Do you have trouble organizing your thoughts and ideas?
Would you like to be able to set everything straight, in a clear, and logical fashion?
In this post, I offer a few simple steps to organize a jumbled mass of thoughts.
Capture your thoughts and ideas.
What’s the first step in organizing your thoughts?
Why, collecting them, of course! It doesn’t matter whether you’re organizing thoughts, or physical materials, you need to be able to hold, or collect the items you want to organize.
That being said, choose your preferred method of capturing thoughts.
You could type out items in a text editor or word processing document, or write ideas on a piece of paper, in a notebook, or on index cards.
Go ahead and take as much time as you need to get everything out of your head, and onto the screen or a piece of paper.
Look for patterns.
Now that you’ve amassed a collection of thoughts, it’s time to look for some patterns. Don’t overly concern yourself with whether or not the patterns are “correct,” or “right.” You’ll have plenty of time later to adjust these patterns. At this point, you are just trying to find general similarities, or likenesses between your thoughts and ideas.
When it comes to finding patterns, well, the sky’s the limit! Just take a few moments to sit, and look at your list of thoughts and ideas. Don’t force it, just sit, and look. Within a couple of moments, you should be able to see some rough patterns. When you do, take a couple of notes about the types of patterns you find.
Having a tough time sorting through your list? You might consider whether your thoughts and ideas have similar:
Timing – Does the thought or idea relate to the past, present, or future?
Structure – Does the thought or idea stand alone, or is it part of a bigger idea?
Location – Does the thought or idea relate to any sort of physical location or environment?
Materials – Does the thought or idea relate to any particular material, or materials?
People – Does the thought or idea only concern yourself, or does it concern, or relate to other people? If so, whom? Is it family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, colleagues, clients, customers, acquaintances, etc.?
Separate and sort thoughts.
Once you’ve found some patterns, it’s time to start sorting. The best way to do this is to start broadly, and work your way down to more detailed thoughts and ideas.
What’s a broad thought or idea? It’s something that can house at least five other thoughts or ideas. You can think of a broad thought as a type of container for all those other thoughts.
Now, look at your list, and see if you can come up with at least three broad thoughts. Give these broad thoughts unique names, and begin to drop each and every one of your thoughts or ideas under these categories.
Once you’ve sorted your thoughts, you may decide to complete this process two or three more times to further refine your list.
Take a moment to review your work.
At this point, you should have a good working list of thoughts and ideas. Take a minute or two to review your work. Are there some thoughts or ideas that should be moved to other places in your list? Are there some items that should be removed from your list entirely? Make any edits as necessary.
Is your list still looking a bit jumbled, confusing, and overwhelming to you? Tuck away your collection, and wait a few days before reviewing it once again. You’ll come back to your work with a fresh eye. Repeat the separating and sorting process as needed.
How about you? What methods do you like to use when it comes to organizing your thoughts? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!