If you missed Part 1 in this series, you’ll need to quickly be caught up on the definition of a Zagism.
Almost like the traditional Zen koan, these Zagisms spill forth out of my ordained-Zen-Buddhist-priest-slash-husband’s mouth on a regular basis. Last week, we explored, “A monkey is a monkey because he is a monkey.”
“Spinning plates is easy if it is all one plate.”
The thing about these Zagisms that really pisses me off, is that they actually are truly profound concepts that can change one’s life forever, once introduced into your psyche. Like herpes, you can never get rid of this thing.
Just when you want to dismiss the Zagism as simple small talk, maybe even as stupid, it slithers its way like a ninja into the memory folds of your brain, only to reappear and intentionally unsettle you until you address its deeper purpose.
I don’t know about you, but my schedule is BUSY with all the nuances of lifeâ€¦. Iâ€™m almost offended at the suggestion that I could dismiss the complexity of my particular conflicts and liveâ€¦ what, with some focus, serenity and more productivity than I ever imagined?
Friends, there is no use trying to resist the ninja.Â Letâ€™s get to work.
1. Introducing the Brain Dump
We use the term, â€œjugglingâ€ or â€œspinningâ€ because that is how we feel about trying to balance the priorities in our lives.
David Allen explains in Getting Things Done, that our brains literally do not know the difference between the tasks â€œBuy More Dog Foodâ€ and â€œPresent Annual Budget to Boardâ€.Â The two items reserve equal space in our brain, causing equal stress, equal distraction, equal â€œspinningâ€.
It is only when our brains know the task is handled properly, completely, that we are able to feel peace of mind about that particular item.Â When I have purchased the dog food, my brain mentally checks it off the list, and I no longer worry about dog food. For a brief moment, all is right with the world.
If our goal is to be more effective, efficient and focused in our lives, we must assure our brains that all of our â€œplatesâ€ are being managed properly.Â
So, first step is to identify and capture every single item occupying space in our brains.Â We call this the Brain Dump.
BRAIN DUMP EXERCISE:
Get out a large notebook and write down every single task, errand, job, assignment, chore, event, appointment, thesis exam, schedule, action item.
DUMP IT ALL.Â Keep your notebook with you at all times (especially by your bed at night) and capture each and every new item as it appears.Â There is no exception. Any thought that begins with â€œI need toâ€¦â€ or â€œRemember toâ€¦â€ needs to be captured.
You will know when the exercise is complete when your brain tells you it is empty and you feel literal â€œpeace of mindâ€.
2. Make It All One Plate.
Look at your notebook.Â If youâ€™ve done a complete Brain Dump, you may marvel at all that was stored in your head.Â Youâ€™ve been walking around chanting all of those stressful reminders like a mantra!
Ninja says, your LIFE is your ONE PLATE.
Next, take a fresh piece of paper and create the following categories, with lots of room under each one (you may need to make a few drafts as you do this).
- At home
- At computer
- At phone
- Some Day/ Maybe
Now, the fun part.Â Place each item from your notebook into its proper category.Â Dog food is an Errand.Â Calling my mother is an â€œAt phoneâ€.Â Researching new tax law is â€œAt computerâ€.Â Talking to my client about their new project is â€œAgendaâ€â€¦ and looking up airfare for Italy is sadly a â€œSomeday/ Maybeâ€.
Your brain will keep trying to take over.Â Donâ€™t let it.Â Make regular dumps, just like taking out the trash.
3. Follow Instructions.
The final part of this exercise is to simply follow instructions. When you are at your phone, look at your organized list of who to call.Â Prioritize them if youâ€™d like, but just pick up the phone and start calling.
Your brain will know this is being handled properly.Â Your brain will know it no longer needs to spin plates that are neatly stacked in your new working system.Â If complete, you may be amazed at the release of stress you experience.Â This should be replaced by the freedom to be more creative, more focused and more effective.
Is it?Â I want to know.Â Please leave a comment below and share.
Greta Rose Zagarino has been madly in love with an ordained Zen Buddhist priest for almost 14 years, and counting. It is fair to say, a bit of training has seeped its way into her life.
This series describe some of her favorite “Zagisms”, after the last name Zagarino adopted when Greta took this particular monk’s hand ten years ago. See Part 1 here.