managing self

#blogjune Day 15 – from muddled to clarity in 15 minutes

I have 15 minutes before dinner is ready. Fiance is cooking tonight. I’ve just arrived home from work and barre class. I’ll be feeling it in the glutes tomorrow morning. But right now, I have 15 minutes and a glass of wine.

I had so many ideas running through my head all day for today’s #blogjune post. I could write about this and that. But do I have brain power to do xyz topic justice? The result: one muddled brain.

A muddled brain can be unravelled using this one technique – the 15 minute free write.

The 15 minute free write is something I do to go from muddled with a heap of things on the brain, to clarity and a way forward.

I’m not going to unload my muddled thoughts here. But I share this little technique as a reminder to us all that sometimes all we need to do is ‘talk it out’. Or in this case, write it out.

I do the 15 minute free write about twice a week. It is easy to overlook a task so simple, yet powerful in breaking down productivity or writing roadblocks. It is easy to just try moving forward and hope for the best. This approach rarely works for me. I have to stop myself from muddling my thoughts up any further and do the free write. The 15 minute free write is a pause and ultimately a safe space to unload the things that are bothering you, wade through the seaweed to see the target on the horizon and the task at hand.

There is no judgment with the free write. There is no pressure to write the right things. Just write whatever is on the mind. The thoughts don’t have to be in any particular order, or in any order at all. I’ve had sessions (and diary entries) that jump from one thing to the next and back again. This is part of the process. Let it go.

So, what could I have written about tonight?

Well, they’re half-baked ideas at this stage.

  • Life in chapters and identifying what each chapter teaches us
  • Elements of my ideal workspace – I’ve recently designed and started to put together my workspace at home
  • Taking a holistic approach to professional development planning – keeping all life areas in mind when career and PD planning
  • I want to write a book. Non-fiction. Tips?
  • A ‘robocop’ (hip replacement) anniversary



Doing the 15 minute free write

What you’ll need:

  • 15 minutes
  • a piece, or pieces of paper or a notebook
  • a pen
  • a muddled brain

Alternatively, you could go the ‘tech’ route and use a blank document on a laptop or computer. I personally, like the pen and paper option. I tend to work out my ideas on paper, then work with those ideas on the laptop. I rarely go the laptop without an idea formed. (This is one of those rare times.) This might sound weird, but I feel the laptop is sometimes my ‘professional space’ and ‘on show’ space. Even if I’m by myself. The pen and paper can handle my messiness better. I can keep writing and the worst I can do is put a line through what I’ve written. On the laptop, the ‘delete’ button is too easy and tempting to use in getting something out perfectly.

The rules of the 15 free write
  1. Write continuously for 15 minutes.
  2. Don’t stop.
  3. Write whatever comes to mind.
  4. Don’t judge what comes out. No deleting or scratching out.
  5. If 15 minutes isn’t enough, keep going until you have a way forward and/or clarity on what you’re doing.

So there you have it. A simple technique for going from muddled to clarity in 15 minutes.

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