AWARENESS: Make a Capture List

This part of the journey has three steps and the first is the most important: Make a Capture List. Capture those little thought animals in your net and get them onto a blank page. You can’t work with many thoughts running around in your head. It’s like an overwhelming noise. To feel better, get them out of your head and onto a page so you can work with them. It will give you peace of mind. One thought at a time without any anxiety that you might forget something. One step at a time feels slow, but don’t stop and you will go faster. A river must fill every gap and bend to reach its destination.

1. Make a Capture List

Write down everything that tugs at your attention. Capture these thoughts and emotions and give each a name.  Make a capture list every morning or whenever your mind becomes agitated. When your thoughts begin branching like lightning. Capture them and return to one thought at a time with this meditation. Making the capture list will give you peace of mind and guide you toward the right action.

2. Process each item

Next to each item, briefly answer three questions:

  • What is the next step? 
  • How long will that take? 
  • When will it be done?

Items that can be done in 5 minutes or less can be dealt with immediately.  Anything longer than that goes on your calendar.

3. Update your Calendar
  • Create a deadline for each new item from your capture list.
  • Write down a plan to complete each item on its deadline.
  • Review the calendar for upcoming obligations.
  • Prioritize the combined list of urgent items from your capture list and calendar in order to create today’s checklist.

Awareness of Negative Patterns

  • Recognize your patterns by the negative feelings you experience again and again.
  • Identify the stress that triggers your pattern.
  • Remember the whole progression of feelings you experienced as you played out the pattern. 
  • Identify a “crossroads moment” where you could break the pattern with a new behavior and create a more positive outcome.
  • Over time, work to move the crossroads moment back, closer and closer to the trigger, in order to identify and deescalate the pattern as early as possible.
  • Find some words, a personal mantra, that you can repeat to yourself to remember the new behavior when you suspect the old pattern has begun.

Calendar for Tips for Task Awareness

Set up time blocks that will give you a visual indication of how many real hours are available to you. These are normal calendar events that cover your whole day which you will nest events into. That way, you can focus on your waking hours easily when scheduling.

Zoom out, Zoom in

Get some perspective on what’s coming up before switching to an hourly view of the day ahead. Switch between the different views on your calendar; month, two-week, week, and finally day view. This will help you prepare for long-term obligations/goals while gradually narrowing your focus onto the hour-by-hour actions that will get you there in the present moment.

The goal is to be aware of big upcoming events and reserve time for preparations on the calendar. Your calendar must always clearly reflect reality.

One mind

Switch to the day view on your calendar and look at today’s events, one by one. Does your schedule reflect reality? Learn not to lie to yourself about your capabilities. Remove items and add transition time where necessary to reduce stress and increase success.

Make a checklist of today’s tasks including the duration of each task and time you’ll start. Set an alarm for tasks that you might be tempted to allow to overflow the bounds of the allotted time.

Finally, set an alarm to return to your checklist to ensure you’re on track during the day if necessary. Anything that helps you be more aware of how you actually operate, where your attention goes, and your patterns of distraction.

The goal is to be clear about what you are doing with your attention from moment to moment and ask why. Your brain can naturally come up with creative solutions to any problems once reality is firmly grasped.