Humans are funny animals; we tend to have lots of thoughts and ideas going on in our heads at any one time.
Interestingly, many of those thoughts are actually half-formed, fuzzy, grey ‘worries’. What’s even more interesting, is that because they aren’t fully formed, you can’t really process them. And that means, they aren’t going away.
Of course, during times of additional stress, you will probably have more of these fuzzy worries wandering about your synapses, which doesn’t help anything. Especially your sleep.
Ever had the experience of lying wide awake at 2am with swirling thoughts? It’s not pleasant, and it most definitely does not help you function the next day. Which often makes you feel even more stressed and overwhelmed.
So, how do you get these fuzzy grey worries under control and your sleep back? A worry list, that’s how.
It’s really very simple. You allocate 15-30 minutes per day (work with me here, I know you don’t have any free time but this will help in the end) to do your worrying.
I like to do this either first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
Here’s exactly what you do. You write down whatever is worrying you. Doesn’t have to be specifically work related, might be work, kids, partner, sore knee, global warming or a million other things. Just write them all down.
If you’re really in a bad way, you might spend the full 30 minutes the first day just writing everything down. And that’s ok. Because the act of writing – with a pen and paper, no electronics allowed here – will help you to figure out exactly what it is that’s bugging you. Some days I find swear words and underlining makes me feel better. Some days it’s just a simple list of things.
And I should be clear, this isn’t for you to share with your team, partner, kids or anyone else. It’s just for you. So try to be truthful with yourself.
Assuming you don’t spend the full allotted time writing down your list, you then spend the rest of the time figuring out what to do about the things on your list. Sometimes that is simply going to be ‘I can’t do anything about this right now’, and that’s OK.
Sometimes the answer is bleeding obvious – so just write it on your to-do list and move on – and sometimes you will realise that this is an issue that needs further time and attention. When that happens, schedule it into your diary and spend the time required to figure it out.
The benefits of the worry list are many and varied. Firstly, you are telling yourself that you now have allotted worry time and outside of that, you are just going to get on with things.
The flow on from this is that you will probably sleep better, and therefore be more able to tackle whatever the world throws at you. And secondly, by sorting out what’s swirling around in your head, you will be able to make better decisions at work and home because you will be clearer about what’s really important to you right now.