If you’re like most moms, mental clutter can cause you to become overwhelmed far easier than you otherwise would. Having too much on your mind will zap you of your energy and positive attitude. The problem is that today’s lifestyles tend towards information overload and can set you on edge. It seems most people deal with mental clutter daily.
I am the type that has mental clutter spill over into physical clutter and vice versa, so I take a lot of safeguards to keep mental clutter at bay so physical things don’t pile up. Piles in one place results in piles in other places, too.
Because of my work schedule, I try to get everything done while my kids are at school so I can be totally present for them when they’re home. In order to have the ability to perform tasks on a schedule, it’s very important that I be able to clear mental cutter. That way, when it’s time to write, I can focus on doing so instead of being distracted by the 1,000,001 other things that need to be handled in a week’s time!
Here are the top ten ways I keep mental clutter at bay in my own mind.
Write it down
I am the queen of lists. I’ve been known to drive my mom nuts. She tells me that by the time I’m done with my list, I could have accomplished the task already!
If I write something down when it comes to mind and put a date on it, I can put it out of my mind and know I won’t have to think about it again until it’s time to deal with that list. When I get home, I transfer my notes to my to do list.
Think about what happens when you go to the grocery store on the fly versus when you take a list. If you don’t have a list in hand, you will inevitably forget something, get some stuff you didn’t need AND spend too much money because you bought some stuff you shouldn’t have. Having it all written down keeps you on point so you’re not aggravating yourself by forgetting things.
Keep a calendar that the whole family can see and use
Not having to remember who has to be where and when, and feel like I’m constantly missing something, is a Godsend. To accomplish this, my family uses Google Calendar. My husband and I each have a calendar, and everyone’s activities are scheduled out at a glance. That is a huge help as when I need to schedule something, I’ve already got everyone’s activities listed out. I don’t have to remember when the kid’s monthly activities fall or when Jeff is having that meeting that is off-schedule. It cuts down on the aggravation of scheduling conflicts, as well.
Keep a to do list
I use a free application called Asana to keep running to do lists for every area of my life. I have them for housework, each faucet of my business, to remind me when to purchase gifts, prepare for upcoming events and so much more.
Every day, I boot up my computer and open Asana in one tab, my google calendar in another tab, and then I open a third tab for whatever I’m working on at the moment. That gives me instant access to everything I need while following my daily routine.
Keep a routine
Our mornings have a predictable pattern- get up, the adults take showers, wake up the kids, make breafast, eat, get dressed and the like. Once the kids are off to school, I continue the routine. I go straight to the kitchen and swap out the kombucha, start the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, then lay out meat for dinner. Soak anything that needs soaking, then move on to what is scheduled for that day.
In the evenings, the kids take baths, pack up the backpacks, lay out clothes and gather everything we need for the next day, brush teeth, change into pajamas and head to bed.
I also have a checklist for each day laminated and on my desk. That way, on Sunday night, I can see that the kids need to pack their piano books. On Monday night, they need to lay out certain clothes for an activity on Tuesday. I don’t have to think and remember who has what and when. It’s all down on paper so I just need to go down my checklist to make sure we aren’t scrambling the next morning.
Set up reminders
No matter what program you’re using, make sure you get one that can remind you in ways you’ll use. Google calendar has the option of e-mailing you your daily agenda each morning. It can also do a pop-up window on your computer to remind you that you have an activity starting in 10/15/30/60 minutes. Or it can pop up on your phone. If you’re really busy like me, you can get it in both places.
Asana can e-mail you your daily to do lists and you can also access it from your cell phone.
There’s an app for that
If you have a cell phone, make it work for you. Have it pop up reminders and sync to your computer. use timers and alarms so you wn’t lose track of time. Every afternoon, my phone reminds me fifteen minutes in advance of my hard deadlines or when I should be leaving the house. That way, even if I’m out and running an errand, I won’t lose track of time.
Have some down time
You can’t function at top speed all the time and not miss things. Many things. You’ll burn yourself out. Build enough downtime in to your schedule both daily and weekly that you can keep your creativity and your energy level up.
For me, that means that I have a cushion built into my business time each day while the kids are gone, and again in the evening. That way, if a business emergency erupts, I’ve got that cushion of time. If it doesn’t, I’ve got some down time.
If I don’t have down time, I lose my creativity. No creativity, no neat recipes from a dull, boring mom.
Get enough sleep
If I don’t get enough sleep, I have brain fog and I don’t get as much done. I’ve found that the work accomplished the next day is of a lesser quality. So it doesn’t seem to matter if I get 6 hours of sleep and I’m foggy or i sleep 8 hours and I’m clear, I seem to get the same amount of work done. In short, skipping sleep doesn’t gain me anything.
Control paper clutter
Clutter begets clutter. If paper clutter gets away from you, it can lead to mental clutter in your life. I’ve found keeping the paper clutter at bay helps me keep a clear head. Dump junk mail as soon as it comes through the door. Immediately file bills as soon as you pay them, school papers and other items. The goal is to only handle each item once to keep them out of your physical and mental space.
For the things you need to keep at your fingertips, keep a filing system at your workspace.
Declutter Your Workspace
A clear workspace will save you tons of time. Every day, spend five minutes decluttering the area you spend the most time doing your work and planning, usually around your computer.