I started meditating fairly consistently since COVID hit the scene. It has calmed my brain. I don't do anything fancy I focus on my breath, get distracted, then refocus, or scan my body for sensations, then I get distracted. If I am on my game, I will have a thought enter my brain, and I will note that it is a thought and let go of it, or I will get a feeling, and I will note that it is a feeling and let go of it. Then I get distracted and wonder how long I have left. As you can tell, I am no professional.

Recently I finished  "Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals" by Oliver Burkeman, and it made clear that the problem is not the infinite things we could do but the things we choose to do. We have more than enough to do, so how do we escape the emotions of being overwhelmed and overtasked.

The book discusses the efficiency trap and how it can lead to more time and, therefore, more time to be more efficient. It is a fruitless exercise that leads to diminishing returns.

As a Product Manager, I deal with a lot of computer stuff, like storage space, CPUs, and RAM. This technology has its limits and capacity. Computers are good at processing things until they reach capacity. Then, they can grind to a halt. For computers, it can be easy to upgrade the processor or RAM to get more space. In other instances, simply rebooting or clearing the cache fixes the issue. The other thing I do as a Product Manager is plan, and a lot of time, my mushy brain is just like that computer. It wants a processor and RAM upgrade, but those don't exist.

Maybe I could reboot or clear the my brain cache.

Our brains are funny. It holds onto many things, and if things are still in a "Todo" status, the brain holds onto those items for dear life. They will pop up randomly or cause a panic because you forgot. The key is to do the action or delay the action for a future time. The magic of meditation is it lets your thought come and go as if you are watching cars pass on the street. They don't have control of you, they are noted, and they disappear.

But what if you don't want those thoughts to disappear. What if you want to capture them because they are exact things you should work on.

Enter my latest experiment, "Meditation Planning."

I know you are asking, "I have never heard of that." Don't Google it because Google hasn't heard of it either. Instead, it is flipping the script of Meditating. Instead of letting the thoughts disappear, the goal is to capture your plan's "Next Steps." In other words, as the action items enter your brain in between breaths, you open your eyes and place them in your task lists. It is similar to doing a body scan, but you are scanning your plan instead. Slowing down allows your brain to do what it does best. The Super Computer between your ears knows what to do, and all you need to do is give it space to listen. Below is the outline of my 25 Minute Planning Meditation.

Planning Meditation - Free your mind and Capture the important.

  • 5-Minute Task Review - Focus on all the major themes. For bonus points, write out the Major Themes.
  • 10-Minute Planning Scan - This is like a body scan. Intentionally go through your list, close your eyes and breathe. When you think of the next task, write it down. Note the task or action in your task list. After noting it, close your eyes, breathe, and go back to scanning your plan.
  • 5-Minute Make Todays Todo List - You should have a pretty good list of items.
  • 1-Minute Say "Not Today" to at least one item - You will have too much to do. So cross our at least one item. Saying "No" lets you clear out your mental cache so you can do more focused work. It is also a good habit because you can't do it all.
  • 4-Minutes Add the Todos to the Calendar - Schedule the most critical items in your calendar or time blocks for longer project tasks

As I have started doing this, I have noticed holes in the way I plan, and I am working to identify how to build systems to support it. The other unexpected outcome was my discomfort caused by a longer to-do list.

Give it a shot, and if it works, I would love to hear about it. Please email me a [email protected]