Organizing one thought at a time

Where to Start

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If you are someone who feels totally disorganized it can be tough to sit down and see the big picture. I still have days where I feel completely overwhelmed, and that’s when I take a step back and start writing it all out in order to better categorize all of the jumbled thoughts in my head. I find that a blank sheet of paper or a white board are the best to help with these situations, but you should use whatever medium you are most comfortable with. These are the steps I take to get a clearer picture of my head.

1. Start with the basics.

Try to figure out the major components, or the “boxes”, in your life. Think about what you spend a lot of time thinking about. These don’t have to be things that stress you out, in fact it’s a good idea to write down things that make you happy as well. Don’t try to make it neat or organized just yet, for now just list the boxes.

2. Unpack the boxes.

Next, choose one box to start with, and start writing down anything that comes to mind about that topic. Try to keep your thoughts short for now. Be honest with yourself and write down anything that comes to mind. Remember that you are trying to clear your head, and in order to do that you should jot anything down.

Once you feel ready or feel that you need to move on to another topic, start unpacking another box. You can always add thoughts to previous boxes, or jump ahead if you think of something that you don’t want to forget. Even if you are jumping around in the beginning, make sure to spend time on each box individually. These topics are listed in front of you because they are important to you, so make sure you spend some time on each one.

3. Take a step back.

Put down your pencil/pen/marker of choice, and read through your thought chart. Once you have read through the ENTIRE chart, pick your pencil/pen/marker back up and add anything that you feel that you have missed. If this is your first time making a thought chart, repeat this step a few times. You’ll realize that with practice you will become increasingly thorough with writing your thoughts down the first time around, but for now add as many points as you need.

4. Sort through each box.

Now that you have unpacked all of your boxes and added most of your thoughts, start sorting through what you have. I suggest using a different color pen, or a highlighter. Use red to mark the things that are stressing you out the most. Use your favorite color (mine is green, as you can see) to point out the things that are making you happy. Use a different color (I used blue) to mark things that you want to work on or spend more time with.

The goal isn’t to categorize every single thought that you wrote down, it’s to find the ones that are on your mind the most. Whether these are stressors, positive influences, or goals, this step is meant for you to see what is actually on your mind currently.

5. Analyze your colors.

Take a look at the box whose thoughts you marked the most. Are these mainly red, your favorite color, or blue marks? Think about why this particular box has been on your mind so often. What is the main color of the thoughts within the box? Is it a mix of colors?

For me it was blogging. As I have just started this blog it has been on my mind a lot lately, and I’m anxious to see it start growing. For now it’s mainly red and blue, however next time I hope to have more green on there as well.

Look through all of the boxes, and think about why you feel this way about each category of your life.

6. Figure out your action step.

You can either continue on this chart (if any more writing fits) or start a new list (yay!) of what steps you can take to tackle each thought that is stressing you out. Don’t make huge goals and generalizations here. Think of an immediate action you can take in order to make you feel better within the next day or so. I put my action steps in yellow and orange to make them as noticeable. Next to blogging, my action step is to start writing my next post. Next to babies, my action step is to do two loads of baby laundry. The more realistic and simple your action steps are, the more likely you are to complete them, and the more likely you are to start feeling better about them.


I hope creating a thought chart helps you organize your thoughts as much as it helps me organize mine! As this blog grows, you’ll see that I use charts like these for a lot of aspects of my life. Do you have a different method? Did this help? Leave a comment below!

Peace out cub scouts,



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