As a creative type, it can sometimes seem impossible to stay on task. New ideas, inspirations and hierarchal intentions spring up like haphazard wildflowers on the side of the road. And I’m supposed to make sense of it all? “Ooh, that looks pretty.” “Oh, purple AND yellow, how quaint.” Sometimes, my right-brained nature makes me feel like a puppy, pouncing wide-eyed at every new adventure, abandoning the last with little initial thought. Of course, this is wonderful if I’ve been challenged with the task of designing centerpieces or choreographing a dance. When it comes to answering emails, doing my taxes, scheduling appointments or any other task that my passionate, imaginative self considers mundane, haphazard tendencies take over.
But there is that analytical, sensible left-brained part of me that yearns for purpose and productivity. It insists on having every thing in its place, it thrives on crossed-out to-do lists. And I can’t kid myself. Staying on top of things, making the most of my time, crossing off to-do lists—these are all essential to leading a successful life. From my relationships to my career to my personal health, meticulous left-brained praxis is essential. The key is training the right side of my brain to take a back-seat at times. I have come up with several strategies to aid me in “reining it in
Divvying up my “to-dos” into several categories helps me figure out what holds the most importance or needs to be completed first. Because I am so visual, it takes more than a simple list to discern urgent from not-so-urgent tasks. In the past, I have compiled tasks into different circles on a sheet of paper, the most important ones listed inside the largest, boldest circle—the least important in the smallest circle. Even naming the circles things like “Serious Stuff” or “Just For Fun” helps me stay on task. After the “serious stuff” list is crossed out, the “just for fun” circle is like a reward!
2. Set a Timer
Depending on how pleasant or jarring I’d like my reminder to move on to be, I’ll set the timer on my iPhone to either lightly strum or blare a code-red alarm. If I know I’m going to be working on something I could easily get lost in (photoshopping pictures before uploading to Facebook…), I’ll set my timer for a reasonable amount of time, so that I’ll realize when it’s time to start a new task. This also challenges me to complete tasks more expediently, since it’s fun to race against the clock! This often saves me the frustration of procrastination.
3. Clear a Space, Clear the Air
If I am inhabiting a messy space, or I’ve made a mess of any sort of relationship, I will absolutely not get anything productive done. I will mill over worries, doodle, eat chocolate, check Facebook, etc., etc., because neither my physical space nor brain space is streamlined. Clearing the air of any negativity with people in your life is imperative to productivity. It’s just as, if not more, important than having a tidy workspace. So, declutter. Start with a clean slate and watch those to-dos disappear.
Now, if you’re naturally careful and analytical all the time, you may not have to think so much about how to make tasks more manageable. In fact, you may be more suited for another blog entry pertaining to injecting more inspiration and creativity into your life. My moral is—everyone needs balance. Realizing what you’re good at and nourishing that while pruning the stuff you’re not so good at—well, that just makes for a better you. We can all cheers to that! Happy reining…
Authored by Ruby Lewis