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  • Does the mind ever empty?

    Before GTD, I'd go to sleep with a vague sense of "things undone". True it was floating around my unconcious RAM, but it didn't disturb sleep. Now, before I go to bed, I try to "dump" all of the "stuff" into the voice recording function of my Pocket PC (and then place it in the AM). Problem is...my mind always comes up with more "stuff". So as soon as my head hits the pillow POW more stuff. Anyone else experience this? And how do you deal with it? Or is this a case of:

    a) Ignorance is bliss
    b) Mind dumps get easier the longer you do GTD

  • #2
    I still get stuff. I think that's how our brain works, though.

    I get less stuff if I've had a quiet day, though. I suspect that, if I set aside more time during the day to relax and think, my brain wouldn't try to cram all its brainstorming into my bedtime.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by avrum68
      Before GTD, I'd go to sleep with a vague sense of "things undone". True it was floating around my unconcious RAM, but it didn't disturb sleep. Now, before I go to bed, I try to "dump" all of the "stuff" into the voice recording function of my Pocket PC (and then place it in the AM). Problem is...my mind always comes up with more "stuff". So as soon as my head hits the pillow POW more stuff. Anyone else experience this? And how do you deal with it?
      As someone with a history of trouble getting to sleep, I would never, ever, ever try to think of more things I need to do before going to bed. Yikes, I'd never get to sleep. I make a great rule of doing only relaxing things before bedtime, nothing stimulating at all.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by andersons
        As someone with a history of trouble getting to sleep, I would never, ever, ever try to think of more things I need to do before going to bed. Yikes, I'd never get to sleep. I make a great rule of doing only relaxing things before bedtime, nothing stimulating at all.
        I know...I know. But it so happens that bedtime/quiet time is when all the unconcious RAM stuff surfaces...so the question is:

        a) ignore it and hope it resurfaces in the AM
        b) keep dumping and it'll get easier

        Comment


        • #5
          Try Earlier In the Day

          avrum68,

          In your case ignorance is not bliss. As you say in your note, you were going to bed every night with a "vague sense of 'things undone'." An important question here is whether you still have those feelings as often now that you have been using GTD for a while.

          Although mind dumps do get easier and briefer as you get more experienced, I would have to agree with andersons that just before you go to bed might not be the best time to do them. The main reason is that they have a tendency to rev you up for accomplishing things.

          If all of this stuff surfaces on you because it is the first time during the day that you get mentally quiet, then you might want to try to take some "quiet time" earlier in the day and doing a mind dump then.

          Like the body, the mind can become accustomed to routines. In this case, you are training your mind to come up with ideas of things to do just before you go to bed. With practice, you may be able to accustom it to doing this a couple of hours earlier.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by avrum68
            I know...I know. But it so happens that bedtime/quiet time is when all the unconcious RAM stuff surfaces...so the question is:

            a) ignore it and hope it resurfaces in the AM
            b) keep dumping and it'll get easier
            I'd say to keep dumping, otherwise the stuff is going to stay stuck up in your head. Keeping the tape recorder by your bed is a great idea....

            I keep a pen and paper by my bed for such stuff... and to be honest, I'm sleeping better now than I have in years.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Scott_L_Lewis
              avrum68,

              In your case ignorance is not bliss. As you say in your note, you were going to bed every night with a "vague sense of 'things undone'." An important question here is whether you still have those feelings as often now that you have been using GTD for a while.

              Although mind dumps do get easier and briefer as you get more experienced, I would have to agree with andersons that just before you go to bed might not be the best time to do them. The main reason is that they have a tendency to rev you up for accomplishing things.

              If all of this stuff surfaces on you because it is the first time during the day that you get mentally quiet, then you might want to try to take some "quiet time" earlier in the day and doing a mind dump then.

              Like the body, the mind can become accustomed to routines. In this case, you are training your mind to come up with ideas of things to do just before you go to bed. With practice, you may be able to accustom it to doing this a couple of hours earlier.

              Thanks Scott. I'm going to try and do "mind dumps" and GTD overviews 2 hours before zzzz. I believe "they" say 21 days until a new behavior becomes a habit...I'll let you know if this is true

              Comment


              • #8
                Try this:

                Offload earlier. I have had the same problem. I was reading prior to bedtime and ideas would pop in then. It's sometimes difficult to pull off, but I try to move that up a couple of hours. After dinner and homework is finished, my wife and son go off in different directions. I take about 30 minutes to go through the reading materials that accumulated through the day, and jot down ideas to deal with later. Then I'm available to for the end of day family wrap ups.

                By the way, instead of the 3x5 card hipster, I use a minature composition book. It is about 3.5x4.5, has a cover, and costs less than a buck
                .

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                • #9
                  I was just thinking about this same issue myself. When I'm trying to sit quietly and allow my mind to empty, what usually happens is just as I think it's still, more ideas pop out of the void. (usually ideas to tweak my GTD system ) Having pad and paper handy does seem the best way to deal with it, but I don't think it ever stops. No wonder my Someday/Maybe file is such a mess!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    That, I think, is what David talks about when he says that emptying the mind open up new creativity. With less on your mind, you are coming up with other things that would have never surfaced otherwise.

                    I do agree with the others, though. You might want to try to dump the brain earlier. I have to fight that myself. I too do my best thinking between 9pm and midnight.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Adrenalin before bed ?

                      Originally posted by avrum68
                      Before GTD, I'd go to sleep with a vague sense of "things undone". True it was floating around my unconcious RAM, but it didn't disturb sleep. Now, before I go to bed, I try to "dump" all of the "stuff" into the voice recording function of my Pocket PC (and then place it in the AM). Problem is...my mind always comes up with more "stuff". So as soon as my head hits the pillow POW more stuff.
                      To me, it seems as if you might be doing the mind dump too close to sleep time. It seems as if you are putting yourself in mild stress (good for creativity, bad for sleep) by doing the mind dump them.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        it gets better, along with trust

                        I had a similar problem, and noticed that as I got deeper into the practice of GTD, I had fewer thoughts coming at me when trying to get to sleep. I believe that as your mind starts trusting the system, it stops generating these things at night (it's based on fear, really) and does so more during the day. For this to work, though, I have to 100% diligent on capturing *everything*. It takes discipline, but for me it's well worth it. That said, I still have times when I have to get up and either write a bothersome item down, or do a more complete mind scan (which I then mark up with NAs and stick in my Inbox for tomorrow).

                        matt

                        http://ideamatt.blogspot.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          meditation helps

                          I've always been a person who doesn't know when to stop. SO I spent hours at night writing instead of sleeping. But the problem is the mind needs some rest. And when you dump things off your mind you also feed it with new ideas while writing them down or recording them. It means you focus your mind on them just before you want to go to sleep and so they become more present and dominant.
                          So you will not have a good sleep, because you have activated your brain.
                          I started to do meditation and relaxation techniques before going to sleep. My motto is that if something is good then it will still be there the next day. I just trust it. And so far it worked.

                          michael
                          www.i-love-personalized-gifts.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I find if I do a brain dump and read for about 15 minutes before I go to bed this keeps me from coming up with random thoughts. It purges my mind of stuff and fills it with something else.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I do a brain dump right before I leave the office.
                              That way, when I get home I am all there for the family and for my own relaxation.

                              Sometimes a nagging thought hits me right before bed.

                              I put it on a sticky note and put the note by my cell phone and keys, so I can sleep secure that I will see it in the morning.

                              I don't actively and creatively try to brain dump before bed. The dump is just in case there is something on my mind that is going to interfere with sleep.

                              Writing that one thing down allows me to forget about it, and trust that I will see it in the morning.

                              David

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