June was the month to declutter my mind as part of the Declutter Cleanse Challenge 2017. When my mind is overflowing with tasks, appointments, and “should” or “you need to” thoughts, I become overwhelmed and go into stationary mode. This can also be a trigger to overeat because I can treat food as a distraction.
I am more productive and more at peace when I have a way to release some of the nonsense that gets jumbled in my head.
I originally set out with the intention of coaching myself daily around the thoughts that were going on in my mind. I ended up taking a different route to clear out overwhelm that consumes me.
First thing first, I stopped posting in Facebook and Instagram. I also removed the Facebook app from my phone. For me, Facebook was taking away from my presence in the moment. I would stress about getting a good picture to post on social media, and then it would take me an absurd amount of time to post the picture with a caption. After all that, I would then stress about checking in on social media to respond to comments, or just see what others were doing. It started to feel like more of a job than something I used for fun and to connect with others.
Plus, I literally could feel my energy draining from my body the longer I stared at my phone and scrolled...
I will probably write a whole other blog post on this social media thing because I could go on forever. I know there are some people who thrive with Facebook and Instagram and really love the connection and what it provides for them. At this point in my life, I’m not one of them.
Once I stopped engaging on Facebook and Instagram, I noticed I had more time on my hands and less on my never ending to-do list in my head.
Notebooks and Lists
Try as I may, I can’t find the ease that supposedly comes with using apps and electronics to streamline and organize your life. I get the best results when I put pen to paper. There’s something about actually writing on paper that is much more therapeutic and helpful then tapping on my phone keyboard.
This is why I now have a monthly calendar, day planner, habit tracker, notebook, and a yearly planner that I use on a daily basis. My husband thinks I am starting to hoard this stuff because I have so many planners and notebooks with me. But this system works well for me and is a creative outlet so it’s a win-win.
This is how I use these items to declutter my mind:
Monthly Calendar: This hangs in our kitchen and holds appointments, classes, and social events that we take part in.
Day Planner: I absolutely LOVE my day planner. I could practically do a whole different post about why I love it. But I will keep this short and sweet for now. I spend about 10 to 15 minutes on Sunday night filling in my day planner for the week. I copy from the monthly calendar into the day planner, and then I go through and write in 2 to 3 tasks that I want to accomplish each day. Primarily these tasks have to do with cleaning because I tend to clean throughout the week instead of all at once.
I also include in my day planner my goals for the week and a short to-do list. There’s a spot to list what grocery items we need so I fill this out as I go along in the week. Writing down items as soon as we are out of them is a huge help in creating my shopping list toward the end of the week. Just think of all that mental space stuff like this takes up in your head? It’s amazing how many times you can tell yourself you need toothpaste throughout the day if you don’t write this down somewhere.
I try to look at my planner every night and plan out the next day (in between the already established appointments). Then all I have to do in the morning is open my planner to see what I should focus on. It alleviates a lot of decision making in the morning which is key for my productivity.
Habit Tracker: I have talked about this before so I won’t go into too much detail (you can check out a post about this here), but I have been tracking my habits for a year and a half now. I track habits that I would like to do on a semi-daily basis like exercise, reading, writing, spending time with the kids (yes, I am much more intentional with this if I know I can “check it off” at the end of the day), clean, etc. I create the tracker in my day planner and it alleviates the need to put these tasks/hobbies on my daily to-do list. Plus, it provides a daily overview of where I spent my time and what I accomplished.
Notebook: A few years ago, I became obsessed with the idea of bullet journaling. I tried to incorporate the actual bullet journaling system into my life, but it just didn’t work for me. What I did learn from this type of journaling is that you can use a blank notebook to create whatever type of lists and spreads you want using markers, stickers, and really cool pens. I’m sure this is a no-brainer to most people, but I’m such a rule follower, that this idea had never crossed my mind.
Now I always have a notebook with me that include different lists (books to read, house projects, vacation packing, grocery), workout calendars, energy/mood trackers, weekly meal plans and grocery, quotes, and notes that I take on various topics.
One thing that I have enjoyed about keeping notebooks is the ability to go back and reflect on what you have done in the past. For example, I used my Florida packing lists from last year to help me pack for the trip this year.
Yearly Planner: I use Your Best Year 2018 to plan my goals and intentions for the year ahead. I spent a few days in the beginning of January writing out my financial, spiritual, mental, physical, and relational goals for the year. Then I broke these down into quarterly goals, and then into monthly goals. What I like about this is that every quarter, I can review how I did and reassess where necessary, then have a fresh start for the next quarter. This workbook allows me to set weekly goals (that play into long-term goals), which keeps me accountable and making progress.
I then take these weekly goals and transfer them into my day planner each week. At the end of the week, I use the yearly planner to document what goals I attained and the progress I made toward my overall goal.
I thrive on crossing tasks off to-do lists and writing down accomplishments. Being able to see the progress I am making keeps me motivated. I also enjoy making comparisons based on past time periods in my life.
I am more competitive with myself, then I am with others, and I am much more accountable to myself than I am to others so this type of system is very effective for me.
All of this planning and documenting eliminates a lot of stress because once I write things down I no longer carry the heavy burden of mental reminders.
The next mind declutter tool I want to put into practice is a thought download every morning. A thought download is when you put pen to paper and write down everything that comes to mind for a designated amount of time. It really helps to clear out any junk that’s hanging around, and it allows you to take a look at the constant thoughts you have that may be causing havoc in your life.
What type of systems do you use to keep organized and relieve some of your mind clutter?
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