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Page history last edited by jamessmithforum 14 years, 3 months ago

The way I have done MIND SWEEPs or MIND DUMPs is to start a new text file on the computer, relax for a few moments, then set a timer for 5 minutes. I then type out things that are on my mind, one item per line.  You can also use a mind mapping process.  A sample template is provided under item 4 on this page.



I ask myself...

  • What am I thinking about a lot?
  • What are the issues at work? At home?
  • What things have I been trying to get done.

If I am still writing madly away when the timer goes off, I set it for another five minutes and repeat the process.



The next technique is to take a notepad then go for a walk around the house and garden (or office) and note everything you can see that needs to get done. For my back yard I created:


  • Talk to Vince about getting back fence replaced
  • Get rid of children's swings
  • Get rid of bricks
  • Remove old fence around pool area



David Allen has published some ideas idea prompts in his GTD book and I scanned these pages and included below. Other checklists you can use include:


  • Your company organisation chart, especially the people you supervise, report to or work with
  • Your job description
  • Your most recent performance appraisal, esp areas for growth
  • Your customer/prospect list
  • Your products and services list



From "Getting Things Done"


Mental Gathering: The Mind-Sweep


Once you feel you've collected all the physical things in your environment that need processing, you'll want to collect anything else that may be residing in your psychic RAM. What has your attention that isn't represented by something already in your in-basket?


This is where the stack of plain paper really comes into play. I recommend that you write out each thought, each idea, each project or thing that has your attention, on a separate sheet of paper. You could make one long list on a pad, but given how you will later be processing each item individually, it's actually more effective to put everything on separate sheets. You will likely not keep these pieces of paper (unless you decide that low-tech is your best organizing method), but it'll be handy to have them as discrete items to deal with as you're processing.


It will probably take you between twenty minutes and an hour to clear your head onto separate notes, after you've gathered everything else. You'll find that things will tend to occur to you in somewhat random fashion-little things, big things, personal things, professional things, in no particular order.


In this instance, go for quantity. It's much better to overdo this process than to risk missing something. You can always toss the junk later. Your first idea may be "Save the ozone layer," and then you'll think, "I need cat food!" Grab them all. Don't be surprised if you discover you've created quite a stack of paper in "in" during this procedure.  Here is a more expansive list that can help you get started as well as a sample "Mind Map" you can build off of.


Lists to Assist You with Your Mind Sweep:


To assist in clearing your head, you may want to review the following list, item by item, to see if you've forgotten anything. Often you'll just need a jog to unearth something lurking in a corner of your mind. Remember, when something occurs to you, write it on a piece of paper and toss it into "in."





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