Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Clear Mind to Happiness

I have a long commute to work. The drive used to be really stressful for me until I stumbled upon this nugget that changed my commute (and my life in some ways). While I'm driving, I tend to think about all the things I need to get done, when I get to work, or when I get home. I also remember those important things, like my mom's birthday is coming up, or that I promised to send a friend in need contact information for a great attorney, and other things that I really need to remember. The problem is, while I was driving, there wasn't much I could do about all the important information percolating up from the depths of my multitasking Menagerie Mind and I'd stress out that I was going to forget the information that my conscious mind had just captured. It caused my commutes to be stressful and overwhelming because I ended up feeling overloaded with all the things I needed to get done, and anxious that I wasn't going to remember it all.

That all changed a while ago, but I didn't really think about how important that change was to my psyche until I was hanging out at WineStyles after work with friends last week. We were talking about the stress caused by our never ending To-Do lists, and came upon the idea that sometimes just capturing those To Do's when you remember them is therapeutic. By capturing the To Do, writing it down, you give your conscious mind permission to let it go, to stop dwelling on it, so that you can move on to other things and not get wrapped in anxiety trying to remember that important tidbit. But while you're driving, you ask?

My first PDA with a voice recorder did the trick. Every time I'd think of something I needed to do or remember, I'd hit the record button and capture it. "Buy bathroom vanity light bulbs!" "Make vet appointment for vaccinations." "Send birthday card to Mary." Over time, it changed from my PDA to my cellphone. And now it's Jott on my iPhone which automatically converts my verbal recordings into text (how cool is that?!?) AND ties into Toodledo (for a fee) to put the item into the correct category within my web-based To Do list which is then accessible by phone or computer anywhere with phone network reception or Internet access.

It's amazing that once I've captured those important things, my mind feels satisfied, and I can mentally move on to other things. I don't feel the stress or anxiety that used to plague my commutes because of this great little technique. Of course, you also have to DO the things you've captured (procrastination will be another blog entry, if I don't procrastinate too long) or the stress will still rear it's ugly little head. But you get the idea. One more step toward happiness! Cool, now I check off my Toodledo item: Pay some attention to your Blog! CHECK!!!

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