The Power of Lists to Free Your Mind

Early in my career I prided myself on remembering pretty much all the things I had to get done in my head. I had notebooks, but notes were unstructured and scatty. Instead I would hold my to-do items in a sort of mental suspension until I was ready to tackle one.

This was probably fine for a younger mind — although I’d advise my younger self differently. As I got older and responsibilities grew across career and life, so did the potential to be overwhelmed. To-dos were always in danger of being missed, dropped or forgotten.

I also found over time that this approach was beginning to impact my focus on the current task in hand. I had this fear that while I worked on, or committed to, one item I would not get to, or forget, another.

I needed a better system. Then I read The Organised Mind by Daniel Levitin…

“when we have something on our minds that is important — especially a To-Do item — we’re afraid we will forget it, so our brain rehearses it, tossing it around in circles in something that cognitive psychologists actually refer to as the rehearsal loop … keeping items in rehearsal until we attend to them. Writing them down gives both implicit and explicit permission to the rehearsal loop to let them go, to relax its neural circuits so that we can focus on something else”

-Daniel Levitin

This immediately resonated with me.

This book made me realise how unreliable memory can be and the impact of a distracted mind.

Write it Down

Before I had never understood the true value of a list. Making a list of everything on my mind, helped me to focus on the task in hand. If something else popped into my head, I’d write it down. I still do to this day.

Free Your Mind

We can all harness the power of lists to help us feel more relaxed and better able to focus on our work.

Using a Bullet Journal, I’ve since found the perfect system for creating and managing my to-do lists. But that’s an essay for another day.

This post was created with Typeshare



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Paul Gillen

Paul Gillen

Creating Moments People Connect With // Brand & UX Designer | Communications & Community Manager | Digital Artist | Remote Work Advocate | Writer