Decluttering our Brain
Organizing Ourselves & Decluttering Our Brain
Good morning. It’s time to “Get Things Done” (GTD), famously coined by David Allen. The GTD method encourages you to free up brain power by tracking your TO-DOs in a tool instead of in your head.
If you’re anything like me, I love to learn. I’m curious. I’m creative. I love to experiment and jump on the latest thing, whatever that is! However, being like me, which isn’t a bad thing, does have its pitfalls when it comes to completing things.
You see, because of the countless ways we are pulled today in terms of information, my yerning of exploring curiosity often means jumping from one subject to another. After struggling with this, I decided to start to control or prioritize this need—the need to be Curious.
In today’s Unboundcuriousity’s first issue, our goal is to begin prioritizing and relieving our brains of all the information we try to save. Doing so will provide more mental capacity for essential pieces of information rather than all bits of information.
Get Things Done. Seriously!
To start this process, let’s identify a few standard tools we can utilize to help us declutter our brains. Then we will explore each item in depth.
The very first item is one you are probably all too familiar with. A primary email inbox can contribute to all kinds of things that demand our attention—various subscriptions, newsletters, promotions, forums, social-type emails… and so on.
Primary Email Inbox
By segregating our inboxes and utilizing filters, we can automatically begin to sort out important information into categories. We can achieve this by opening the email, clicking on the three dots, and selecting “filter messages like this.”
Creating filters to help organize our inbox
Next, another popup will appear with various options on how we would like to segregate our email. We can choose subjects, email addresses, words and associated actions such as delete, forward and more. It is really up to you how you choose to filter through messages. First, I suggest keeping things accessible with a few main categories.
Lastly, click on ‘create filter’ to apply the changes. Viola!
Choosing to undertake this process, which seems tedious at first, truly makes a difference. While writing this newsletter, it’s been about a week since I utilized my email to declutter my brain… it’s fantastic.
A TO-DO list is the next in the process to help us get organized. Utilizing various applications, free or paid, TO-DO lists are meant to break down tasks into clear, concise smaller tasks, enabling us to complete the overall objective.
For example, if I had a goal of writing a book, I wouldn’t use that description because it’s fair to general and frankly a massive task. Instead, a better way to approach it is to chunk it down.
Brainstorm Book Title
Write one paragraph today
Chunking down our main task or goal into bite-size pieces keeps us focused and motivated.
I use TO-DOist to create my list, but you can utilize any application or create your own if you desire. The key here is to choose one that fits your style; you’ll use it more!
Using our calendar to time block has been a godsend for me personally. Time-blocking keeps me accountable because of my curiosity in bouncing from subject to subject. Furthermore, because a set time is blocked, it also serves as a reminder to move on to the next item. This eliminates the need to keep going, often ignoring another subject.
What exactly is “Time-Blocking?” It is when we allocate tasks throughout our day as a block, aka start and end time, in our calendar. By utilizing time blocks, we eliminate the open-ended options that may extend a task beyond what we thought, taking out chunks in the next task allocation and keeping us accountable.
Some form of time-blocking suggests the whole day needs to be blocked out. However, I use it to block out tasks that are important to me that don’t necessarily consume the entire day. Blocking out my whole day is a bit unrealistic as things pop up unexpectedly on occasion.
From a tool standpoint, I use a simple Google Calendar, but Apple Calendar or any other calendar alternative will do the job.
Database AKA Hub of Intelligence
The last piece of the GTD method is to create a database, to jot down your thoughts, articles, summaries and so on. Using a database such as Obsidian, Roam Research or Bear can help to establish a connection through your thoughts that you would have not otherwise been made aware of.
Personally, I use Obsidian because files live on your machine and do not get uploaded to a server in the cloud. Below is a snippet of Obisdan Features.
After you begin recording notes (in any of these Database type applications) connections will begin to form as evidenced by the screenshot below. Each dot is referred to as a note and each note has lines of connection to another note.
Additional resources are widely available on Youtube if you’re interested in learning more. Maybe in the future, I can create a video on a similar subject.
Graph view Obsidian
For example, I have a main Jiu-Jitsu topic with multiple notes about lessons, techniques and my overall thoughts. Utilizing the Graph view I can see the various connections about that topic. In which those connections could help me process things, or spark a new thought or idea.
What I call the “Hub of Intelligence” on a basic level is to get those thoughts out of our brain relieving the pressure of trying to remember it all. By utilizing one of these applications it can dramatically help. One thing to remember and not get caught into is going down the rabbit hole of these applications. There is a learning curve with multiple features to explore, admittedly, which I still don’t know how to use. Keep it on a basic level initially until the habit is formed, then dig deeper at that point.
In summary, getting information out of our heads in as many ways as possible will help orientate us. You can accomplish this in a multitude of ways. In this issue, I list ways I personally use to help achieve this goal and what has been working for me. There is no one glove fits all solution, and I recommend you try different approaches, and web applications and see what you prefer.
On that note, I would love to hear about your method and what worked or didn’t work for you!