Mindsets to Support Your Sweeping (Travel, Surgery, Telling Others)

Meggin McIntosh
8 min readFeb 20, 2023
iStock by Getty Images: Cn0ra

It’s time in our series about mindsweeping to consider some mindsets to support your “sweeping, based on four questions that I have received when people are sweeping. You might have even sent one of them in to me! You have been a sweeping star, I know! You’re probably still surprising yourself!

Here’s a question that someone asked me after that last set of prompts:

“Travel. Just seeing that word brought up a lot of questions more than tasks. Meggin, since you have traveled so much for work over the years, what recommendations do you have for doing travel mind sweeps?”

1. Any time you wonder IF you should do a mini-mind sweep about something, you do. There’s a reason it’s on your mind and doing a brief (or sometimes not so brief) mind sweep will help to calm your mind and stop the swirling brain feeling.

2. With travel, there is the overall category of “travel” that needs its own mind sweep and then there are various sub categories that could be particular to each person. For example,

a. work as opposed to personal travel.

b. Traveling (self) and travel topics related to a spouse, parent, or child who is traveling.

c. Streamlining travel, for example, is a great item to write down on one of your cards. Over the years of traveling extensively for work, I realized after a few trips that I needed to figure out some way to travel with less overall wear and tear on my body, mind, and soul. It’s been a continuing quest over the last 15+ years and I had already seriously curtailed my travel prior to the pandemic and am unlikely to ever rev it up again (thankful for the technology that allows me to do my work of inspiring joyful work from home.

d. The main idea with this point is to think through the various categories (many of which are on the Travel prompt sheet) and see where you want to do some thinking.

3. Travel is different every single time, even if you are going to the same location, using the same airline, and staying in the same hotel. Minimize the stress of travel by doing a tiny sweep each time you get ready to go somewhere. Use resources such as checklists for packing and never assume you have everything you need. Ever. Or you’ll be wearing some interesting clothing combinations or doing without some key beauty/self-care item. Or racing around trying to shop in the middle of the night. Not that I would know anything about any of these challenges…

4. Here’s another suggestion: Use travel time FOR sweeping. I cannot tell you the number of mind sweeps I’ve done on planes and in hotel rooms. It’s a perfect time. Something gets released when you’re in a different environment and you want to be able to optimize that experience and that time. And writing on the little tiny trays that drop down on an airplane works great with index cards but there were times I couldn’t get to those (middle seat, crammed in, etc.) and I’d write on piles of napkins. Not pretty but it works for an impromptu sweep!

5. Notice challenges or problems when you travel and make note of those. If you notice a pattern of not being as productive on the road as you would like, add to your sweep,

· “Figure out how to be more productive in hotel rooms.”

· “Ask FB friends how they stay productive on the road.”

· “Decide which work is travel work and which work really isn’t.”

· All you are doing is acknowledging, “This is a problem for me. I need to figure this out.”

The mindset to note:

Any time I wonder IF I should do a mini-mind sweep, it’s a signal that it’s a perfect time to do one.

iStock by Getty Images: Dynamic Graphics

Next question: “After doing the last segment, one of the ‘Upcoming Events’ I have is surgery. Do you have advice for how you manage productivity when you are either facing surgery or healing from a serious illness or surgery?”

This is such a great question because it’s quite common that illness or surgery will have an impact on your life in some way. In some cases, it’s your own illness or surgery and in other cases it is the illness or surgery of a close loved one that you may be helping to care for or trying to figure out how to make arrangements for.

1. Acknowledge that your bandwidth for productivity is lessened whenever you are healing or preparing for illness or surgery.

2. Acknowledge that your bandwidth for productivity may be affected long after the illness or surgery and you cannot control that.

3. Learn to prioritize given that you have less energy and time to devote to your to-do and project lists (including certain people). You may even consider that this is an ideal time to get really good at prioritizing — and even setting boundaries!

4. Get better at assessing what’s possible. Generally, people have eyes bigger than their stomachs. They think, “Oh, well I’ll heal faster,” or, “It won’t be that bad,” or something along that line. And to recognize that you can throw yourself back into even a longer period of healing because you ignored taking some time.

Over 20 years ago, I had a full hysterectomy. It was full on, looked like I’d had a C-section. That might be too much information. But you need to understand it was major surgery, and I was told that I needed to take six weeks off to heal.

In my mind, I thought, “That’s ridiculous. I can’t take six weeks off.” Thoughts such as, “I’ll be so behind,” “other people might need that but I don’t,” on and on, and on, blah, blah.

I was speaking at a university and the provost and I were having lunch. Since we were friends, I told her I was getting ready to have this, and she said, “Okay. May I give you my best piece of advice?” I said, “Please do.” She said, “I was told I should take six weeks off,” and she said, “I didn’t want to. My doctor told me you may either take six weeks now and be completely healed, or you may take a year and a half to heal. Your choice.”

Well, I’ll tell you what. That hit me and I thought, “I don’t have a year and a half to be healing from this and feeling crummy.” I took the six weeks (I actually took — gasp — seven(!) and when I came back I hit the ground running as if nothing had ever happened. So that was the best advice I’d ever gotten.

The mindset to write down here:

My body, mind, and soul all need healing time from illness and surgery, whether I’m the patient or someone I care for is the patient.

iStock by Getty Images: Meshcheryakovova Irina

Question 3: How many cards am I likely to end up with after I go through all these prompts and activities you are giving us?

Short answer. A lot.

Long answer. A helluva lot.

You could easily end up with 150–750 individual cards, discrete items on a list you’re making, to-dos on your mindmap, or however you are compiling what you’re coming up with. There will be future articles in the series about, “Now what?!” For now, the number you’re generating means that your beautiful mind can start to relax and calm down.


The large number of items I’m generating mean that my mind is getting decluttered and ready for mindful motion on what matters most.

iStock by Getty Images: John Howard

Question 4: “Should I tell anyone I’m doing this?”

YES! Getting your mind clear and decluttered is a major aspect of being a grown up, owning what you’re committed to, and setting yourself and those around you up for success. I would tell the people who will be affected by your mind sweep directly first. If you have an assistant or a close collaborator, tell that person first because it is likely that they will receive some of the ideas you’re coming up with or want to take part in the fun, too!

Family members — you know them well — so figure out who to tell and how to tell them. Frame it in the way that they will best be able to hear the good news (knowing that they might not be excited at first since they don’t really know how the new “my mind is free and clear and we’re going to get busy around here” persona will impact them).

If you have a boss, let them know what and why you’re conducting a mind sweep and indicate that you’d like to share some of your insights and awareness. In nearly every case, that person will be pleased because that’s why you were hired — for your brain — and you’re clearly going to be able to use it better now that you’re not using it to “remember” things but rather to move forward on what matters most.

If you have a coach, talk to that person because generally, coaches have the background to be able to help you sort through the mass of what is resulting from your sweep. If you don’t have a coach, there are many excellent ones out there (including me, if I may say so, but I am completely full right now). Find one. I’m happy to make recommendations (see http://MegginRecommends.com for a list, for example).

Mindset to make note of:

Telling people about the freedom coming from my mind sweep will give them more confidence in me and my talents.

To review and you’re encouraged to make note of these somewhere that you’ll see them:

Mindset #1: Any time I wonder IF I should do a mini-mind sweep, it’s a signal that it’s a perfect time to do one.

Mindset #2: My body, mind, and soul all need healing time from illness and surgery, whether I’m the patient or someone I care for is the patient.

Mindset #3: The large number of items I’m generating indicates that my mind is getting decluttered and ready for mindful motion on what matters most.

Mindset #4: Telling people about the freedom coming from my mind sweep will give them more confidence in me and my talents.

iStock by Getty Images: gguy44



Meggin McIntosh

Meggin McIntosh, “The PhD of Productivity®”, invests time & energy with people who seek ways to be overjoyed instead of overwhelmed. https://meggin.com