It’s Monday morning in the month of December, which means I’m scrambling to dig out from a crazy weekend of multiple out-of-town swim meets, as well as a few fun holiday events that I attended. The level of “hustle and bustle” has definitely been kicked up a notch for me this month. When this happens, I tend to cling on for dear life to my tried and true methods for minimizing mental clutter. This helps me to keep my sanity in check, and my mental “To Do” list organized.
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MINIMIZE MENTAL CLUTTER METHOD #1: LIST-A-PALOOZA!
At this point in my life, I’ve pretty much perfected the art of list-making. For me, it’s the number one way to lessen the anxiety that I feel when my plate begins to overflow with tasks. I use the Nozbe task management app to keep my master To Do list for everything that I want to accomplish. The tasks on master list are divided into categories (home, business, kids, etc.).
When I’m overwhelmed, I pull up my master To Do list, and conduct a “brain dump”, making sure to write down each and every task that’s floating around in my head. As productivity guru David Allen says,
“Your Mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”
No matter how busy my weekend is, I always end it by creating a weekly paper calendar/To Do list, pulling information from my master To Do List and my Google Calendar. This piece of paper becomes the primary planning blueprint for my week.
MINIMIZE MENTAL CLUTTER METHOD #2: FIND YOUR REFLECTIVE “HAPPY PLACE”
We all have a favorite place where we can attempt to sort out our jumbled thoughts. I have a friend who always goes for hikes in the woods to sort out her thoughts. For me, it’s in the shower! I’m not sure why, but I tend to do my best thinking, come up with great ideas, and work out vexing problems during shower time. Perhaps it’s a consequence of that soothing hot water…OR perhaps it’s because the shower is the one place that I can go without interruption for any length of time in my home!
MINIMIZE MENTAL CLUTTER METHOD #3: KEEP ON TOP OF YOUR EMAIL
Although I’m not an Inbox Zero purist, I do strive to keep a minimal number of emails in my Inbox. Having a zillion messages smack me in the face when I open my email really freaks me out. It can get especially crazy with all of the holiday advertising that retailers bombard us with this time of year. As a result, I’m hyper-vigilant about managing email on a regular (read Daily) basis. A tool that I’ve found to be incredibly useful for managing email is Unroll.me. This free service organizes your emails to create a single daily summary email. It also enables you to easily unsubscribe from emails that you no longer wish to receive. Pure awesomeness!
If you worked through the Summer Shred Paper Declutter Challenge, you’re now familiar with the distinction between action and reference papers. I make the same distinction with email messages. Only the “action emails” remain in my Inbox. The reference emails that I decide to keep are either filed within an appropriate email folder, or are sent to Evernote for storage.
MINIMIZE MENTAL CLUTTER METHOD #4: USE EVERNOTE
I’ve already written about how using Evernote prevents my head from exploding on a daily basis when it comes to managing work-related information and resources. What I didn’t mention is that I also use it to manage many aspects of my personal life. It comes in handy for a place to store holiday gift ideas, recipes for a holiday party I’m hosting, as well as travel itineraries and upcoming vacation information. Thank you Evernote for saving my sanity!
I’m excited to hear about the ways that YOU keep the mental clutter in check, especially during the holiday season…please share my friends!