The other day, I was feeling a little down, disorganized and overwhelmed by the projects on my plate, so I comandeered a big table at home, cleared it off, grabbed my biggest sketch pad and a pencil, and started putting everything down on paper.
By the end of it, Iâ€™d covered two 11â€ x 14â€ pages with mind maps and circled words and phrases with dozens of connections.
I also came up with a new productivity exercise (new to me) involving lists.
Now, you know I love me some lists.
I call this one, “Facts Versus How I Feel,â€ and itâ€™s been very helpful for me. I hope you find it helpful, too.
Howâ€™d it come to pass?
I cannot recommend mind maps enough. I think theyâ€™re a great exercise when youâ€™re faced with a challenging or difficult decision, or when youâ€™re just completely overwhelmed.
I sat at that kitchen table for two hours, brainstorming and jotting down my thoughts, including everything I wanted to accomplish this month and over the first half of next year.
Long-term planning is not one of my strengths, but Iâ€™m hopeful that things like this will help me improve.
Anyway, one thing I realized over the course of that epic brainstorming session was how my emotions tend to color the way I perceive different tasks and situations.
What are we really talking about here?
Big surprise, but I’m kind of an artsy-fartsy person who likes to talk about her feelings.
I’m also very emotional, which can be a source of strength, but sometimes itâ€™s also an obstacle. Iâ€™m often driven by my emotions, and if I’m feeling any sort of bad energy, like if I’m overwhelmed, frustrated or angry, it interferes with my ability to make rational decisions…
Which is a roundabout way of saying, â€œI become irrational.â€
This exercise helps me sort things out.
What it can do for you
If your emotions sometimes also get the better of you, “Facts Versus How I Feel” might help you see a problem or situation more clearly, and maybe by changing your perspective, youâ€™ll feel more in control.
How does it work?
When youâ€™re feeling really agitated or fired up, grab something to write in/on (I like to use a notebook, but a smartphone or computer would also work) and a pen or pencil.
On two fresh pages in my notebook, I write the words “Facts” at the top of one of them and “How I Feel” at the top of the other.
On the â€œHow I Feelâ€ page, I write down all of the things Iâ€™m feeling, using short phrases like, “I’m tired,” or “I feel like crying.”
Then, on the “Facts” page, I write down all of the things I know to be true, like â€œIâ€™ll calm down eventually,â€ and â€œIâ€™ll feel better after I eat.â€
How does this help? Well, I donâ€™t really know why, but for some reason, it does, at least for me. Getting things down on paper and being able to see the two separate lists right there in front of me has been a huge help.
Last Friday was a long day for me, and by the time 7:30 at night rolled around, Iâ€™d been going at full speed since 6:30 in the morning. I was beat, fussy and about to throw a fit. Right before the first tears starting rolling down my cheek, I grabbed my notebook and made my lists.
Under “How I Feel,” I wrote…
- I’m tired.
- I’m cranky.
- I’m hungry.
- I’m tapped out.
- I want to cry.
- I’m frustrated.
And under “Facts,” I wrote…
- I don’t have to do anything else for the rest of the night.
- I’ll calm down eventually.
- It’s okay to feel like crying, especially if you’ve been “on” for 13 hours.
- I’ll feel better after I eat.
- I’ll feel better after I shower and put on my pajamas.
- If I have something to look forward to, that usually makes me happy.
I started calming down almost immediately after writing those lists. Fit averted.
After a quick bite to eat and a long, hot shower, I put on jammies and parked my butt on the couch. Then, I watched TV for a couple hours and looked up movie times for the following day, so that I had something fun to look forward to (I watched Argo, BTW, and it was great!).
To be honest, normally, if I hadnâ€™t done my lists, I probably would’ve cried for at least an hour before calming down enough to get anything else done. Whatâ€™s worse, I probably would’ve been cranky anyway for the rest of the night.
These â€œFacts Versus How I Feelâ€ lists have been a boon for me lately, and I hope they help you, too.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,