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Action Memo:

This is your permission slip for distraction

Have you ever looked at your to-do list and mentally shut down? 

That’s what I did yesterday. My list was long. Epic, even. Though to be fair, when I was looking at that to-do list, I was also looking at brainstorming notes, idle opportunities, prospect possibilities and various reminders for fundraising outreach. In short, a whole lot of gremlins in a flood. 

I have a fair number of go-to tactics for when this type of overwhelm happens. Yesterday, I had to deploy several just to get back on an even keel. They included, amongst others:

➡️ Taking a walk. I do this everyday anyway and it usually clears my head enough to see what the priorities are. That didn’t work yesterday, so I…

➡️ Shut everything down and took 20 minutes to paint. Right now I’m obsessed with watercolors. Not that I’m painting anything remotely good… I mostly just move the brush around and watch the colors blend on the paper. After making some abstract mess in shades of red and yellow, I still couldn’t deal with my to-do list and I…

➡️ Geeked out for half an hour watching standup comedy on Youtube. The world needs more comedy, or at least I certainly did in that moment. Laughter, after all, is the best medicine (scientifically-proven!) In a significantly better mood, I fired up that to-do list again and…

➡️ Honestly? Said, “Fuck it” and just started crossing things off the list, undone. I figured if they were truly important, they’d get done at some point when they became urgent as well. Thus, delete-delete-delete. Afterwards, I felt much better. And, finally, I could see through the noise and determine the one thing that was actually most important. Now it’s the only thing on that to-do list of mine. 

Today’s Action Memo is more like an Inaction Memo! It’s a permission slip for distraction that will ultimately get you back on track. We all know we should take breaks, but now you’re going to detail what those breaks actually look like. 

Without further adieu….🎬!

Step 1

Grab something to document with (text doc, pen and paper, voice memo – however you take notes).

Step 2

Brainstorm a list of ways you can take a healthy time-out when you’re overwhelmed by All.The.Things. It’s important to keep these as positive and nourishing as possible. At the end of your break, you want to feel lit up and ready to go!

As a framework, you might start with:

💃🏽 Something physical that moves your body. Spontaneous dance break? Definitely. And pick out the playlist now while you’re at it.

💡 Something that will boost your brain health. It could be meditation, if that’s your jam, or an ice-cold shower, which can get some fresh blood to your brain and get those endorphins going.

🎨 Something creative to shift your perspective. The sky’s the limit with one and doodling for an hour totally counts.

🤣 Something that makes you laugh. There’s nothing quite like a good belly laugh to relieve stress and overwhelm. Perhaps list a few of your favorite comedians and bookmark their sites or your favorite performances.

🔥 Something or someone that will inspire you. I like to browse the latest TED talks for this one.

✨ Something that gives you a sense of organization. Perhaps this is cleaning off your desktop (feel free to just dump everything in a folder and mark it “For Later”.) It could be puttering, clearing out an inbox or tidying a desk drawer. Whatever gives you a feeling that everything’s back in order.

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