Chapter 3, last day, day 3. We discussed the first 3 phases of natural planning (Purpose & Principles, Vision/Outcome and Brainstorming). Today, we’ll continue discussing Brainstorming, as well as Organizing and Next Actions.
When you do your external brainstorming in a trusted practice/format, such as recording for later evaluation, or on several index cards spread out around your core idea or project, or scribbled out on a chalkboard, penned on a legal pad or whiteboard or generated in a computer mind mapping document, you will have a way of producing more thoughts and ideas about the particular project, and more is better. You can weed out the unnecessary stuff later. The idea about brainstorming is to get it ALL (no matter how silly or insignificant you may think it is) out of your head and onto a visual playing field so you can better decide how to go forward. Seeing it all laid out in front of you is the best way to figure out what’s next. This process is labeled “distributed cognition” if you need a label.
Don’t worry about writing or saying the wrong thing when brainstorming. If you worry so much about what critics think, this will stifle your creative flow. It’s like a photographer snapping pictures consistently to get that one good shot. There are plenty of out-of-focus shots and some that are just not visually aesthetic, but it shouldn’t stop the photographer from snapping those shots to get that one perfect picture – a prize winner! This is the same process with brainstorming. Write all those thoughts and ideas down, no matter how stupid someone else (including yourself) may think they are. That “weak” idea may jog your memory to a more creative idea. Use it! You can scribble out or erase the “weak link” or idea later on if it is of no use within your map of project ideas. “The primary criterion must be expansion, not contraction.” Love that.
IV. Organizing. (I thru III were in Day 7, remember?) This process comes after brainstorming. You take all that you’ve mapped out or written down and you “identify components and subcomponents, sequences or events, and/or priorities. What are the things that must occur to create the final result? In what order must they occur? What is the most important element to ensure the success of the project?” This is the next step in the creative process.
After you have organized your ideas in some sort of format and order, we go on to the Next Actions–the final stage of the natural planning process. If your project is one that needs action, this is where you make those decisions. Write out the actions that need to take place for each project in order to move it forward toward completion. If you aren’t ready to decide those actions, you have unfinished business when it comes to fleshing out your project in one of the prior steps of this planning sequence, whether it be defining your purpose and principles, your vision/outcome, brainstorming or organizing. If you want to see your project through, keep each action moving toward the next until it’s done. Keep the parts moving like clockwork. Do one action, then the next, then the next, until you are done. Some projects can be done at the same time, depending on how much time you have to produce work or action for each item. You want all of your current projects to move forward or they may become stale. Depending on how time sensitive it is or how important it is to you will determine the time and action you put into it. If the particular project is not needed to be complete now, you can put it on a back burner for later and work on your more immediate projects. Just put it in a reminder or Projects file that you will review regularly so you won’t forget about it entirely.
Mr. Allen says that “merely having the ability to be highly productive, relaxed, and in control doesn’t make you that way. Most people can use a coach–someone to walk you step by step through the experience and provide some guideposts and handy tricks along the way, until your new operational style is elegantly embedded.” This is in Part 2 and that begins tomorrow. Could you use a coach? I sure could! I would love to have someone coaching me through this, step-by-step. Remember how attention-deficit I am? I need help. Mental. Physical. Etc. 😉
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 (Practicing Stress-Free Productivity). Part 2 consists of Chapters 4-10. Chapter 4 begins it with Getting Started: Setting Up the Time, Space, and Tools. This chapter will take 1 or 2 days to complete.
It’s a beautiful sunshiny Sunday! Awesome weather we are having out there–at least, in Mississippi, today. Loving these temperatures. It feels like Spring has sprung. I know we are in for more cold snaps, dangflabbit! I actually love Winter, but we’ve had a really harsh one, so I’m ready for me some Spring. Ready to get my hands dirty, plant some stuff, dig in the dirt, do some trimming, etc. Make it a most auspicious, splendid Sunday. Do something enjoyable with people you care about and make time to relax a bit. Make some time today to kick back, watch a good movie, read a good book, and/or take an afternoon nap. Ah! Love those. Love you! *hug*