How to organize your thoughts

When writing, it is important that you can understand what you want to say. It is important that they are organized in your head to make sure that you can translate it to words properly. It’s like when you go outside of your house to get inspiration from your surroundings; you have to make sure that you already know what to look for even before going out. You have to always know what you are writing about. Knowledge of your subject is key. Try to dig deep into the problems surrounding your subject. The problems people face doing garage door repair in Wichita is different than HVAC installation in Seattle.

To organize your idea, you can consider remembering the following tips:

  1. Choose your best time – Ideally, this process is best done, twice each day, first thing in the morning and again before bedtime, but that doesn’t work for everyone. Choose the time that works best for you. Any time will work. The key is to do it consistently.

I have found that I need to my morning coffee, breakfast, and exercise first. My brain has to wake up a bit. I apparently need a caffeine kick, fuel and stress release in order to form coherent thoughts.

  1. Choose your method of logging – Any number of apps on your phone will work well to record thoughts and tasks. If you prefer, you can use the voice-recording feature. Even the basic note function works fine. An organizational program or document, such as Outlook, OneNote, or Evernote on your computer will work as well.

Though I tend to be a “techie” by nature, I still prefer to use a pen and pad for this process. Sometimes the simplest method is the most effective. Whatever tool you choose, make sure it’s quick, and readily accessible.

  1. Quickly dump everything you’re keeping in your head – And I mean everything… Not just tasks, but thoughts, concerns, questions, and ideas too. Get it all out. Don’t worry about sorting them; you can do that later, just get them out of your head so that they can stop spinning around, using up precious brainpower and space.

Once you’re finished, ask yourself if you need or want to act on any of these items today.

If the answer is yes:

Add those tasks to your ongoing task or to-do list (you have one of those right?)

Cross them off or remove them.

If the answer is no:

Is it an idea? – Add it to an idea file, work notebook, or document to pursue later.

Is it really more of a question or concerns you have? – Record it in a journal or notebook to mull over at another time. (If you never go back to consider them, they probably weren’t that important.)

It’s that simple. It should take no more than 5 – 10 minutes

The Psychological Benefits of Writing

If you love writing, there is nothing that can stop you from thinking of the right words to say and from writing the right terms to describe how you feel. But did you know that there are psychological benefits of writing? Here are some of them:

Writing and happiness

Much of the research on writing and happiness deals with “expressive writing,” or jotting down what you think and how you feel. Even blogging “undoubtedly affords similar benefits” to private expressive writing in terms of therapeutic value.

Writing and communicating clearly

Laziness with words creates difficulty in describing feelings, sharing experiences, and communicating with others. Being able to flesh out thoughts in your mind only to have them come stumbling out when you speak is supremely frustrating. Fortunately, regular writing seems to offer some reprieve.

In both emotional intelligence and in hard sciences like mathematics, writing has been shown to help people communicate highly complex ideas more effectively. Writing helps eliminate “it sounded good in my head” by forcing your hand; brains forgive fuzzy abstractions, prose does not.

Writing and gratitude

As the authors of one study noted, subjects who reflected on the good things in their life once a week by writing them down were more positive and motivated about their current situations and their futures.

The catch was, when they wrote about them every day, the benefits were minimal. This makes sense; any activity can feel disingenuous and just plain boring if done too often. It seems like the key is to reflect and write about gratitude regularly, but not begrudgingly often.

Writing and your “mental tabs”

Have you ever had too many Internet tabs open at once? It is a madhouse of distraction. When I feel like my brain has too many tabs open at once, it’s often the result of trying to mentally juggle too many thoughts at the same time.

Writing gives form to your ideas and gets them out of your head, freeing up bandwidth and preventing you from crashing your browser like a late night downward spiral on Wikipedia.

Writing and learning

Information often sticks better when it’s learned as though it needs to be taught or re-written in your own words. This concept of having a “writer’s ear” never fully clicked with me until I started writing regularly.

There’s a certain discipline required to create interesting written work that demands the individual be receptive and focused on finding new sources of information, inspiration, and insight. I’ve read books, listened to podcasts/radio, and watched videos I would normally have put off in order to learn something new so that I might write about later.

 

The Thing About Feelings

The thing about feelings is there is only one way out of them – and that’s going through them. Now the happy, easy feelings, we don’t want them to end, but the uncomfortable ones, that’s a different story.

So goes the problem with staying positive. I can be black and white about it all and forget that feelings have to be felt. It reminds me of when I was in labor. As you moms out there know, it really hurts! But there is no turning back, no matter how much you wish you can, when the labor pains begin. I felt the same way when I found out I had cancer, except there was no beautiful baby to look forward to. I had to go through it to get through it. And I’m still doing it now.

Several people have told me lately I’m brave or that I’m a hero. I really don’t get it; and I’m not being falsely modest. What choice do I have, really? Before I had stage IV cancer, I remember telling a friend going through it that I didn’t think I would be strong enough to face a diagnosis like she was. She told me I would be, and she was right. As Eleanor Roosevelt says, “A woman is like a tea bag. She never knows how strong she is until she’s put in hot water.”

But what people really don’t realize is there is strength in feeling your feelings. And with my dire situation now, it’s not an easy thing. Sooner or later, they have to come out, which is what happened this weekend. I had a full-out pity party, and God and Mike were my only guests. It all started Saturday morning with a comment from our daughter about how she could see Mike and me as a cute, old couple. I don’t know if she was testing the waters with me, but I felt I must prepare her in some way. So I said, “I’m not sure I will make it to be an old lady, but we remain hopeful about this new trial and I’m doing everything I can to stick around as long as I can.”

A few hours later, I was sitting watching a funny movie on TV, trying to distract myself, as usual. I found myself pleading out loud to God. “Please help me! I can’t do this alone. Chrissy needs me; I need her and Mike! I love my life!” Then Mike came in, and the pity party ensued. I talked about how unfair this was – first a shitty childhood with a messed-up family, then I finally create a happy one of my own and this happens! All I wanted was to create a childhood for Chrissy that I didn’t have, and now here’s something I can’t control. Why me? I cried my eyes out, and Mike listened.

I felt immediately better after that and it has continued throughout the week. I haven’t had any more crying jags, and I’ve even had some peeks of hope. For some reason, dying is no longer in the forefront of my mind. I’ve been focusing on helping Chrissy hone in on a career path and planning our first college visit. I’ve been enjoying her company when I get the privilege to see her between her busy activities and homework. I even finished a book I was reading, and it had nothing to do with cancer. I’ve caught up with friends on the phone and online. I remind myself, once again, I’m living with cancer, and I’m not ready to throw in the towel anytime soon.

So maybe getting that pity party out of the way was a good thing. Who knows, I might have another one or two or more. But I’m not going to stay in that place all the time. I will move through them and move on with my life. I’m also giving myself a break from feeling like I have to be a strong woman who is always focused on helping others. I’ve learned I can sit and watch TV, and that’s OK. I can sit and read a book, and that’s OK, too. I can take a little walk with Mike or visit a friend. I don’t have to do anything earth-shaking, productive or heroic. I don’t have to try to make an impact by promoting my book or give talks right now. This is me time, and I’m going to be gentle with myself and allow myself to manage the best that I can.