What to do after a mind sweep

What’s next after your mind sweep?

After last week’s mind sweep post, 2 readers emailed me how relieved they felt. For the first time since she could even recall, one reader finally got some clarity and felt like a ton has been lifted of her shoulders. Have you done your own mind sweep this weekend?

If you have, you may have felt overwhelmed looking at that long list. Maybe you even took a break when you saw this list becoming so long? For anyone doing a mind sweep for the first time, it can be daunting to realise how much their mind is actually occupied with tiny bits.

Any surprises?

Have a look at your mind sweep list. Are you surprised by the thoughts that are racing around your mind? Did they find their way onto the list a couple of times? Or are you astonished seeing some topics show up numerous times, without even thinking of them as anything big? Did you add some things which you didn’t even realise they were on your mind until you did this mind sweep?

What’s next?

Let’s look at each item more closely. And let’s make a decision. David Allen, the founder of Getting Things Done, suggests assigning each point of your mind sweep into a specific category and I actually like this approach:


Reading some of your mind sweep bit might make you think: “Why am I still on about this?” I certainly had that. I kept playing with some ideas, despite knowing that I would never exercise them.

Throw them out, like you would with old magazines or take out menus. If you’ve spent a lot of time on them, now you can acknowledge that and still give them a farewell. You’re making space for ideas and plans you actually want to see come to fruition.

To-do list

A to-do list should be small enough that you don’t feel like going back to bed. It should be specific for you to know what needs to be done. Instead of “Mother’s Day” (yes, it’s on Sunday, 14 May), write down “Book table at mom’s fav restaurant – 4 people, 1 pm”.

Put dates next to your actions. This will help you be more time conscious and avoid any late fees, e.g. for paying your utilities bills. Alternatively, you can put these items in your calendar.

I’ve seen some to-do lists separated by location (e.g. home, office, plane, mall, restaurant, waiting in queue), allowing the user to carry out their activities where they are. This colleague spent so much time waiting in queues that she optimised her time and didn’t waste her precious time aimlessly on social media.

In the past, my to-do lists were paper based. As I’m travelling between locations, my phone is a better source for me. Whether you use your phone’s notes or apps like Todoist or Wunderlist, find one that you like and stick with it!

You can take your to-do list also to decide if you want to delegate it or defer it. These 2 steps are from the Get Things Done flowchart. Delegate the pick up from the dry cleaner to your spouse who’ll be driving by it anyway or get it delivered by the dry cleaner. You can defer your decision to participate in a language course until July, just put it in your calendar to not forget.


Schedule time for your activities. “If it’s not on your calendar, it won’t get done.” You’ve heard this many times and it’s true. Unless you dedicate time for a specific activity, it will remain a brain filler. Schedule 15-30 minutes for the activity. When you’re doing it, put a timer to see how much time it actually needs. Remember Parkinson’s Law? It will take as long as you give it time, so don’t block an hour if you can get more done by focusing on it for 20-30 minutes.


Larger activities become projects where you may need multiple steps to complete it. Just talk to my friend who recently moved!

Define what your overall goal is and then break down the steps required to complete it. For example, “ACCA” may be your goal. For all non-finance folks, it’s the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and it’s a desirable qualification. You don’t immediately get that qualification. You’d start by reviewing the training providers available in your city, signing up for a course, attending it and studying the materials. Then you’d register for the exam, take it and if passed, you’d be ACCA qualified.

You can use software like MS Project to manage your home projects (yes, I’ve had a client do this!) or apps like Asana. Again, pick one you like and stick with it! No going back and forth as that can be extremely frustrating for you and consequently undermine your efforts to become and stay on top of your project.


Are some things on your list just a reminder or a reference? Put these in your calendar, if they are reminders of things you’ll need to do in the future. If they’re more for your own records, write up the notes and file them with the appropriate documents.

There are a number of little activities I promised our clients for this week. I better get cracking on today’s to-do list and will be working on a personal fun project tonight. Fingers crossed it will goes well and you can see the result on Facebook. What are you going to do next?

Until next time,

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