Thursday, August 19, 2010

Take Action #4: Take A Brain Dump

Ok this may sound overwhelming, but it is actually quite releasing – meaning that once you do it, you will find it is such a relief – the stress, angst, chaos will just lift. I am talking about creating a Master TO-DO List.  I realize that just writing them down doesn’t make them go away, but it gets them out of your head, which is a start.

My favorite way to do this is to get those big poster sized post-it notes that you can put on the wall (they are the size of an easle pad). I will literally write down everything I can think of that is occupying space in my brain  For example: call the kid's doctor, schedule vet appoint, orthodontist appt, put money in lunch accounts, update notes in CRM, schedule meeting with boss, clean basement, work on photo albums, look up flights, You will find you keep adding things to it as you walk by each day.  Good!  Get it all out.  You will be amazed at how you feel afterwards.

If you are really organized you can create columns: Personal, Work, Household , etc. – this may help you focus on one area at a time. We do not realize how much energy it takes to keep all these little to-do’s in our head. Let’s use the household for example; you may want to put a deck on the house which is a great project assuming you have the time and the money. But it is difficult to focus on the deck when the things that occupy your brain are the “little things” like: fix screen door, fix dripping faucet, replace battery in smoke alarm, replace light bulbs in basement, paint the trim in the bedroom, etc. If you can “brain dump” all of these annoying little to-do’s, you will find that miraculously it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. You can start checking things off or crossing them out.

Having the big post-in on the wall does four things for me: 1) Because it is big and in my face, it reminds me to get it done. 2) It is also fun to cross tasks off with a big cross-out motion. 3) Another thing it does is let’s my family know about all the little crap that keeps me distracted. One time I had 2 full large-size posts-its filled with to-do’s. My kids kept walking by these big lists wondering what the heck was going on.  After a day or two, I told them that when they wonder why I forgot to sign a permission slip or ask them for the 3rd time where they are going that night, it is because I am processing all this information. 4) Finally, It also gives me an opportunity to say to my family: "If you can help me cross off some of these things on this master list, then that gives me more time and money to do stuff with you." My 16 year old son can fix a cabinet door. My 12 year old daughter can organize photos. My 19 year old daughter can take my 15 year old to the orthodontist.  What's amazing is they will go through the list and ask about things and how they can help.  You can use it as a negotiating tool.  i.e. I'm sorry son I would love to drop you off at the movies but I need to get at least 3 of those things on the list done.  Feel free to pick one.

This also helps your kids appreciate what it takes to run a household. I think we tend to keep everything stored in our head. So when we are agitated, stressed, running around like a crazed person and our family asks for help, we don’t even know where to start. We feel it would take longer to explain what we need than to do it ourselves. OR if you are like me, my mind thinks so fast that I sometimes can’t even get the words out to ask for what I need – it all comes out as gobbly gloop. Sometimes I get so frustrated that it seems like I forgot how to talk and my family just looks at me like I am an alien.

SO - for today Take Action by doing a massive Brain Dump. Buy a whole pad of those big sticky notes - you are going to need them again….

For some more ideas on how to get organzied with your to-do's - visit this blog and my friend Julie Hood's website Finally Organized

Good luck getting all those to-do's out of your head and onto paper.  Comment on this blog and let me know how you did!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Take Action #3: Make an Introduction

If you want to Take Action, then sometimes it starts with helping other people. Today your job is to connect one person with another. That’s it! IF you have done that today, then you have done more than most people.

So what could “connecting” mean? It could mean that you help a recent graduate by introducing them to a potential employer. It could mean connecting your friend with a babysitter. It could mean introducing your boss to someone who runs a non-profit.

You could also make an introduction on-line. If there is someone that you think would get great value from knowing someone else, hook them up on Facebook and LinkedIn. However, don’t just make the introduction, be sure to tell them WHY they should be connected. i.e. “Bob you need to meet Julie. She has been an awesome asset to our Board and you seem to have similar interests. Hope you two can connect.”

When you connect others, you are also getting your name in front of two people and “helping” others – which means doing something that is completely self-less. Now we all know that when we help others, it is likely that it will come back to us – which is in some ways self-serving – but if we are doing it out of a pure intention to connect two individuals, then we are changing the lives of others.

Other ideas:

• It’s back to school week – go introduce yourself to a new parent at school and then introduce them to another parent.

• Make an e-mail introduction to two people in your database who do not know each other but should.

• Suggest friends on Facebook to a FB newbie.

• Find someone in your LinkedIn network that is looking for a job and introduce them to an HR person in your network.

• Schedule a coffee with two people who do not know each other but would benefit from knowing each other.

All you have to do to TAKE ACTION (for today) is connect ONE person with another. Let me know who you connected and how it went by making a comment on this blog or e-mailing me or posting something on the Facebook Fan Page! I want to know that you are Taking Action!