Whether you’re in the throes of a divorce, laying the groundwork for an adoption, negotiating a tough child support arrangement or involved in any activity that requires you to lean on a Minnesota family law attorney to solve problems and obtain results, odds are that you’re spending a lot of your free time thinking about your situation unproductively.

For instance, if your spouse recently left you and your two young children, you probably will have a hard time “being Zen” and being in the moment at work or with your children. Instead, your mind will likely generate scenarios that will distract you and make you miserable.

So why does this happen? What can you do about it?

Bestselling productivity author, David Allen, offered this compelling explanation in his book Getting Things Done: “Everything you’ve told yourself you ought to do, your mind thinks you should do right now. Frankly, as soon add you have two things to do stored in your RAM, you’ve generated personal failure, because you can’t do two things at the same time. This produces an all-pervasive stress factor whose source can’t be pin-pointed.”

Furthermore, Allen says: “Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started. Sometimes the biggest gain in productive energy will come from cleaning the cobwebs, dealing with old business, and clearing the desks—cutting loose debris that’s impeding forward motion.”

If Allen’s ideas are correct, that’s very good news! That means that you don’t necessarily need to finish everything on your to-do list to relieve your stress. Instead, you simply need to identify your obligations in a concrete fashion (i.e. write them all down as opposed to storing them in your head), and track where you are with each project.

Try this Allen-inspired exercise to gain some clarity and mental space now. This organizational exercise can in turn help you save on your legal bills, because you’ll make more productive use of your attorney’s time and thus get more done with less effort.

Take a fresh sheet of paper and just write down everything on your mind with respect to your family law issue. Don’t worry about whether it’s trivial or not – just get all your obligations, worries, hopes and thoughts about it out on paper. It may take you 30 minutes or 2 hours, but this process in and of itself will let you see that:

a)    Your workload is not infinite.
b)    You can intuitively organize and prioritize next steps.
c)    You can probably punt on many of the projects that are weighing on your mind right now – in other words, address them a few weeks or months from now.