The dreams are flying through your head and all of a sudden you wake up in a jolt. You look over to the side of the bed and the clock says 1:30 in the morning. A sense of dread quickly comes over you as you think about the upgrade proposal that is due to the management team in the morning. All of a sudden a million details come flashing thorough your brain. You think to yourself…
- Is the conference room available?
- How about bottled water for the meeting?
- You still need a closing slide for the Powerpoint.
- That stink’n Palm Pilot still isn’t synching.
- What am I going to title this report?
Stress is the name of the game and you toss and turn. All of a sudden the most awesome name for your report comes to you. Then another idea shoots across your mind. You picture your closing Powerpoint slide with a smiling person and the word “DONE” in bold letters. Then the most dreaded thought appears out of nowhere.
“You need to get some sleep or you’ll be wreck for the meeting.”
You roll over and try to get back to sleep. You suddenly remember that you have an appointment to drop off the car at the dealer in the morning for service. You put the idea in the back of your mind and toss and turn some more. After 45 minutes of this mess you finally fall back asleep.
It’s 6:30 and the alarm is going off. After 15 minutes of trying to wake up, you drag yourself to the kitchen for that first cup of coffee. In the back of your mind you remember that you had a rough time sleeping. You drag yourself through the morning ritual and get into your car for the morning commute. The traffic is bad and you find yourself pulling up to your company parking lot a few minutes late. As you take the key out of the ignition… you remember that you have an appointment at the dealer five miles away.
You hit your fist on the dashboard… “darn it,” you say to yourself and realize you don’t have the time to get to the dealer now. You rush into your office and fire up your Powerpoint. Now the night time experience sort of comes back to you. You remember that you had a great idea for the title and the closing slide… but unfortunately the more you try to remember them the further they disappear into your subconscious.
Arrghhh… you grasp at straws as you notice you only have 10 minutes until the meeting. You throw a generic “Upgrade Proposal,” title on the project and clip on a “The End,” slide to the end. The proposal goes as planned but the reception is less than stellar. The presentation comes to an abrupt end with your closing slide. The management team is not impressed and they leave the room. You kick yourself for such last minute shoddiness. You think to yourself…
If I only had been able to get a full nights sleep, this wouldn’t have happened.
One of the guys hands you a book on the way out… I’ts David Allen’s great book… “Getting Things Done,” and you promise yourself to read it as soon as possible.
The story above has happened to me innumerable times. It’s always that middle of the night experience, and there are three things that
seem to come up time after time..
- The stressful worry about stuff that needs to be done
- A great idea that needs to be captured
- An appointment or other item that I had forgotten.
After reading David Allen’s book, I realized that one of the keys to reducing stress is to write things down. If they are just in your head and not on paper your mind is constantly processing them. This can cause many a sleepless night. I’ve implemented David’s Getting Things Done methodology at work but not always at home.
The other night I woke up with my mind going a million miles an hour. I got up and spent five minutes writing down everything that was on my mind. All the worries and tasks. I also wrote down the appointment that had come to mind along with the great idea for a blog post. I went back to bed and Viola… I was asleep in 5 minutes. Somehow writing all these things down really worked.
Needless to say this was amazing. I went into the office in the morning and looked at what I had written a few hours before. The stressful and worrisome items didn’t seem bad at all. The appointment reminded me of an early morning meeting and the idea for a blog post soon came to life.
I realized I needed a way to do this on a regular basis.
Enter the “On My Mind” template. It’s a simple affair with 20 lines for all of your thoughts and worries, a large area for ideas, and a smaller box for things to be remembered. This simple sheet works very well to capture all the stuff in one place. I have found that filling this out with the thoughts of the day before going to bed really helps. I then keep the copy by the bed along with a pen, and if those great ideas come in the middle of the night I have a place to capture them.
It’s really simple and works very well. I can take the sheet along with me in the morning and plug any items into my project manager and appointment book at work. It’s interesting to file these sheets in a notebook and refer back to them from time to time. Most of those things that I worried so much about had great outcomes. This simple sheet is a real motivating force to keep stress at bay.
The template comes in a Microsoft Word version and one in an Acrobat PDF, both contained in one downloadable zip file.
Download it here: On My Mind Template
Give this a try the next time you are stressed out. Take 5 minutes to give yourself a better nights sleep.
Our other daily five minute solutions can be found here.