I am increasingly convinced I am losing my mind.

While one may mistakenly interpret the previous conclusion, the hard facts are no longer debatable. The noises residing inside my head are taking over. And my only defense seems to be the noble act of making lists.

Yes, lists. Picture independent entries hand-written on a scrap piece of paper. Literally an analog solution resurrected in a digital world.

Entries are brief and to the point, ominously beckoning to cross them out, putting them out of their misery. No entry wants to be left behind.

The noises in my head are not imagined. Research in 2011 said our brains consume five times the amount of information consumed per day than in 1996. Since then, I’ve added social media to my life, my cell phone is rarely beyond reach, and there is a crazy device in the house answering my questions. No wonder my brain acts like a bag of microwave popcorn at the one-minute mark — indiscriminately shooting kernels in all directions.

Today, I am armed and doing battle against the machine of distraction with a lead pencil and piece of paper. While not glamorous, the old-school solution is changing my life for the better, and the result is that I am happier between the ears.

Getting started is easy — find a piece of paper and a writing instrument of choice. I prefer a pencil for the visceral feel of lead on paper. Paper, too, is a personal choice. At home, I am keen on the 3-by-5 lined cards sold in those cellophane packages. Lines make me happy.

The first step is to begin. Put your tools in an open area where you can get to them before a thought is flushed from your brain by an oncoming train of thought. Running is an acceptable tactic when necessary — don’t count on your mind to remember later. Again, this is a battle you must win.

Secondly, reward yourself by crossing out your accomplishment. After stroking through the letters, step back and let the moment wash over you. You’ve earned your victory — and freed up brain space.

Third, come to terms with your new friend. Commit to the long-term with your new friend, understanding your shared dependency will make you a happier person. The simple acceptance and practice will dramatically reduce the number of haunting moments — the ones where you get home from the grocery store and realize you forgot the item you initially set off to get.

I love my lists. I now manage my work life with a small journal and keep my weekend list on 3-by-5 cards. And I only write in pencil. Nothing feels better than looking at a long list with dark graphite scratched horizontally across each entry.

My brain might be getting taxed. I may be reaching the limits of ability to effectively process massive amounts of sensory input. But so long as I have a pencil and paper, I’ll be able to hold onto my mind.

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

President & Publisher

(5) comments

Victor Krc

You have been reading my (e)mail. The Luddites were onto something. If we ever lose our power grid we are toast. Now if I could stop misplacing my lists...

George Croix

Been taking flak for my habitual use of checklists for, oh, about since birth....
Noticed on Christmas eve Daughter trying to hide one from me as SHE checked hers off...
Makes a Dad proud......[wink]
Her retort was I'll probably want a check mark on my headstone.....
You can't beat genetics....[beam][beam]

Jarvis Buckley

I could have written that same article & im so much older than you.✌️

Charlotte O'rourke

Wasn’t it Einstein that didn’t know his own phone number and advocated not cluttering the mind with information that you can easily look up?

Here is a toast to lists and commitment for frequent data dumps to prevent brain clutter!

Steve Fouga

I prefer a rollerball pen.

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