I will finish February, Time Management month, with this exercise shared with me in a workshop.  

In the workshop, we discussed ways to prepare for a meeting or presentation.  

The trainer gave strategies for preparing in Body, Mind, and spirit (emotional). 

The exercise I want to share with you today was meant to help your mind and spirit.   It is a strategy that could be used when you are feeling distracted by everything in your mind or when you have a problem or challenge that takes up a lot of space. 

It’s hard to be present to facilitate, coach, or present when you feel distracted by the thoughts in your head.  I find it’s even hard to get into flow when my mind is racing.  

The strategy.

It’s simple. 

Grab a piece of paper and a pen.  Set a timer for 5 minutes. 

For 5 minutes, keep that pen on the paper and write out everything filling your head.  Write down everything you think you have to do, every problem bouncing around, and every challenge distracting you. 


Then, when the 5 minutes is up, put your pen down and fold the paper in half. 

Now you have a choice, put the paper aside and grab it after the meeting, presentation, or event is over.  Or shred it/burn it/rip it up – decide to let it go. 

That’s it.  

It made sense because this is one of the strategies I recommend to help with overwhelm.  Often we feel overwhelmed because we are holding too much in our minds, and getting it out can help relieve the burden.  

However, when dealing with overwhelm, we must deal with the list.  In this case, we are deciding to temporarily park it to focus on the task at hand or let it go.  


Another way to use it.

The trainer then shared how this strategy could also be used when facilitating a group. 

For example, she shared a story about how before an all-day event, she led a room full of executives through this exercise.  The trainer admitted that she expected the room to find it a silly exercise but did it anyway.  

At the end of the exercise, she invited the room to put the paper away, or they could shred it (she had a shredder in the room).  To her surprise, many chose to shred their lists.  

She then instructed the room that at any time during the event/day, if they felt distracted by something, to pull out a piece of paper, write it down, fold it, and make a decision.  

All day, people would periodically get up to shred their papers. 

They explained that it was freeing to release or park the distraction.

How you can use this strategy

This strategy was shared with us as a way to help us, as facilitators, prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally.  However, the exercise is so simple and powerful that it can be used whenever we need to focus and cannot because our mind is a little too loud. 

It could be a way to get to sleep or get the calm we need before writing content or before doing strategic planning.  

In the morning, once I sit at my desk, I answer three questions before I start working.  One of those questions is: “what do I need to let go of?”  I like this question because I can decide to let go of anything I’m hyper-focusing on (usually critically).

This exercise is a step up because the idea of shredding that thing I need to let go of has a more permanent feel.  

Have you ever done something like this?  Will you try it? 


The mind is like water. When it’s trubulent, it’s difficult to see. When it’s calm, everthing becomes clear.

Prasad Mahes

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