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Counting down to the official launch of Piece of Cake: 42 Simple Systems For Your Business in 3 weeks! Today I’m sharing an excerpt from the first chapter, on how to do a brain dump for better productivity. Enjoy, and I hope you take away something useful!

So the first thing I want you to do when you’re thinking about new systems for your biz is a brain dump.

“But what the heck is a brain dump?” you ask.

Well, the term is often used in computing circles to mean a complete transfer of information from one place to another. But the other type of brain dump – popularised by David Allen in his book Getting Things Done – is simply writing out everything that’s in your head, on paper.

Yes, I said on paper. Or whiteboard, blackboard, chalk on the driveway – whatever floats your boat. But write it out by hand.

Why write by hand? Because there’s something about the act of writing down your thoughts that helps to clarify things. I know this from my own experience. I can have a hundred things bouncing around in my head and feel totally overwhelmed, but as soon as I write it all down, it feels manageable. Even though I haven’t actually accomplished anything, I feel like now I CAN accomplish something.

And I reckon it’ll be the same with you. So go ahead. Grab your writing implement of choice and something to use it on, and do a brain dump.

After the Brain Dump

How are you feeling now? A little less stressed? Or are you more stressed, looking at that huge list of things you have to do?

Don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all at once, and to be totally honest, you don’t even have to do all of it yourself. I guarantee it.

The next step is to look at that list and organise it a little. Which tasks have a deadline? Which ones can you combine, or do in quick succession (such as errands)? Which ones can you delegate to someone else?

You can go crazy with different coloured highlighters (my favourite), put different bullets next to different categories of tasks, or create separate lists of tasks.

(Side note: I just did a mini-brain dump whilst writing this chapter. I wrote down four things that I was thinking about so I can remember to do them later, rather than stopping writing the book to do them now and losing my momentum!)

Once you’ve sorted your items into different categories or lists, it’s time to get to work on them. Go with the most urgent things first – like finding paperwork for a meeting you’re having tomorrow morning – and leave non- urgent things for later.

Which things did you decide to delegate? If you haven’t delegated anything, go back to the list and find something that someone else can do. Don’t argue with me! Just do it. You’ll thank me later.

Look, I know how tempting it is to try to do everything yourself. I’m kind of a DIY-er too. So I totally get the percieved extra hassle and cost to delegating or outsourcing tasks. Just ask me how long it took to finally get a house cleaner!

We’ll talk more about this in chapter 7, but trust me – you need to delegate some part of your list to someone else. You just can’t do it all on your own. Nobody can.

Before long, you’ll be crossing things off that list like there’s no tomorrow. And doesn’t it feel SO GOOD when you cross something off? It kinda makes you want to write down more things just so you can cross them off, too!

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