Why Sweep? Five Reasons

iStock by Getty Images: CurrantCrescent

So many times when I’ve recommended that someone do a mind sweep, I’ve been asked the question, “Why does it matter whether it’s in your head rather than having it out of your head?” Sometimes a person will follow that question with, “Well, you know, Meggin, gosh…I have been carrying stuff around in my head for many, many years, and I’m very successful. I’m a little stressed, but I’m successful. So I actually think that works okay. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”

If you’re thinking this, too, I’m certainly not going to argue with you about whether you’ve been successful or not. I already know you have been. Let’s make note of the “stress thing” that our could-be-someone-we-know mentioned. What about being very successful and not having the level of stress that you do. Success? Big fan of it. Stress, not so much.

Let me offer these five reasons to get things out of your head and into a better system (since your head is not a system).

Reason number one, you have an amazing brain.

Your brain is meant to think, to solve, to create, and other related kind of actions. You want your brain to be as uncluttered as possible so that you can do those things. You cannot be as creative, cannot problem-solve in the way that you need to, cannot handle an incoming crisis with the same level of concentration, attention, and energy if your brain is exhausted from trying to keep up with all the things that you have committed to do.

Reason number one to get things out of your head is because you have an amazing brain and you need to free it up to do what it does best to help make you and those around you have a better life.

Second reason, if you try to hold all these different projects and to-dos and thoughts in your brain, you are calling on an extraordinary amount of your available bandwidth.

You want to free up that bandwidth so that you can devote it to other aspects of your life. Keeping everything in your head is an unnecessary waste of bandwidth, which I consider to be squandering. Given some of my values as well as the fact that I have Maximizer in my top 5 strengths, I feel very strongly about people who have so much to contribute to the world, as you do, who then squander their time, energy, and attention by doing something like trying to remember all their tasks, appointments, projects, and priorities — in their heads! To me, it’s not just, “Meh, that’s kind of wasteful.” I think it’s squandering.

Reason #2 to get things out of your head is that you do not want to squander the bandwidth you have because it is needed for other ways to make the world a better place.

Reason number three, when it’s in your head, no matter how organized your brain is, it’s still not orderly in there.

The only way that you can sort, prioritize, clarify, and make reasoned decisions about your tasks and projects is to get them out of your head and into a system. Remember, you want to be sane and sensible, rather than crazed and chaotic. Got that? Sane and sensible versus crazed and chaotic. It’s chaotic and crazed in our brain whenever we’re trying to keep up with every different thing in there.

Although Reason #1 was about how amazing your brain is, you will notice I did not indicate that your brain was amazing at prioritizing, sorting, and keeping up with cascading project plans and people. Thankfully, there are other tools that are designed for that (including pencil and paper).

So, the first step is to clear out your head using some prompts that will be provided in upcoming articles in this series. Reason #3 for getting things out of your head is that it’s not very orderly in your head, nor is it a place you can just straighten up when it’s jumbly!

Reason number four: your amazing brain will remind you of the wrong things at the wrong time as long as the only place information resides is in your head.

If you have no system, your brain is just trying to help you out and even though it’s overloaded when you haven’t emptied it, it will say, ‘Hey, I think my person might want to know that her mom’s birthday is today.’ It’s very possible that today is not the day you needed to be reminded about this. You may have needed to be reminded a week or so ago (depending on whether this is a BIG birthday or a little birthday and depending on the expectations people in your family have about birthdays). Do you need to have a present, a card, invite her over, plan something special, alert others to the birthday, or what? If you had all your birthdays and other special holidays that had an impact on you in a system so that you were reminded at the right time and knew what actions went with these special days (if any), wouldn’t that be great.

Although the example I just gave you is a time when your brain mind remind you too late, often, to be helpful, it reminds you of things too early (and often). It says things like, “Now remember, you’ve got to get your Southwest boarding pass next Wednesday, because of course you want to be in the A group.” So your brain this week starts reminding you, “You’ve got to be sure and get your boarding pass,” and you think, “Oh, yeah. I’ve got to have that A boarding pass. I don’t want to be in the middle row.” And the reminding goes on a few more times, but then, the reminding DOESN’T come at the right time because it’s not in a system and then unless your brain magically reminds you exactly 24 hours before your flight to get your boarding pass, you end up remembering (your brain reminds you) maybe 20 hours before your flight and then although you’ll get a boarding pass, you won’t get an A. You have your own examples of times where this has happened, I know.

Stress results from being reminded too early, too late, and too often. You need to be reminded at just the right time and just the right amount of times. You need to be able to sleep through the night and not have your brain reminding you of things that need to be done or that you sure hope were done (EEK!)

Reason #4 to get things out of your head and into systems is that your brain reminds you at the wrong times and in the wrong places and your systems can be set to remind you at the right times (and places).

Then, reason number five, I’m going to come back to the one I mentioned before I even specifically went into the reasons. The stress. You don’t need more.

Not once have you ever emailed me or said in a conversation, “Meggin, I’m kind of low on stress right now. I’m not sure I can function. I don’t have any stress. Could you send me some?” Maybe you’re telling someone else that and just not telling me. But I doubt it.

You don’t need more stress. You need less — at least less of the bad, injurious, life-threatening, relationship-destroying, soul-crushing, reputation-tanking, joy-sucking stress. All of those stresses come from not knowing what promises you’ve made, and then not living up to those promises (whether you are aware of them or not). That is a very costly stress, and you have options. Not that I feel strongly about any of these things, by the way.

Possibly you have a Reason #6 to add to this list. It might be something that recently happened that prompted you to be curious about the idea of a mind sweep. Or maybe it’s something you experienced because someone else you know apparently didn’t have things out of their head and it had an impact on you. Whatever it is, add it.

OK! Finally! The next article in this series is about getting your mind sweep started! Stay tuned! While you’re waiting for that article, go get your tools for a mind sweep.

Here I am the most recent day I was leading a mind sweep for about 50 people. I wore a rainbow shirt and rainbow necklace to symbolize the “arc” of how this process goes.



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

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
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