Unfortunately - for my sleeping habits and for my husband's - my mind is most active at night. It always has been. For years I've kept a little notebook and pen close to my side of the bed so that I can immediately spit out my ideas or "to-do's" onto paper and rest assured that I won't forget them after a 6 hour hiatus from consciousness. I find that an item written in all capital letters is intended to remind future-me of the item's importance and urgency; sometimes a cute little box resides to the left of each point as a little incentive for me to accomplish the task and thus be able to check the box. Whatever it takes. Recently -- per the suggestion of fabulous North Carolina based photog Millie Hollman -- the lists have expanded to encompass things that I would like to accomplish 1 month, 6 months, 3...5 years down the road. I confiscated Ben's recycled yellow paper pad and went to work, my to-do list growing to include publication goals, travel dreams, long term business plans and personal photo projects. The aforementioned feeling of contentment is achieved when I know that my mind is no longer fully responsible for keeping track of these long(er)term aspirations (okay, not entirely. I do need to keep track of the list itself.).
Millie's suggestion continues -- once you've deposited all these fabulous goals onto paper, it's time to organize. One blank knock-off Moleskin later, my list(s) have been organized into smaller lists, according to their urgency/personal timeline. The whole exercise is quite relieving - in essence, you're admitting that you can't realize all of your wonderful ideas at once. Assigning a timeline to your to-do list takes the pressure off of "now," letting you concentrate on the things at hand that are most urgent. Thanks for the help, Millie!