The metaphor I like to use for this whole mess is a traffic jam. In a lot of ways, your mind is dealing with a fair amount of congestion— all the ideas you have are cars that are not only gridlocked and trying to pass each other, but also, the jam is so bad you might not even be sure what direction you need to go.
So you need a parking lot.
I first heard the phrase of a parking lot used in this way, when I was leading a workshop on productivity and organization. One of the participants used the phrase in reference to a running document she had to place her ideas. I realized that it was a great analogy to build off of, in thinking about our minds as traffic jams. These cars can include the ideas of future projects, the numerous tabs on your browser (guilty), the articles you said you'd read (also guilty), and the list continues. You need somewhere to put it because these cars are taking of valuable space in your mind and in trying to remember and hold them, you have less space to think about whatever you need to write (such as your dissertation).
But not all garages are the same. Here are three things I've learned:
When I was writing the dissertation, I had 2 parking lots: one that was specifically related to the dissertation (like when I came across an article I thought would be great for the implications), and another that was my general parking lot. I certainly didn't have the maintenance to take care of more than those two, so props to you if you can. The bottom line: have a place to store your ideas because they, like you, are brilliant~
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