Although there's no such thing as keeping score in meditation, if there were, I would lose. My brain is constantly going, and even though the person talking to me on my meditation app says it's okay and normal to get distracted, I get frustrated with my own inability to focus on one thing at a time. It's just not in my nature.
However, I've come to recognize the importance of releasing my brain from the to-dos and worries and frustrations.
I do something that I used to call a brain dump. I would write "Brain Dump" on top of a sheet of paper and then just start listing everything that was on my mind. When I was dealing with two children under the age of five and very intense job stress, my brain dumps could be three full notebook pages long. You'd think having such a long list would be overwhelming, but it is actually freeing to get everything out of my head and onto paper. That's why I recently changed the name of this approach to "Brain Release" instead.
Try this! Remember when we learned about brainstorming in school? We were told not to judge the ideas that came out, but to just get them down on paper. The same rule applies here. Write everything, from really small stuff (text Mom about Thursday) to huge stuff (write a will), and even stuff that might eventually turn out to not be important or acted upon.
Once everything's out, you can group like items together, cross out those things that don't seem that important in light of everything else on the list, and make a plan for how other tasks will get accomplished.
Don't wait until there's so much in your head that you fear it will explode. Be prepared for a brain release at any time. I have a small notebook in my car and when I hear something that triggers a to-do (try this book, look up this website, check out this podcast), I write it down as soon as I get to a red light. And I keep a sheet on my desk at work so I have a place to put those random thoughts that are important but can't be acted on at that time. Once it's on paper, I don't have to think about it any more until I can actually do something with it.
I hear people lamenting that their brain isn't as good as it used to be, or they wish they could remember things better, and I try to help them change their language. Your brain is for far more important things than remembering what's on the shopping list. So write it down or use an app or email it to yourself.
Feeling overwhelmed? Release your brain!