May 20

Much of the stress we experience as creative pros has less to do with the work itself, and more to do with the weight of all that’s left undone. This weight is always with us, even when we’re not working. We’re stressed about letting things slip through the cracks. We’re stressed about all the ideas we need but don’t yet have.

One effective technique for mitigating this stress (that I learned from author David Allen) is called a “mind sweep”. You simply freewrite all the commitments, tasks, topics, and ideas that are weighing on you. It might take some time—twenty to thirty minutes—to really capture most of what’s on your mind, but once you’re finished, you’ll have much of what’s actually stressing you out right there on paper.

“But wait,” you say. “Won’t seeing all that just make me more stressed?” Actually, no. Much of the stress has less to do with the tasks you need to accomplish than your fear of not having the time to accomplish them. Having it all on paper in front of us can somehow—mysteriously— make the workload feel much more manageable. And once you have it all on paper, you can organize it, plan for it, and make meaningful progress.

A mind sweep can clear your mind and open new pathways of creative thought.


Could you benefit from a mind sweep right now? Take twenty minutes in the next week to do one.

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