Structure Your Mind

Episode : . A Blue background with a yellow neuron with a body the shape of a star. Words say Ex-gifted podcast. Helping exceptional kids become functional adults. A Yellow stripe across the bottom reads With Raine Eliza from

When you talk about getting organized, no one ever talks about what’s going on in your mind. But can you think of any space more chaotic than that one?


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Clip-on book light

Waterproof Notebook

Trello: A digital tool for organizing your thoughts

Update 2023

Obsidian is an even better tool (for me, personally) for organizing, and most importantly linking your thinking

Learn More:

Thought Ladder

Morning Pages


Your mind is possibly the most important thing you can get organized, and it so rarely comes up - even for people with executive dysfunction, but think about it - your world is basically what’s inside your head (your ideas), what’s outside your head (your environment and belongings), and the interaction between those two things (your actions and how you spend your time). All of those things can and should be kept more organized if you want to achieve your goals.

Idea management is especially important to people like us who have a million ideas that we want to be able to save to contemplate later. Here are some ways to save your working memory for the things that matter.

What we can do about it:

1. Throw out the thoughts that don’t spark joy.

2. Write. Shit. Down.

3. Always have a way to take notes.

4. Mind management is self-care.

5. Make time for your mind.


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About the Ex-Gifted Podcast:

If you are a former gifted kid who grew up to struggle with basic adulting, then you need the Ex-Gifted podcast.

Host Ren Eliza talks about gifted kid burnout, and the damage that lasts long into adulthood. Damage like battered self esteem, decimated internal motivation, and a continued failure to live up to expectations even while we were placed on pedestals and alienated from our peers.

Ex-Gifted will cover failure, procrastination, imposter syndrome, and chronic anxiety and depression, and a whole lot more.

Each episode also offers suggestions to deal with your executive dysfunction in adulthood so you can rebuild the systems that allowed you to shine so brightly in childhood.

We’re making exceptional children into functional adults.



If you were a gifted kid who needs help just being a functioning adult, then this is the show for you. Welcome Ex-Gifted

Hello my little chaos demons. Today we enter the most chaotic realm you have ever stepped foot into. And that is your own mind. Am I getting just progressively weirder as this series goes?

Your mind is possibly the most important thing you can get organized, and it so rarely comes up – even for people with executive dysfunction, but think about it – your world is basically what’s inside your head (your ideas), what’s outside your head (your environment and belongings), and the interaction between those two things (your actions and how you spend your time). All of those things can and should be kept more organized if you want to achieve your goals.

As a warning – no, these tips will not make you neurotypical and that’s never the goal. They won’t even help you mask. The idea here is to make your mind work in a way that functions best for YOU by emphasizing its strengths and outsourcing its weaknesses.

Idea management is something that I never see people talking about, but it’s tremendously important to people like us who have a million ideas that we want to be able to save to contemplate later. I mean, this is why it’s such a meme for people to have like 500+ browser tabs open at any given time, right? You have all these things that you think about that you want to keep thinking about. That you’re sure you’ll get back to thinking about sometime. And you do the same thing in your head – juggling 500 threads at once, causing tremendous stress on your on your working memory. Just like the tabs in your browser are causing stress on your computer’s memory.

My trick for your browser is to just go ahead and save them, in bookmarks or else to some kind of reader app. And then just close them. Simple, yeah? Okay well hold on to your objections for a minute.

First, let’s talk about our mind management principles

1. Same as before – throw out the things that don’t spark joy.

2. Write. Shit. Down.

3. Always have a way to take notes.

4. Mind management is self-care

5. Make time for your mind

1. Throw out the things that don’t spark joy.

Just sit tight because I’m going to address this one all through this episode.

2. Write. Shit. Down.

So we talked about saving and closing browser tabs. Now, do the same thing with the tabs in your head. You’ve got these ideas. Go ahead and save them. Write them down so that you don’t forget them. Now, I just keep a notebook with me all the time, combined with my planner. It’s just a blank notebook. The pages are numbered and at the front I made an index so I can just look at the descriptions of all the things I’ve written down and I can flip to that page and look it over again when I want to.

But what if I forget that I wrote the thing down or I don’t come back to it? What if I end up not thinking about it again because I wrote it down instead of trying to like cling to it with the sheer might of anxiety in my brain? Or what if I don’t read the page I had opened in my browser because I bookmarked it instead of keeping the tab open and visible? Well, the thing is – it doesn’t matter.

There are entirely too many things that exist on the internet for you to ever get through every single one you find interesting. The main point in bookmarking all of these tabs before closing (and taking these notes as well) IS THE FORGETTING ITSELF. It’s not to encourage you to come back and read them eventually – although you probably will read some, possibly even more than you would with the open tabs – but to free up that space in your mind right now in the present so you can think about other things. Forgetting is a feature not a bug because our minds, and our browsers, were never meant to work that way. The stress does not spark joy. Let it go.

And with the ideas in your head especially, you’re far more likely to just forget about it than you would be if you wrote it down, especially once you start to get into the habit of checking over the book, and glancing over the index periodically. And once you do that for a little while it will be much easier for you to think of doing it in the future.

And it doesn’t even have to be like an actual physical notebook. You can use the notes app on your phone. You can use voice notes if you don’t like writing things down. You don’t even have to type it out or write it out. Just get those ideas out of your head. Look into voice to text options for note apps. Alexa and other home voice assistants have some of these capabilities as well. And if you are very concerned about coming back to it later, then give it a good name and description and it will be no problem for you to find it later. Evernote is also a great app for this or. Personally, I prefer OneNote as far as the notebook apps, but I also really, really love Trello, because it has a visual layout.

You you may have noticed a pattern over these past 3 episodes and that is to make things visible wherever you can, if you are fairly visual person or a tactile/tangible person because when you have a visual layout you can also put your hands on it – you can touch it – you can feel it – you can move your fingers over it. If you are more of an auditory person then what might be really helpful is having like reminders on Alexa or some other spoken aloud reminder. Often I do both because I like to engage as many of my senses as I can as often as possible in order to help me remember to do things.

I will say that you should keep to the smallest possible number of containers for these notes though, so that you always know where to look. I use my notebook, but I send texts to myself when it’s inconvenient to write. That’s it. And it brings us to our next principle.

3. Always have a way to take notes.

WRITE SHIT DOWN means you always have a way to write something down, always. I’m worried what you just heard was to have a way to write shit down a lot of the time, when you can. What I said was always have a way to write something down. In the shower, driving, when you wake up in the middle of the night. Yes there are water-proof notebooks that can work in the shower (as well as waterproof cellphones but as I’m an engineer I feel the need to remind you that steam has more penetrative power than liquid water so I do not endorse bringing your phone into the shower, regardless of whether I may or may not do it myself). Your phone can almost certainly take voice notes while you’re driving – completely hands-free.

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night remembering something important or with a really cool dream you want to remember, or a cool story or art prompt you might forget? You don’t want to get out of bed and wake yourself up all the way, but you definitely don’t want to forget it and oh no – it’s already slipping away so you better think about it even harder RIGHT NOW! What happens? Usually you end up staying awake for an hour or more while you perseverate on this thought you’re afraid to forget but at the same time you are afraid it will keep you up. Then after you finally fall asleep, it’s forgotten almost entirely, just the tiniest sliver left acting to remind you that you’ve forgotten what it was that you were supposed to remember. Assuming you have good sleep hygiene and don’t sleep with your phone next to your bed for night-time notes ahem – a clip-on book light on a notebook is perfect for this. Many even have yellowish lights instead of blue to make it easier to go back to sleep. Get your thought out as fast as possible and you can relax right back into sleep knowing that the idea is safe somewhere. And then in the morning you can read it over and laugh at yourself for ever thinking the idea was that important, because you’ve been embracing the absurd as part of your mindset practice.

Oh, you haven’t been doing mindset practice? Then let’s talk about that!

4. Mindset work is self-care

Mindset management is the other major part of mental organization. To be nerdy as fuck, let’s start out with the dictionary definition of mindset. Merriam-Webster defines mindset as “a mental attitude or inclination” – and mindset practice refers to consciously choosing an attitude or inclination that will serve you better than your default, and then actually practicing it. This practice is so important because it pays off by influencing every single other thing you do. This means that it is foundational – remember last time we said that’s where you should start with time management?

Mindset practices can help with emotional regulation, confidence, building mental and physical energy, and so many more things. In short, mindset practice refers to any act that has you examine your thoughts and beliefs in order to challenge or even replace them with thoughts that better serve you and your goals.

Meditation is but one of MANY ways you can practice managing your mind. If you have tried meditation in the past but found it too difficult to sit quietly and think of nothing, I would strongly urge you to check out guided meditations, or walking meditation, or drawing meditation or other style that may suit you. Meditation is not for everyone, but I’ve yet to meet a person who said they couldn’t meditate who actually knew about all those practices. The idea that meditation is just one thing – and that you’re expected to completely empty your mind – are two tremendous misconceptions about meditation.

5. Make time for your mind

The idea that mindset practice is just meditation is another huge misconception. One of my favorite mindset practices is the love child of a thought ladder and the morning pages. If you already know what both of these practices are, you may already have an idea of what I’m talking about. For everyone else, I’ll give a quick description. A thought ladder is an exercise where you write something you believe at the bottom of a page, and a related thought you’d rather believe at the top. Then you fill in a few middle rungs with progressively more neutral to positive thoughts and slowly – possibly over a period of months or longer – work your way up from your old thought to the new one. Morning pages is a really simple writing practice where you do completely unedited uncensored stream of consciousness for three handwritten pages. Both of these can be great ways to release thoughts that don’t bring you joy. If you want to hear about either in more details, I’ve dropped a link in the show notes.

Either of these tools can be used on their own, and I do use them both, but one of my favorite things combines the mini-affirmations of the thought ladder with the meditative writing of the morning pages. I sit down with a 10 minute timer, and write one of my thought ladder rungs at the top of the page, and then I write a full page dedicated to that one thought – supporting evidence, rewordings, derivative thoughts and deductions. I take a single thought and meditate on that one fragment of an idea, expanding it into a whole. This has been so helpful to me to cement those thoughts much faster than just repeating the one statement over and over to myself.

Okay now one more trick I use daily to improve my mindset – laughter. One of my default go-tos has long been to attack myself when I’m feeling down, asking “What’s wrong with me??” or using self-deprecation as a defense mechanism even against my own brain. When I notice this now, I always bring it to the front of my attention how absolutely silly that is. It’s not that big a deal – no really, it almost never is, no matter how it feels at the time – and the simple absurdity of beating myself up over something so small almost always gets a laugh out of me, which helps me to break the feedback loop of sorrow.

And if it IS that big a deal, then it’s probably something where you are CHOOSING to feel badly about it and that’s okay because sadness and anger and all of our emotions are meant to be felt. Mindset practice isn’t meant to be about eliminating so-called negative emotions.

Principles of mind management:

1. Throw out the thoughts that don’t spark joy.

2. Write. Shit. Down.

3. Always have a way to take notes.

4. Mind management is self-care

5. Make time for your mind

One last thing about mind management is that hey you should check out my role planning system! You honestly don’t even have to use the planner sections at all if you want to stay digital, because it also comes with a notebook for idea management. Plus a worksheet to help you start to build your character, by building a character. This is probably the last time that I’m going to have the free testing option on the show. So you’ve got just another week or two to get signed up. Go ahead & sign up to test the Roleplanning Game for free if you want to level up in real life.

And you know I’ve been asking for monetary help supporting the show, and that’s great, but the other support I could really use is some word of mouth! If you like the show please spread the word and let your friends know! Share an Instagram post for an episode you like. Your love and support is so appreciated.

And with that we wrap up season 1 of ex-gifted. I hope to be back in two weeks, but I may take a short break to tend to personal matters. In the meantime, let me know what topics or discussions you’re interested in hearing about. Or if you have a unique perspective shoot me an email and maybe we can set up a guest spot. Until then, mind your mind friends.


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