Heads are for having ideas – not holding them

Heads are for having ideas – not holding them

As I get older, I find it harder and harder to remember everything I must remember.  Is it my age or is it that I am just doing more? Probably both. Whenever I rely on my head to hold everything I must remember I am invariably disappointed, frustrated, and spin a little out of control – because I know I am forgetting things. I know it is not just me who experiences this.  One memory I do have is when I was first training as a nurse. My Psychology lecturer explained that we can only hold 7 things in our head at any one time. More recently this has been downgraded to 4 things – did we get dumber, more distracted? Maybe.

Sadly, I suspect my own head is a case in point.  The real estate in my head is like an urban slum. It is so jampacked that bits and pieces are being booted out – and these bits and pieces are often the important bits and pieces that I need to keep in there! I simply cannot recall everything I need to when I need to.  And I have often reached a point where I have felt I could not fit another thing in.

So, when I heard David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done”, say: “Heads are for having ideas – not for holding them”, my ears pricked.  I came across his book a few years ago and employed many of the elements of his ‘stress-free productivity management’ method. Check it out – here’s the audible link: Getting Things Done

One of the most powerful techniques is downloading everything that has your attention – which completely frees up your mind.

All the things on your mental ‘to do list’, half thought out projects and plans, good ideas that occurred to you in the shower this morning, people you must follow up – all the random things that might require action and taking your attention away from the moment you are in.  

As soon as I downloaded these from my head, into my trusted system (which is not in my head – the subject of another post), I was free to have more creative thoughts, I felt more relaxed and in control.  My little urban slum turned into a serene Japanese garden (well maybe that’s overstating it, but you get my point).

So, where are you holding all the stuff you need to do and think about?  In your heads or outside your head. If it is the latter, well done you! If it is the former, then give this a try:

Take yourself off somewhere conducive to quiet thinking, and download everything on your mind – a “Mindsweep” as David Allen calls it.  Capture these thoughts/actions in one place that you know you will refer to. Tell me how you feel. And tell me where you captured them.  Next time I’ll share where I am capturing mine – I think you’ll love it.

The Journey from Clinician to Empowered Leader is pathed with overwhelm or achievements…you decide.

If you are a clinical manager, then you know that the role is an amorphous mass of stuff, that is complex and growing – like an amoeba.  And with that comes a multitude of things that need to be done. Unlike pure clinician work, your work does not stop at the end of the shift, so you get to think of these things through your ‘non-work’ hours as well!  One of the greatest fears you might have is that you will forget something – which you will unless you do what I suggested in this post. Another thing you could do, is join me on the Clinician 2 Empowered Leader Journey to gather the tools, tricks and tips to better manage this amorphous mass of stuff that is your role.


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