You know, in psychology there is a rule, especially within the NLP circles that I work in and the NLP literature that I read, it is quite a famous rule 7 plus or minus 2 this is the notion that the conscious mind can only keep track of between 5 and 9 discrete pieces of information at one time. Your unconscious can literally keep track of billions and billions of things at the same time aparently (clever thing that it is!), while your conscious mind is more one step at a time and it has a fairly narrow focus. Whatever the truth of this, it is a useful way to experience your own thinking.

Here are a couple of things that you can do to test the extent of your conscious mind: Without writing them down, blurt out now, straight away without thought

- As many brands of cars as you can.

- As many film titles as you can.

- As many pop groups as you can.

I often ask people these questions on our NLP trainings. Many people run out of steam when they get to ten, usuallly because of the 7+-2 rule. The bottom line is, when the conscious mind is presented with more than 9 pieces of information, it gets overloaded. So before you send me a very clever email telling me off for pointing out the limits of the conscious mind, would you like to know how you can use this to your advantage? Of course you would.

When you bear the 7+-2 rule in mind, you can start to organise things so that you work with your conscious mind, playing to its strengths. For instance, if you have a to-do list.

Many people that I have encountered have a daily to-do list with 20 or more items on it. This is a recipe for total overwhelm (at which point they often resort to looking for the easiest or funnest thing on the list to do.) The following ideas can help you get a handle on your to-do list really fast, especially if that list has things that are important for your goals and achievements and sense of well-being.

Firstly, scan through the list, looking for items that can be grouped together into categories.

For example, here is a load of the stuff on my list for this week:

Write latest ezine article.

Bank cheques.

Finish writing chapter for new book Prepare for client therapy sessions.

Finish project on public speaking.

Finish marketing material for new courses.

FInish listening to current educational Audio set.

Read through solicitors material regarding other business project.

Write up script for new audio title.

Send out follow-up letters for last weeks clients.

Prepare for photo shoot for new Bio.

Write up blurb for my new Audio release.

Write new web-page copy.

Review new CD covers Meet PR people Do proposal for new book for Publishers.

Read e-book New course blurb Meet with prospective business artner for new project.

Clear inbox.

Have a life. Have fun......

The first thing on the list is Write ezine for me, my ezine "Adam Up" is one of my products, so I write Product beside it. Next is Bank Cheques thats part of our cashflow system, so I write Systems beside it. Pretty soon, every item on my list is in a category:

Write Adam Up: Products Bank cheques: Systems Finish writing chapter for new book: Products Prepare for client therapy sessions: People Finish project on public speaking: Personal Finish marketing material for new courses: Training Finish listening to current educational Audio set: Personal Read through solicitors material regarding other business project: Projects Write up script for new audio title: Products.

Send out follow-up letters for last weeks clients: Systems.

Prepare for photo shoot for new Bio: Marketing.

Write up blurb for my new Audio release: Marketing.

Write new web-page copy: Marketing.

Review new CD covers: Systems Meet PR people: People.

Do proposal for new book for Publishers: People.

Read e-book: Personal.

New course blurb: Marketing.

Meet with prospective business artner for new project: People.

Clear inbox: Personal.

Have a life. Have fun: Personal.

This is better! I have now gone from a list of 20 or so items (instant overwhelm) to a list of 6 categories which is well within even my 7+-2 limit.

- Products

- Systems

- Training

- Marketing

- People

- Personal This is what we refer to as chunking in the NLP field, and is one of the most effective ways of dealing with any large or complex set of tasks (or set of anything else). You may say Great, but Ive got 200 things on my to-do list. It doesnt matter the same principles apply. If you go through your to-do list or your goals lists just get it whittled down from 200 items to 20 categories, that is better, it is getting it more manageable go through the 20 categories and see where they group together. Group together goals for your own development being a non-smoker, growing in confidence, creating wealth, reducing weight etc. Within NLP, the key is to have no more than 9 categories at each level this way your conscious mind can keep track of it.

It is a simple thing that we do often anyway, NLP just heightened my awareness of it. I now do it in an NLP way.

Secondly, start to manage your to-do list by the high-level categories: You can use this in all sorts of areas to make things more manageable, for example:

- To-do lists.

- Goals you are working toward.

- The filing system on your computer.

- Your filing cabinet.

- Any project youre doing.

One of the things this allows you to do is notice very quickly if theres a specific area where you have not been taking much action lately very useful for helping focus on what needs attention.

Adam Eason is an author, consultant, trainer and motivational speaker in the fields of hypnosis , NLP, personal development and human potential . His website is filled with information, stimulating articles, resources and uniques products and can be found at his website.

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