” The list of soft skills can vary; here is a representative one: effective communication skills, teamwork, dependability, adaptability, conflict resolution, flexibility, leadership, problem-solving, research, creativity, work ethic, integrity. We can demonstrate and develop these skills in all aspects of our lives. Take one of these and think of the ways you demonstrate it in work settings, volunteer work, family, friendship circles, etc. This exercise may broaden your perspective of skills you have and want to expand as well as ways to apply them in new ways as you reinvent your life.

Barsky wraps up his nine tips by stating “power is having options.”  This really summarizes his message: “Fulfillment … requires an attitude of life-long learning and a willingness to periodically shed the old skin and step into a new self.”

You can read the entire article here:

9 Tips for Mastering the Art of Reinvention

NOTE: You may find Barsky’s book Deep Uncover interesting. An Amazon review describes it this way: “Equal parts memoir, spycraft guide, and historical document, Deep Undercover perfectly describes the crippling insularity of the spy’s life.”  If you are interested in his book, you can find it here:

Deep Undercover

 

A New Decade — Opportunity for Perspective and Moving Forward Powerfully

2020 20302020 – we are leaving the 2010s and beginning the 2020s! What does that mean to you? Perhaps not much. A year is a year, you may think. However, you might consider this an opportunity to do some reflection backward and anticipation forward on a broader scale than one year. Another decade, another 10 years of life is ending; another decade is beginning. I find that these mileposts can provide valuable chances to celebrate, learn, focus and refocus.

Looking Back on the 2010s

For some of us, the decade ending has a particular meaning. For example for me, the beginning of March 2020, marks the completion of 10 years living in Nashville, Tennessee. I am taking the opportunity to reflect on that decade of living in a location I had never imagined as my home. What has that meant to me and what does it mean going forward?

Do you have aspects of your life that coincide with the years 2010 to 2020? They may not be as obvious as mine; see if you can identify any. For all of us, taking a longer view backwards can be beneficial. Try to take an aerial view. Perhaps it’s from a helicopter, or a hot air balloon, or on the wings of an eagle.

Grab a pen and paper and start jotting things you remember as you look back on those years from that higher perspective. You might do this by category: successes, disappointments, family highlights, family struggles, illuminations or learnings. Add categories that resonate with you. If you have things to reference that will jog your memory, use them. For example, every year during this decade, I have included a list of highlights of the past year in my Christmas cards and they are a great memory booster in this process. Do you have something like this? Perhaps you journal or keep planners and calendars from past years – they can provide memory jogs.

NOTE: you may write these things in lists and other linear modes or use visual tools like mind mapping. If you’d like more information, go to: https://carolbrusegar.com/mindmapping-multi-faceted-tool/

Once you have written as much as you can think of for now, spend some time reviewing it. Pull out particularly significant things and translate them into learnings that can inform your looking toward a new decade. For example, after six years in Nashville I intended to follow my family who had moved back to California. I am still here (for multiple reasons) and digging into why is an important part of my consideration of the past decade.

Looking Forward

Now shift your perspective toward the coming decade. This time we will start at the end of the decade – 2030 (YIKES) – and create a picture of what we would like to have as our reality at that point. Think about family, financial status, location, relationships, career/job/business/activities. Add any other categories you choose. Take some time with this.

After you have some things recorded that you are excited about, you can jump back into your helicopter, hot air balloon or onto the wings of the eagle. From that aerial view, start jotting down some milestones along the way between your desired 2030 reality and where you are now in 2020. Exactly the kinds of things you include is your choice. It might be intermediate steps toward the outcome, resources needed, things you need to learn, people to involve in various ways, etc.

What we are creating is a background for more specific planning. Are you getting excited? I hope so!

After you have gleaned useable information from the past decade and have a stimulating vision with milestones for the coming decade, it’s time to look at the new year of 2020 in that context.

What do you want to create and develop that will move you into the new decade with power? Again, use linear or more visual tools, depending on what is most useful and inspiring for you.

Look at what you have recorded. Think of a word or phrase that can be your Word for the Year to help keep you focused and on track for this fabulous year. If you have not used a Word for the Year tool, you can learn more about its value here: https://carolbrusegar.com/choose-your-word-for-the-year/

To fully benefit from use of this practice, grab a copy of the book here:  One Word That Will Change Your Life

Watch for specific planning resources in future posts.

Need More Clarity, Creativity and Focus?

woman writing in journal

Are you feeling some overwhelm during these unusual times? Many of us are.  In this this time of limitation and many unknowns,  you may want to consider a routine I found in this article: “This 10-Minute Routine Will Increase Your Clarity and Creativity”  It provides a way to both focus and to boost creativity.

The author Benjamin Hardy reminds us of Napoleon Hill’s words, “Your subconscious mind works continuously, while you are awake, and while you sleep.”  If that is the reality, it may be a really good idea to focus that work for our benefit.  How does that work? Hardy again quotes Hill: “The subconscious mind will translate into its physical equivalent, by the most direct and practical method available.”

Sounds like a good idea to me, then, to harness that power. Part of the routine described in the article has to do with using a few minutes before you go to bed and within 10 or so minutes of waking up to do the suggested activities.  For many of us, checking our electronic devices fill that space both before bed and first thing in the morning.  As we do that, we are focusing on input into our thoughts and consciousness.  This approach instead puts our attention to output from our subconscious to our conscious in a targeted way. It expands our creativity.

Try This Routine

To summarize the two parts of the routine, Hardy suggests we:

  1. “Take a few moments before you go to bed to meditate on and write down the things you’re trying to accomplish. Ask yourself loads of questions related to that thing….make some ‘requests.’ Write those questions and thoughts down on paper. The more specific the questions, the more clear will be your answers.
  2. “Now, first thing in the morning, when your creative brain is most attuned, after its subconscious workout while you slept, start writing down whatever comes to mind about those things.”

You can include any areas of your life – relationships, work, life balance, or anything else you want to address. Perhaps start with one topic. This approach is a routine and also a skill to develop and in which to become proficient. As with all routines or habits, it is a good idea to commit to practicing it for a minimum of 21 days in order to assess its effectiveness for you. I would love to hear how this works for you! 

For more details, you can read the entire article here:  “This 10-Minute Routine Will Increase Your Clarity and Creativity”

And you can see the books Benjamin Hardy has written here: Books by Benjamin Hardy, PhD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Celebrate Books for Opening Vistas

Reading Journal Cover

(Get your Reading Journal here: http://carolbrusegar.com/Reading Journal for Book Lovers)

I LOVE to read! Do you? Reading has always been a favorite pastime for me. As a child, I attended a rural one-room school and we had one large bookcase of books to read. What I remember best is reading each of the biographies – a series of books with orange covers. The stories of people in different situations and historical periods fascinated me. We also used the library in our nearby small town and I recall checking out books including Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and earlier the Flicka, Ricka and Dicka series. Do any of those ring a bell with you?

As I moved into high school and even more so in college and young adulthood, I read non-fiction almost exclusively. Books about current events, theology and history primarily. My interests went in those directions because I moved from living in small town/rural in southern Wisconsin into inner city communities in Chicago and Minneapolis – in the mid-1960s and beyond. With the great societal change occurring during those years, there was so much to learn about. My deep involvement in an inner city church and related social justice efforts led me to reading theology books. It wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that I began regularly reading fiction, especially historical fiction, along with an expanded variety of nonfiction books. I wish that I had written down what books I read over the years, but I didn’t. I do know that the reading I did shaped my understanding and the directions I went in my life in dramatic ways.

Have you kept lists? What kind of patterns, if any, do you see in your reading habits over the years? Can you see significance in those patterns?

Since finding Goodreads.com a few years ago, I have used it as an easy tool for recording the books I am reading. Using their Reading Challenge to set a goal for number of books I will read in a year has been both fun and motivating. Having access to reviews, ratings, suggestions a way to keep track of books I want to read is wonderful.

I still had a desire for a book in my hands where I can record other things. I wanted to identify books both that I have read and want to read by genre. And I wished to have in one volume notes, quotes and reflections on some books I especially value. This could be a reference and a treasure for me in the future.

So I designed a reading journal that met those criteria! If you see a value in such a tool and treasure, I invite you to check out my newly published Reading Journal – For Book Lovers Who Take Their Reading Seriously.
The link will take you to Amazon.com where you can read more and preview the journal.  It is a handy, portable 6″ x 9″ size.Reading Journal Cover

Happy Reading!!