Ten minutes on the clock flies by like nothing, but it can be a valuable piece of time when you’re looking to get yourself organized. Ten minutes before you need to leave to pick up your kid? Ten minutes before your next Zoom meeting? Ten minutes sitting in the waiting room waiting for your doctor’s appointment? The temptation is to scroll through social media, or watch the last ten minutes of a sitcom rerun on TV, or check email one last time. Why? Because your brain is overwhelmed with everything you have to do and it’s just too much to think about accomplishing anything productive, and what difference will ten minutes make anyway?
One of the best and most effective time management tips I’ve ever encountered comes from David Allen, in his book Getting Things Done. He calls it a “brain dump.” When your head is swimming with all of the things you need to get done, all of the tasks on your to-do list, and you can’t even begin to know where to start, try doing a massive brain dump. Sit down and write all of those “to-do’s” down on paper. ALL of it. Every last thing. Get it all out of your head! It’s something that can be accomplished in ten minutes, and it’s one of the best organizing tools I’ve ever found. Why? Because it helps to eliminate that feeling of overwhelm. That feeling of “what am I forgetting?” That feeling of psychic heaviness that sits at the back of your brain when you have so much to do and you just don’t know where to begin to tackle all of it. When you’re feeling that way, taking just TEN minutes to get it all out of your head and down onto paper (or typing it all into your laptop) can help lower your stress level and help you regain control of your time. Getting as much as possible out of your brain and into some physical form is incredibly freeing. When you’re done, you know exactly what you have to do. It may not be pretty, but it’s real. Taking another few extra minutes and prioritizing that brain dump, then tacking on a time estimate for each item gives you a better idea of how long all of it will take. It may make you aware of the fact that it will take far more time than you realistically have. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Getting a good grip on exactly what you have to do and when you have to do it is the first step towards managing your time efficiently. It will force you to evaluate what your priorities are and on what you should be spending your time. That’s something of which we all need to be aware if we’re at all concerned about our productivity.
Ten minutes to clarity. That’s the first step towards an organized life.