5 Ways to Manage Mental Clutter

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One area of concentration for me this year is overall life management. Is that all?! Though this may seem ambiguous and daunting, in my mind it really isn’t. I’ve discovered that a lot of small difficulties can be managed better if I address the elephant in the room. For me, the elephant was mental clutter. If not directed well, my brain will run like interconnecting bridges over a busy freeway with traffic going 75 mph. So, I’ve come up with about five ways to reduce mental clutter, enhance personal productivity, and maintain some level of peace in my heart and home. It is working for me so far. Here’s what I’m doing:

1. Write it down. 

I bullet journal in the simplest way possible. Basically, I keep a calendar, monthly goals, weekly tasks, daily tasks, menu planning, and long-range goals. I use Evernote to jot quick notes, or to make lists. I keep a pad of paper in a basket by my desk for quick notes, phone numbers to be recorded later, or anything that needs to be written down temporarily. I have to brain dump more than ever these days. I keep a commonplace book when I read to remember important quotes or passages. I have a prayer journal and a devotional journal too that I keep in a basket by my desk with stationary, paper, and pens. For some, this may be too many things to keep track of, but for me everything in this way has a designated home to go to instead of whirling around in my head.

2. Work in chunks

Since I calendar everything (bullet journal and Iphone…I have one foot in the digital world and one foot in the analog world), I write down the necessary tasks that must be done each day. If I am lesson planning or working on a project I will try to spread out the task over several days so that I do not get overwhelmed or completely take up a day to accomplish one or two things. Doing my work in small chunks helps me tackle more in my day and makes me feel less burdened.

3. Set a time limit

Once I get involved in something it is hard for me to pull away. I get in “the zone” and I tend to lose track of time. So I schedule everything and give each task a time limit. When I look at my day I try to determine how much realistic time I can devote to something- preschool drop off and pick up, schoolwork with the girls, errands, chores, cooking, phone calls, emails, writing, etc. Once time is up, then time is up and off to the next task. Some tasks overlap, like going over spelling lists with my oldest while browning meat for dinner.  But for the most part, just like everything has a place when it comes to physical organization, every task has a place in the day with time management.

4. Delegate simple tasks

The kids have chores, but I am enlisting them to do more, because they can. I am getting better at asking for help from Travis too when I need help. I still have a lot of room for growth with this, but I’ve noticed positive changes. Delegating simple tasks enables me to focus on what I feel is important for me to do. Dusting is not one of those, so the kids can do that. 🙂

5. Make space for wellness

I don’t necessarily write down when I rest, exercise, or what I eat, but I do make space for these things. Well, exercise has taken a backseat recently, so I need to prioritize my workouts again. Nevertheless, I am in process to prioritize my wellness. I make myself go to bed even though I may want to stay up to finish tasks. In setting time limits within my schedule I give myself permission to “clock out” after I get the kids to bed. Usually. There are and will be exceptions. I have a personal diet that works for me, including oils and vitamins/probiotics. If I don’t prioritize wellness then I won’t have the energy and health to do the things I value.

Mental clutter like physical clutter needs a place to go. For me, it goes to a variety of places in a variety of ways, but for you it may need to go somewhere else in another way(s). Finding tools that help us manage our lives better frees us to enjoy our lives more and steward our time well. These are just some of the tools and methods that are working for me so far, and may be helpful for others as well. The important thing is to find what works for you within the context of your own life, praying for God to give you guidance on how to manage it well. I truly have prayed for weeks before I set these practices in motion for God to give me wisdom with time management, and I credit Him with helping me through the clutter.

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