Extreme Mental Makeover

Give your thoughts an organization overhaul

on a laptop, all while shaving and eating a hamburger? I don’t think so, but our workplaces often expect the equivalent throughout our workday.”

Psychologist Todd Campbell gives four steps you can put into practice right now to help get your
thought house in order and eliminate scatterbrained tendencies:

  • 1st Write Down Your Thoughts Crump wrote down her study goals to prepare for her second attempt at the Bar. “[Writing helped me] organize my thoughts better and stick to my study plan,” says Crump, who passed the exam in February 2004.
  • 2nd Prioritize Your Thoughts “Do the most important things first,” maintains Campbell. Desiree Daniels-Green, of Buena Vista Township, New Jersey, successfully juggles a teaching career, marriage, and motherhood by keeping her most important tasks in mind. “As long as the bills are paid, the kids’ clothes are washed, and they’re fed, everything else is secondary,” says Daniels-Green, 34, whose active children, Malcolm, 11, and twins Jasmine and Janaya, 2, make organization necessary.
  • 3rd Revise Your Thoughts You don’t have to act on every idea that passes through your mind. “Figure out what is important and urgent; important, but not urgent; not important, but urgent; and not important and not urgent,” advises Campbell. Then, act on what’s crucial, file what isn’t immediately essential, and toss what isn’t useful.
  • 4th Protect your mental space When you have a lot to sort out, Campbell advises minimizing nerve-racking interruptions whenever possible. “Turn off your phones, e-mail, and pagers. Close your door,” he says.

Reading Resources On Mental Management

  • How to Mind Map by Tony Buzan (Harper Collins; $13.08)
  • Managing Your Mind: The Mental Fitness Guideby Gillian Butler & Tony Hope (Oxford Paperbacks; $14.95)
  • Conquering Chronic Disorganizationby Judith Kolberg (Squall Press; $13)
  • How to Be Organized in Spite of Yourself:Time and Space Management That Works With Your Personal Styleby Sunny Schlenger (Signet Book; $6.99)
  • Organizing From the Inside Outby Julie Morgenstern (Owl Books; $15)
  • One Thing at a Time:100 Simple Ways to Live Clutter-Free Every Dayby Cindy Glovinsky (St. Martin’s Griffin; $14.95)
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