Do you hear voices in your head? Everyone does. You have the voice of your Conscience, the voice of your Inner Critic, the voice of your Fear and, if you’re doing things right, the voice of your Creativity.
But there’s another voice, in fact a chorus of voices, which can drown out all of the above and make it downright impossible to have an internal conversation. These are the voices of your Internal To Do List.
Let me tell you, once these guys get going, your mind can turn into a veritable cacophony very quickly.
“Send that letter to Aunt Phyllis.”
“E-mail boss about yesterday’s meeting.”
“Pick up kids at 3:30.”
“Tonight we’ll have stir fry. Tomorrow spag bog.”
“Buy sugar, milk, apples, peanuts, flour, toothbrush for William, dog food, beef mince.”
“Buy credit for your phone.”
“Pick up kids at 3:30. Don’t forget!”
Soon these items become a chant, constantly resurfacing in your mind. The little ‘To Do Men’ worry you’ll forget something if you don’t hear the list often enough, so they say it over and over and over again.
Meanwhile, you and your Creativity are trying to have a conversation which may just change the total focus of your latest creative project, but he/she can’t finish a sentence without the chorus chanting, “Dog biscuits” and “William’s toothbrush.” And as anyone who has been interupted multiple times while trying to explain their Master Plan knows, this is infuriating.
I’ve tried everything, from gagging the chorus to distracting them with Mexican salsa (the eatable and dancing variety). They chant through it all.
The worst part is, even if I do succeed in shutting them up, half an hour later I’m in big trouble because now the list has been forgotten. It blows my mind that dog biscuits and phone credit are of earth shattering, forehead-slapping importance in your world, but there it is.
So, the end result is: Your Creativity is completely out of options and the only person who can solve this problem is you. But fear not. The solution is so simple.
Write a List
All you need is a pen and paper, although you can use an iPhone app, a computer widget, the palm of your hand, the whiteboard on your wall, the forehead of a spouse…but pen and paper works just fine.
Every time you hear the chorus start to chant a list item – “Cut your toenails before shoe shopping.” – write it down!
The simple act of recording a physical list takes all the stress out of the chorus. They see their words of wisdom have been heard, they figure that the job of remembering is in your court now, and they pop back into the recesses of your mind to watch World Cup reruns.
What you do with the list is entirely up to you. Most people lose it, and then lament the absence of their chorus. But others find lists work very well. (It’s true. Stephen says!)
So why not give it a go? If it gives you and your Creativity a little more private discussion time, then it’s worth it.