Do you have trouble focusing? Is it difficult for you to start on a project because first you have to clear your desk and hunt for the items you need? Do you feel you never have time for yourself? The problem might not just be physical clutter, but mental clutter.

Limit Your Digital Noise

Unfollow! Ruthlessly edit the people you follow on social media. Do they inspire you? Make you laugh? Are they near and dear to you?  If you answer “no,” to one or more of those questions – it’s time to remove them from your feed.

Unsubscribe! Are you inundated with spam emails? Take a few minutes each day for a week to unsubscribe from all of them.  I often have to repeat this practice once a month, but stick with it, and eventually you will be getting only the emails that you actually want to read.

Do Not Disturb! Use the setting on your phone to give yourself some peace and quiet every day. While you’re at it, use your settings to stop getting alerts every time you get a new email, facebook, tweet, or instagram.

If you spend a little time this week to clear out your feeds, inbox(es), and alerts, you can spend 5-10 minute a few times a day getting updated, on your terms, rather than having your phone dictate every little update every time they come in.  And then bask in all of that free digital space.

Clear Your Workspace

Physical clutter almost always contributes to mental clutter.  All of those papers and projects screaming at you whenever you walk into the room.  If you use it every day, it should be close at hand… but not necessarily on your desk.

Project Boxes

Give projects their own box that includes every single thing you would need to work on and complete that project. For instance, you might need a scrap booking box, a homework box, or a coupon clipping box.  And yes, this might mean you’d need to purchase several pairs of scissors, tubes of glue, or rolls of washi tape – but the trade off is that you are never searching for what you need when you need it.

Clipboards

Do you like to have everything you are working on or inspired by to be right in front of your face? Buy a bunch of cheap clipboards and hang them above your desk. You can have several small inspiration boards by clipping or taping items to each clipboard.  You could have a clipboard for bills to pay, bills to mail, paperwork to complete, or recipes to try.

Drawers

Have drawer space at your desk for everything you use frequently.  Maybe that includes a drawer for mailing supplies (envelopes, stamps, and cards); a drawer for office supplies (pens, highlighters, paperclips, post-it notes); another for files and paperwork. When you are done working, everything goes back in its drawer.

Mental Clutter.jpg

ONE (Project Box)  |  TWO (Clipboards)  |  THREE (Drawers)

Use To-Do Lists

Keep a to-do list centrally located (your desktop, your smart phone, your command center) so that you can quickly write down an item as you think of it and then keep working. There are several apps and programs that can help you keep project, to-do, and other lists in order. Even a notebook and pen will work.

Whatever works for you, use one system and stick to it. Once you can trust that you’ve got it on your to-do list, you won’t waste valuable brain power on trying to remember what you forgot.

Just Say No

You don’t want to be rude, or you truly want to help, or you’re afraid you’ll appear weak to your boss or colleagues. Stop worrying about other people and think about your time and what you choose to do with it (yes! it’s ok to be selfish sometimes!!). Do you REALLY have enough time to accomplish everything you need to get done and take on an extra task(s)? If the answer is no, it’s ok to say NO.

You don’t have to help your friends move, you don’t have to take on seven extra projects at work, and you don’t have to sit on the PTA. Respond with an offer of how you CAN help, but don’t feel obligated to offer anything other than a NO. People will still like you, I promise.

And if you’re still stuck, here are some helpful articles on how to say no:

Sleep

You know it’s important to sleep but you can’t. You have just one more thing to do, or your mind won’t shut down, or you’ve overscheduled yourself. Lack of sleep causes more than just sleepiness and irritability; it also stifles your creativity, focus, and memory; and you’re setting yourself up for being sick – who has time for THAT?

Break the cycle. Determine your bedtime and then stick to that bedtime like glue for a week, or until you can make it a habit.

Still can’t sleep? Check out these helpful articles:

Originally Published on The Cultural Hall 6/18/14