THIS BLOG IS TO CHART MY JOURNEY TOWARDS IMPACTING THE WORLD ONE IDEA AT A TIME. FOLLOW ALONG AS I SHARE MY EXPERIENCES AND MOMENTS OF GROWTH IN BECOMING A SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR, BRANDING MAVERICK, AND #NEXTGEN LEADER.
Published in CKW - The Chea K. Woolfolk Magazine
Considering that a portion of the Chea K. Woolfolk Magazine’s audience are aspiring entrepreneurs like myself, I thought it would be awesome to use this article to connect with other fellow entrepreneurs by sharing a little bit about my story and giving tips on how your respective hustle can grow to greatness!
One of the major issues that most small business owners face in trying to grow their business is that we commonly experience moments of extreme anxiety and overwhelm over various stressors. Whether we stress over unfinished projects, glaring deadlines, too many ideas, not enough time, or day-to-day fires that have to be taken care of, many small business owners, myself included, take on so much pressure just to stay afloat in today's economic climate.
A tool that has immensely helped me to cope with the feeling of overwhelm is an exercise commonly known as the “brain-dumping” activity. I first heard of this activity from a church member of mine that took note of my early struggle with stress and anxiety as a new entrepreneur. She showed me how she “brain-dumps” every night through journaling in her diary to release some of her mind clutter from the day. I tried doing the daily mind dump at night, which at first was very helpful. However, the information in my mind was literally being transposed to paper and forgot about after I closed my journal and went to bed. I began to realize that without going back through and organizing my thoughts, I would not gain any clarity to take action on those tasks that were swimming around in my head.
Later, after listening to a few of my regular business podcasts share how most successful entrepreneurs utilize this same exercise on a consistent periodic basis, I knew this activity was something I need to quickly learn and regularly practice myself.
Seeing that half of the year is already complete, I’ve been very intentional about reflecting on particular areas in my life and in my business. Specifically, I’ve been utilizing "brain-dumping" to help me assess these areas and increase my mental clarity. Our brains are built for solving problems, connecting ideas and creating solutions, not holding ideas and information. The problem with most of us entrepreneurs is that we keep WAY too many ideas and information in our heads which then produces the lousy feeling of overwhelm and anxiousness. Listed below are 5 steps that I take every 30-60 days to help me assess and gain clarity on how my current tasks are aligning with my vision and my business goals.
Step 1: Get rid of Distractions.First things first, when doing this activity, it is very important that you get rid of all distractions. This means putting away your phone or tablets, turning off your tv, logging off Facebook for a few minutes and giving absolute focus toward this exercise with a pen and paper.
Step 2: Write down EVERYTHING that's on your mind.I mean literally everything that has been swarming around keeping your focus preoccupied. Things that are bugging you, unresolved problems, tasks, family issues everything! The key is to get everything out so that you can then simplify and organize those thoughts into a To Do List or an Action Board. By externalizing your tasks and thoughts, they no longer have the chance to take up space in your short-term memory which in turn reduces the feeling of overwhelm.
Step 3: Categorize your tasks. Once I have all your tasks written down, the next step is to assess the effectiveness of each task and categorizing them accordingly. Here are four questions I ask myself to assess each task:
What tasks are you going to delegate?There are certain tasks that are valuable yet able to be given to someone else to accomplish. If it's not your top priority or if someone else can do it just as good as you or better, delegate it.
What things are you going to get rid of?If any of your tasks not congruent with your goals or values. If it's not adding to revenue, reach or protect your lifestyle. Anything that you can’t control, is just taking up brain space that makes no difference in your life.
What items do I need to put on my schedule?Anything that you want to get done in the near future, you need to schedule them in the next couple of weeks. Most tasks that can be phenomenal game-changers for our business just simply stay in our head and never get executed. For those tasks that are essential, high-earning tasks, literally put them on your calendar to do them so that they don’t stay in your head unfinished or never accomplished. What things do you need to take action on today?
Items that someone else controls or that you’re waiting on.Most things that swim around in our head are the unresolved deadlines where we have to wait on other people to have an end result of some kind. In order to reduce delay and overwhelm on these type of tasks, email or text the other person with a deadline or timeline.
As a young entrepreneur, this exercise has helped me countless times before. It helps me assess what people, projects, things, and ideologies are beneficial and/or detrimental to my progress and growth. Of course, my beginnings as an entrepreneur was never this strategic nor was it as action-focused. My story started from just a student-athlete that was a marketing major who taught herself some design skills and periodically did projects on the side.
Lewis Howes (former athlete, serial entrepreneur & NYT best selling author of School of Greatness) has one of the best definitions of greatness that I have ever heard. He defines greatness as, “…discovering and cultivating the unique gifts and talents we were born with to live our dreams to the fullest, and make the maximum impact on people around us and the world by living those dreams.” I believe this definition is a direct reflection of how I began my journey as an entrepreneur and why I wake up everyday motivated to continue the journey. My gifts of creativity and design is what led me to find my passion for branding and marketing in college. And although I have always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur, it wasn’t until I realized that I could creatively align my gifts and passions with my core values of developing and impacting others all at the same time that I knew, this is what I was made for.
I created Greater Works Design Studio to help build brands that impact others and/or invest in people. My vision is to help others grow to greatness within their own lives and in their business so that the maximum impact can be given the world. This is my mission, this is the “why” behind my brand. And as my journey unfolds, this mission will be expressed and executed in various innovative ways and facets in the near future!!!
“Brain-dumping” ensures that my tasks and ideas align with my vision. My hope that this activity can be just as beneficial to you as it has been an absolute game-changer for me! Most successful entrepreneurs don't just do exercises like this when they are overwhelmed. In fact, they actually make this a regular practice as a way to keep their goals and objectives aligned to their overall vision. I challenge you to try this exercise for yourself and experience how this can help you remove some of the information clutter in your mind to relieve some of that overwhelm and gain more clarity on your journey towards greatness.
Raechele Janiece Gray CEO / Mediapreneur / Branding Expert / Business Coach / Speaker