Is there a look that your face defaults to when you have a lot on your mind? Mine must be a combination of looking concerned and sad, but that’s also the look when I’m not thinking about anything. It’s just what I look like when I’m not thinking about putting on a good face or emoting any kind of feeling. The more I think about it, that’s probably how my face looks in general unless I am overcome by some kind of different emotion. When I’m wearing that face that accompanies either nothing or a lot being on my mind, someone will inevitably say, “Are you ok?” It’s usually my wife, but sometimes it’s a close friend who pops that question.

My response is usually the equivalent of, “I’m fine.” I know that’s the most common lie that people say these days, but it’s generally the truth. I really am fine. I’m just either in one of those moments when I’m not thinking about anything or there is so much on my mind that I don’t realize my face has defaulted to that look like everything is not fine.

As I write this, my face is probably in that default state and the current state of my mind is that there is a lot swirling around. So I am going to attempt something I haven’t done before. I’m going to try to organize all of my swirling thoughts into categories. If you’re reading this, that means this exercise was helpful and I decided to actually post it so that it might help you. If you’re ever overwhelmed by the amount of things on your mind, writing it all down could help a lot.

Things I’m concerned about.

These things can build anxiety, tension, fear, or a sense of being overwhelmed if I dwell on them too long. They might also be things that I’m afraid to share with people (including my wife) because I don’t want them to feel overwhelmed or anxious. I randomized the order because I don’t want to imply any kind of prioritization.

  • My weight
  • Getting a quote for fence repair at home and how my landlord will handle that
  • Family finances
  • When will we get our tax return?
  • Re-applying to finish my Mdiv
  • Only having one car at home
  • My best friend and his family and the potential of them moving away
  • My other best friend in a difficult season
  • Upcoming doctor appointment
  • My daughter’s wedding
  • My son’s balance of school and work
  • My other son’s navigation of his mid-teen years
  • The mental health of everyone in my family
  • My work friend who helps me stay on track being gone on maternity leave
  • Seemingly random issues with our church live stream
  • Creepers, phishers, and potentially unstable people who post comments on our church Facebook posts
  • Figuring out how to move into a rent-to-own agreement for the home we are renting
  • Sleep issues
  • The health of my friends who are “more seasoned” in life
  • The health of my mom and my in-laws
  • The state of our nation and economy
  • The condition of California politics
  • My friendships – am I overbearing or not engaged enough – what’s the right balance?
  • Recruiting and training people to serve on the worship team (both on stage and in tech)
  • The handful of people I have met with recently or counseled

Things I need to get done

Some items are one-offs that I haven’t gotten done yet; others are recurring tasks. I think everyone knows what a task list is, so no need to over-explain.

  • Film church announcements
  • Measure section of fence that needs repairs
  • Clean the Blackstone
  • Finish editing preaching clip from a couple weeks ago for Pastor
  • Re-apply to seminary and register for last 3 classes
  • Put clean laundry away
  • Clean parts of the smoker
  • Plan songs for this Sunday
  • Email Resi about streaming issue
  • Clean up office
  • Organize garage
  • Organize and purge around the house
  • Clean out the fridge
  • Order water filter
  • Contact worship leaders for Men’s Camp
  • Read the dozen books on my reading stack
  • Change guitar strings
  • Prep for worship leader meeting
  • Order power adapter for lobby speaker
  • Submit budget for travel to summer retreat
  • Expense report (not currently, but will have another one coming soon)
  • Learn and implement new Multitracks tools
  • Write guidelines and processes for handling spam, phishing, and quarantined emails
  • Get passport
  • Schedule bloodwork
  • Plan family dinners and grocery shop
  • Shift autopay bills based on budget outlook for the month
  • Practice worship songs
  • Practice leading worship with a choir
  • Finish AVL Manual
  • Write guide for family if something were to happen to me (processes and accounts and everything that I handle)
  • Write guide for church if something were to happen to me (processes and accounts and everything that I handle)
  • Reschedule some of the upcoming announcements recordings
  • Get quote for church merch
  • Edit Hearts Being Healed video
  • Schedule tech coverage for three events
  • List camera for sale to replace with different camera
  • Finish running SDI lines under stage
  • Plan and pitch idea for camera director booth
  • Schedule worship team gathering (on stage and tech)
  • Grocery shopping for Hearts Being Healed
  • Cook soup for Hearts Being Healed
  • Prune and trim back trees and bushes around the house
  • Build vegetable garden
  • Pressure wash patios, sidewalks, and driveway
  • Repair popup camper
  • Fix smog issue on the Pilot, get it smogged, and registered
  • Get Isaiah glasses
  • Pay medical bills
  • Pay for summer camp
  • Get son registered for drivers ed
  • Build a link-tree

Other ideas

These are ideas of things I could potentially do, things I’m doing now that take up time, and things I would like to do. But they all mesh together in my mind. These are things that I don’t necessarily need to do and it wouldn’t be an issue if I never get around to them. Some of them have the potential to create income. Others are a form of creative outlet. What they all have in common is how they either represent or are connected to who I am or who I see myself as in some way.

  • Start blogging again (isn’t it ironic?)
  • Start a new podcast
  • Create content for social media
  • Record worship moments for weekly online worship
  • Start a cooking channel on YouTube
  • Learn to roast coffee beans
  • Roast and sell coffee
  • Build guitars
  • Write worship songs
  • Record an album of hymns (actively working on this one right now)
  • Write music in general and produce and release it
  • Get a welder and build things
  • Get a wood lathe and turn wood
  • Build a smoker trailer
  • Write a book or three
  • Design clothing and build a clothing brand
  • Visit all the cool locations in California that I see in all the social media reels
  • Visit Italy and other parts of Europe
  • Visit my friend in Pakistan and develop a deeper relationship with him and his family
  • Minister in Pakistan along side my friend
  • Visit my friends in Ukraine and Thailand
  • Take my wife to Hawaii for an anniversary
  • Visit my sister in Alaska again
  • Go back to Pittsburgh for a couple weeks to spend time with family and reconnect with old friends
  • Figure out the best way to utilize Patreon
  • Learn to play piano
  • Get better at playing guitar, drums, banjo, bass, ukulele, and mandolin
  • Purchase some property, design, and build a home
  • Build a Top Tracer driving range near Yuba City
  • Get really good at storytelling through film and put that to use in helping others tell their stories
  • Help plant churches
  • Go on mission trips
  • Climb a 14er
  • Do a 100 mile bike ride
  • Get a motorcycle
  • Get a truck that I can use to help others that I can also use for fun things like hauling campers and boats and going off-roading
  • Visit Israel and other regions found in the Bible
  • Visit Australia
  • Learn about and practice canning food and other homesteading practices
  • Make more sourdough and expand sourdough recipes

There’s a lot on my mind

Spending the time to get all of my thoughts out was quite the task. Some of those ideas were buried under a pile of other thoughts that I didn’t even realize they were still on my mind. But it didn’t take long to write those lists. It’s not like I was racking my brain to come up with things to write. I just started with each category and the thoughts poured out. It took longer to figure out the right prompt to get Midjourney AI to spit out the artwork I used for this post and make the few adjustments I wanted to make in Photoshop.

You might be overwhelmed when you scroll through these lists. There’s a lot there. It’s overwhelming for me. But now that I’ve got it all written down, I’m not afraid of forgetting any of them if I stop thinking about them. I think (no pun intended) that’s one of the reasons I feel so exhausted all the time. I’m simply trying to think about way too many things at once. These aren’t even exhaustive lists. They’re just what come off the top of my head without looking through the task lists that I already have.

Do you have a way that helps you process through all your thoughts and get things accomplished? What kind of practices do you use to handle your concerns, tasks, and ideas? I’d love to see what works for you because I’m still trying to figure out what works best for me.