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Have you ever had a day when you were trying so hard to be productive, but you just couldn’t seem to get anything done?
Was your attention robbed by all the “to do” tasks that kept popping into your head?
Friends, this is called Mental Clutter. Yes, it’s a thing. It’s real.
When we are distracted to the point of not being able to fully focus on the the task at hand, mental clutter becomes a problem.
Think of mental clutter as all the loose ends that you have been meaning to tie up, but never quite did. You know you can’t forget about them, so they hang out in your mind, taking up valuable space that would otherwise be used to focus on your work at hand, your family, your house, etc.
I have one super easy remedy for mental clutter: The List!
I realize that writing a To Do List doesn’t sound very revolutionary, so let me explain…
Let’s say that I need to focus wholeheartedly on a project for work, but I’ve been meaning to register my daughter for camp and I know I can’t forget to wash her uniform for school the next day. If I don’t “unload” those “to do” tasks, my brain will continually try to remind me to not forget to do them while I’m also trying to focus on the work project. My project will be constantly interrupted and will it probably take me twice as long to complete the it.
What to do? Make a List!
Before sitting down to bang out some really brilliant work on the project, I first should jot down the “to do” tasks on a list and set it aside. It’s not going anywhere. My brain can relax and pour itself into the work project, knowing that I can refer back to that list at the end of the day.
I’ll admit, I’m a list person! I get a lot of satisfaction out of successfully checking off my completed “to do” tasks, or consciously moving them to another day’s list.
I don’t do well with mental clutter. I just don’t have the time or energy to keep up with everything that needs to be done on a continual basis!
But, I also don’t do well with missing deadlines or leaving important tasks undone. In fact, I prefer building margin into my day, so I feel like I have a handle on my schedule.
Here are 10 ways to reduce mental clutter by using a list:
If you know you have to return items to a few stores, write it down! It is beyond frustrating to arrive at a store and then realize you should have brought your return with you. It’s a waste of time, gas, and missing out on getting your hard-earned money back into your wallet!
Paying your bills.
I pay our bills using our bank’s online bill pay service. Some are automated. Some need to be updated each month. Worrying if you remembered to schedule a bill payment or mail a check to the service provider should not be taking up your brain space! If you want to learn more about managing your finances or creating a household budget that works, check these links out. Setting aside a short period of time to make sure your monthly bills are taken care of translates into a huge return on investment for your peace of mind!
How many times have you meant to donate to this cause or that opportunity, but you just didn’t “get it together” in time, and the moment passed? What about the bags or boxes you keep meaning to drop off at Goodwill, but instead are taking up space in the trunk of your car? Include these kinds of time-sensitive tasks on your list!
Birthday Cards and Sympathy Meals.
Don’t let the chance to encourage others slip by due to lack of organization. By writing down upcoming needs on your list, you can integrate purchasing the ingredients for a meal or greeting cards into your regular errands. Bonus: If you’re low on postage stamps, add that to the list as well. Nothing is more frustrating than actually having the birthday cards signed and ready to mail, and then realizing you’re out of stamps! I purchase postage stamps at the grocery store checkout.
Helping the Homeless.
It’s such a bummer to have to drive right by a person in need on the street just because you didn’t plan ahead. If this bothers you too, and you keep meaning to do something about it, write it down, then do it! We have a tote bag full of water bottles and cracker packs that’s easy to bring from our house to the car (so it doesn’t get too hot). That way, at the traffic light, we can easily reach in and share a small treat with our fellow humans who are struggling!
Take a moment to schedule automatic refills for your 30 or 90 day Rx’s. Don’t be caught off guard due to lack of planning. If you have a gut feeling there could be a hangup with the insurance company or pharmacy, schedule this task well ahead of time. Set yourself up for success!
Shred your personal papers.
When we moved, I went through our files and purged what I could, but I ended up with a box of papers with personal information on them that I meant to shred. For months. Every time I saw that box, it bugged me. Since we don’t own a shredder (which we may just need to buy already…!), I finally took the papers to a shredding service to have them destroyed. It didn’t take me long at all! But I didn’t do it until I’d written the task on my list and was motivated to check it off!
Review Life Insurance and Investment Policies.
Friends…don’t put this off! Jot it down on your list and set aside a bit of time to be sure what you think you have is really what you have. Redeeming a life insurance policy or coming up on retirement age is not a good time for bad surprises! (Bonus: If you have an international trip coming up, schedule time to be sure your family’s passports are current!)
Washing the Dog.
You may be a really good dog owner and take Fido to the groomers on a regular schedule, and if that’s the case, skip over this one. I’m kind of talking to myself here, actually…We LOVE our two furry friends, but we wash and groom them at home…sometimes. If I don’t write this task on a list, it’s just not going to get prioritized. Always room for improvement, right?!
Every so often, tackle your pile of mending and put those clothes away for good! Mending a pair of pants or sewing a button on a shirt will take literally a few minutes, but the payoff for having completed the task will be huge!
If you haven’t tried using a list, I’d encourage you to explore its benefits! Set aside your mental clutter so you can focus on your family, your household, and your work without feeling distracted and worried that you’ll drop the ball on something important.
Finally, remember that one itty bitty flaw in using a list is remembering to write down your “to do” tasks…
It’s ok! We are human and we will forget things sometimes, so allow yourself some grace in this area!
“She watches over the affairs of her household.” Proverbs 31:27a
Gracia y paz,
P.S. If you haven’t checked out my FREE digital resource, “Pull Yourself Together, Mama! 5 Ways to Look (and Feel!) Polished Under Pressure,” please do! Inside, I offer straightforward solutions to help you refocus your thinking, so that you can be the BEST wife and mom ever!
- Nurture Your Core Values!
- Keep It Simple!
- Less Is More!
- Learn to Let It Go!
- It’s All About That Grace!
Linking up with: The Modest Mom Blog