Have you experienced runaway right brain? It’s a term that I coined years ago. It describes an annoying occurrence that I experience quite often. It goes like this. You are doing something that is routine but important like housework or exercise. All of a sudden you discover that you’ve stopped that task and moved on to something else.
It takes off in an instant
I was doing my strength training routine on the Monday before Christmas. I do squats, lunges and some arm exercises with dumbbells. I don’t enjoy strength training but I believe it will help me stay strong as I get older. I was doing leg exercises when my eyes landed on the Christmas cards that were on an end table. Some of the cards were standing up, others had fallen over and still others were the photo type that had to be propped up. Staring at that disordered card display caused my right brain to take flight.
I remembered seeing a post by my Facebook friend Sue Painter. She had displayed her Christmas cards on a fabric and ribbon bulletin board. I loved that idea. I was in the middle of squats when I decided that I should do something with my Christmas cards. I thought “I don’t have a display board but I can use painters tape and stick them on the wall in the foyer.”
A simple cue will stop it
I went to the kitchen with my stack of cards and was about to get the blue tape out of a drawer when I spotted the clock on the stove. “OH NO!” I had written down my start time when I began my work-out. That clock jerked me into reality. I dropped the cards on the kitchen table and returned to my work-out. I started timing my work-outs last year to prove to myself that strength training really doesn’t take forever. The habit of recording a start and end time saved my workout.
After my work-out was completed, I taped the cards to the wall in the stairwell of our split-foyer. That little project only took a couple of minutes. It looks so much better than the haphazard display on the table. The card signed by my granddaughter brings a smile to my face every time I climb the steps. Yes, the cards are still on the wall and it is well into January.
Take the test
This story is a prime example of runaway right brain. Science tells us the right side of our brain controls our creativity and intuition and the left side controls our bodies during administrative or routine tasks. According to this test my left and right sides are almost balanced. That is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I feel like my creative side and my organized analytical side are playing tug of war.
I don’t have trouble staying on task when I am enjoying what I do. I have had clients tell me that I keep them focused when working on organizing projects. It is when I am feeling bored or when the task is routine that I suffer from runaway right brain. I know that many of you are super creative. I completely understand why you want to runaway when working on organizing projects.
Some tactics to keep you on track
- Timer – Seeing the clock in the kitchen helped me get back on track. I’m going to buy a simple kitchen timer and set it where I can see it when I’m doing my work-out.
- Use note cards – I’m not saying that we should try to stop the creative thought. It makes us who we are. We need a way to capture ideas when they come at us. I like to jot notes on index cards so putting a stack of cards and a pen next to the timer might be a good idea.
- Use recording tools – I get some great ideas when walking. Recently I have used the voice to text option in Evernote for capturing thoughts on the go. I have also sent myself voice mail messages when writing isn’t an option. The point is to capture the idea so that you finish that important task.
- Set your GPS – I have even discovered a way to curtail runaway right brain while I’m driving. I have a Garmin GPS that is wonderful for finding new destinations. It is also useful for keeping me on track when driving to somewhere familiar. Setting my destination and clicking GO keeps me focused. I especially like the estimated arrival time that shows on the display.
Do you suffer from run-away right brain? Share your stories in the comments. I’d love to read them.