As organized as I am, (and if you know me at all, you will know I am very organized), even someone like me who has to have a place for everything and everything in its place . . . I also, occasionally, every once-in-a-while, manage to accumulate a pile of clutter. Yikes! That is hard to admit, but it is true.
Clutter comes in all shapes and sizes.
It sneaks in all around us – through paper, junk, emotions, and thoughts. We cannot escape it because “stuff” bombards us all day long. I personally get frustrated when my desk starts to pile up because I like to clear it off each night. So, I began to take notice.
What was I leaving in a pile? And why?
Sorting through the papers, it hit me. This is all the stuff I don’t want to deal with right now. It included things I didn’t know what to do with, or I just didn’t want to do, or it carried some emotional weight. That’s when procrastination sets in and instead of dealing with these tasks head-on, I chose to put them in a pile. At least now I know why my clutter and piles start to grow.
We can have physical, mental, and emotional clutter.
Each of these areas have things in common and we can deal with all of them in some similar ways.
- Physical clutter: papers, bills, magazines, clothes, toys, shoes, etc. Basically anything that you can hold in your hand is physical clutter.
- Mental clutter: thoughts, to-do’s, stress, upcoming deadlines, etc. Anything you are thinking about constantly or several times a day is mental clutter.
- Emotional clutter: feelings, worry, anxiety, stress, shame, guilt, etc. All those issues that impact our emotions that we carry around with us is emotional clutter.
It is easiest to deal with PHYSICAL clutter because we can see it, touch it, and feel it, but this works for MENTAL and EMOTIONAL clutter too!
To quickly deal with this type of clutter, BOX IT UP! I learned this tip from a friend. She would come over and help me with my scrapbooking business and while we were busy cutting paper and preparing for a class, my workspace would get a little messy. She suggested that instead of having all these little places of piles, just put the piles in one place, a box, so that everything looked clean. I did this and instantly felt better! Then I took the box and put things away one at a time.
- Boxing things up clears up your view. When we clear our line of vision, we do feel better and not overwhelmed. It allows us to take a moment and experience how good it is to have everything done and put away.
- Boxing things up allows you to focus on one thing. Instead of seeing all the piles of clutter, you see the top thing. The box contains the clutter and you can just deal with one thing.
- Boxing things up helps us to prioritize. When you go through the box, you will notice that we tend to do the things that must be done right away. We prioritize without really thinking about it. The most important things rise to the top.
Caution: you must empty the box.
The box is not a solution for avoiding uncomfortable tasks. Those tasks must be done, otherwise you wouldn’t have them in your box. Try to tackle the harder tasks as quickly as possible. Make them fun or ask for help. It may be worth it to pay someone to do them if possible. But don’t continue to avoid them.
Boxing things up is NOT long-term storage!
Set a deadline for you to empty this box. Really push yourself to do those things you keep procrastinating. (I am speaking to myself here too!)
Boxing things up works for mental and emotional clutter too!
Our minds are full of thoughts, worry, stress, to-do lists, expectations, and the list goes on. How can you use this “box method” for your mind? I like to use a notebook and write everything that is going on in my head down on to paper. Just get it all out of your head and into your notebook. The notebook is your “box” for your head. The same steps can be applied to this list.
You will feel relief and a sense of calm when you box up the clutter.
Remember, though, we are not avoiding our tasks. We are just dealing with them on our terms, with a clear view, one at a time, and prioritized.
Now, it is time for me to clear my workspace and box it all up.
Featured photo by Lia Trevarthen on Unsplash.
There are days that I am not organized enough to know what to do first. Some days are overwhelming because I have so much to do. Other days I am distracted and put my priorities to the side for someone else. Ugh! It is hard to have a productive day, day after day after day.
So, when those troublesome times appear, I have had to come up with a strategy to make the most out of a challenging day.
I love being home and working from home.
I love the opportunity to mingle work with personal appointments and get up early or stay up late to meet a deadline. For me, I am at my most productive self when I am working at home. But there is a drawback. It is sometimes easy to push a task to the next day or even week. There is always tomorrow.
It is easy to procrastinate, and that bad habit is hard to break.
If something doesn’t get done today, I can do it tomorrow. Without a boss to tell me it has to be done by five o’clock, it is difficult to push off that last minute invitation for lunch. I found myself getting further and further behind where I wanted to be.
I started to get behind on my goals.
I had to have a sit down with myself and reexamine why I wanted to build this business. I had to rediscover my passion and start saying no to going out for lunch. With my tasks piling up, I had to figure out how I was going to catch up on the work I procrastinated to do.
My solution was to make an all-encompassing to-do list.
I love a to-do list! I went through all my piles of papers, notes, email and bills. I organized the piles into categories and then wrote down each task on my to-do list. It was long. The next day, I woke up excited to get working but I no longer felt ambitious.
My motivation died because I felt overwhelmed.
My to-do list was just too long and instead of feeling excited, I felt discouraged. I was overwhelmed. That day turned out to be unproductive. The next morning, I woke up with the same feeling, but instead of doing nothing, I decided to focus on just one thing. It worked because that “one thing” motivated me to do the next thing, and the next, and the next. I had a very productive day and my mojo was coming back.
I continued to focus on one thing each day for the rest of the week.
Some days are so much more productive than other days. Some tasks just take more time. But at the end of the day, that “one thing” gets done. And that is very motivating.
I am calling this my “today’s focus” task.
Today’s focus was to write this blog. I will probably get more done before the day is over, but I know my main focus is complete. Not every day needs a push; most days are fine, and I follow my work schedule. But on the days when I feel overwhelmed, I decide what my focus will be for that day and I get it done. Anything more is just the gravy on top.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, instead of shutting down and doing nothing. Try to focus on just one thing. At the end of the day, you will feel good that at the very least, you accomplished your task.
Featured photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash.
I take my dog outside about four times a day. When I bump into someone (usually because they are walking their dog), I have noticed that as we part ways, one of us says, “Stay healthy.” Do you remember anyone saying that phrase before this pandemic?
Right now, more than ever before, people are focused on staying healthy. No one wants to get the coronavirus, so fingers are crossed, masks are on, and hands are washed. This focus on health is to avoid getting sick, but another way to focus on health is to be proactive and take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Here are four areas to consider for attaining a balanced and healthy body and mind.
During this stressful time, many people are joking about eating ten meals a day because of sheltering in place and having nothing to do. We eat when we are bored. If our emotions are becoming a little melancholy, we crave something sweet in order to feel better. We eat when we are emotional. With so much time on our hands, many people are spending more time watching tv or playing video games. We eat when we are in front of the tv.
Just as the events going on around us influence our eating habits, our eating habits influence how we will feel. When we eat healthy, we feel good and generally, have more productive days. This is why it is especially important to eat well during times of stress.
Take a look at your diet and try to eat well each day. Reduce the amount of sugar you eat. Take care of your body so it will be strong and capable of fighting off sickness. Here is a link to another blog post about eating salad every day.
It is fun to be home when it is snowing or raining outside and cuddle up with a blanket, movie, or a good book. It is not fun (even though it is necessary) when we must stay home for seven weeks and counting. This can cause anyone to become a couch potato, but it is important for our mental and physical health to stay active.
Each day focus on staying active by moving. Even though gyms are closed, there are plenty of things we can do at home. Take a walk or jog. Ride a bike. Exercise while watching tv. Do jumping jacks, sit-ups, or push-ups. Use a workout app to give you some motivation. It doesn’t matter how you choose to do it, just stay active every day.
I think the best kept secret of life is meditation. It is a secret because most people have a preconceived idea of what it is so are not inclined to try it. I discovered that meditation is simply a way to clear your mind and sit quietly for ten minutes. Seems simple, but the effects are profound.
Especially now, when our minds could be filled with worry or anxiety, mediation is an essential part of staying healthy. I recommend Headspace but there are other meditation apps available. Now is a great time to try mediation.
Here are some related links about mediation and nature.
Our sleep gets interrupted when we are under stress. We may toss and turn throughout the night and then wake up in the morning feeling more exhausted than when we went to bed. A good night of sleep can do wonders for mental and physical health.
The best tip for sleep (that has helped me) is going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. My body automatically feels tired at the same time each night.
Here is a recent blog post about sleep.
These four areas, eating well, staying active, meditating, and sleeping deeply, will make you stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. Instead of self-medicating with chocolate or wine, Try making better lifestyle choices and take care of yourself during these difficult weeks. Even if you just do a little bit more for yourself each day, your effort will be worth the results.
Take care of you and “stay healthy.”
Featured photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash.
I recently returned from a relaxing vacation. It was so nice to wake up each day and have someone else do the cooking, cleaning, and planning for the day. That’s why it is called a vacation. We get to rest from our daily responsibilities and just enjoy someone else taking care of us.
For the past week, I have had a hard time motivating myself to get back into my work routine. I feel like my feet are dragging behind me and my heart is just not in it. (I am also out of my non-dairy creamer for my coffee!)
So, I had to ask myself, “Why am I not motivated?” I love what I do. I am excited about the products I am working on right now. Many doors are open so what is wrong with me?
This took me to my desk where I pulled out my paper and marker. (I love writing with color!) I wrote at the top, “What Motivates Me?” And of course, here comes the list of things that motive me to get up in the morning and approach the day with excitement.
- Give yourself a deadline. The week before my trip was a super productive week. I had a limited amount of time to get an enormous to-do list finished. There was no room for excuses. I just had to get it done before leaving on my trip. So, guess what?! I just did it. I couldn’t talk myself into procrastinating or telling myself I didn’t feel like doing something. I just had to get it done and so I did. The motivating factor here is that I had a deadline that could not be moved.
- Eat your frog. This phrase comes from the book called, Eat That Frog, written by Brian Tracy. Here is a link to a blog post explaining the concept in more detail: Blog: Eat Your Frog Basically, this means to do the thing that you really don’t want to do, first. Get it over with! Do it first so the rest of your day will be more productive.
- Make a plan. When I am overwhelmed with what I need to get done, I make a plan or a list (you know by now that I LOVE a list!) Taking all the to-do’s out of my head and putting them onto paper helps me to move through the tasks with a clear mind. I often use this weekly planning sheet that you can print from my freebies section: Weekly Planning Sheet After one week, I am back on track!
- Stop overthinking. When I am unmotivated, there are usually emotions involved. I start thinking too much and talking myself into or out of doing what I need to do. Fear sets in. Blah, blah, blah. Just yesterday I was journaling about going to the gym, that I hadn’t been in a few weeks, that I really needed to get back in my routine, etc. As I was complaining about going to the gym, I just got up and went. It felt so good to just do it and stop thinking about it.
- Reward the victories. It is important that we associate our victories with a positive response. Sometimes we get the response from external sources such as getting positive reviews for a creative work or receiving an award for something. Other times our victories go unnoticed, so we need to reward ourselves. We may step on the scale and finally see the number we want, or we finished that project from last year around the house. Before beginning a task that you are dreading, decide up front how you will reward yourself for your accomplishment.
- Search out the why. An important part of goal setting is knowing “why” you want to reach this goal. The “why” is what keeps us striving for this goal even when it feels difficult. Write it out and keep this visible. It will remind you and motivate you to keep going.
- How will you feel when “it” is done? When I do not feel like going to the gym, (ie: it is cold and rainy outside), I remind myself of how I feel when I am leaving the gym. I feel strong and proud of myself. When you are facing a task or project and you just don’t have the juice to get started, ask yourself, “How will I feel when it is done?”
- Take your first step. A Harvard psychologist, Jerome Bruner, said, “You’re more likely to act yourself into feeling than feel yourself into action.” So often, people wait to begin something until they “feel” like doing it. I was one of those people. I thought my emotions needed to line up for me to be ready. I was wrong. Now, I take a baby step and suddenly, my feelings rise to the challenge!
Motivation is a tricky thing! It is all about feelings. When we take our feelings out of the equation and just begin, we allow ourselves the space to accomplish great things. Nike had it right! “Just do it!!”
I hope you are motivated or at least found one tip to help you move forward. If you have found something to add to this list, please, please, please share it with us!
Featured photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash.
“Take risks. If you win, you will be happy. If you lose, you will be wise.”
It’s leap year! We get an extra day this year! What will you do with your extra day today? Thinking about having an “extra” day made me think about taking risks. (I don’t know where my mind gets this stuff, but there it is.)
If there is “extra” of something, then we can take a risk without worrying about wasting it or losing it. So, this leap year, with our extra day, we have the opportunity to try something new and take a risk with it.
While journaling today, make a list of things that hold you back and risks you want to take. Then write about what might happen if you take those risks. There could be positive and negative outcomes for those risks, but either way the risks offer a learning opportunity. The possibilities are most likely so much more than just that, but without taking the leap, we will never know what is possible.
That’s it for today. I am now going to write in my journal. So, I am challenging myself as I challenge you to take the leap and take a risk!
Featured photo by Erik Dungan on Unsplash.
When I was younger I had a pink diary with a key. I could lock the pages so I felt safe writing my secret thoughts and feelings. No one else could see what I wrote.
Today, we don’t have diaries; we have journals. By definition, journaling is keeping a record of daily experiences, thoughts, and activities. People no longer need a locking diary to journal because they openly share their lives on social media. The need for a key to lock up our thoughts isn’t necessary when we post online for the world to read, but this isn’t appealing to everyone.
Some of us like the idea of pen and paper.
There are all kinds of journals. Some are just blank for you to designate as you wish or just write your daily thoughts. Other journals have a theme or specific purpose like a gratitude journal. There are also nature journals, art journals, or dream journals.
Journaling is a healthy habit that helps to clear our minds and record our thoughts. The process of putting our feelings into words is amazingly therapeutic. It is one way to document our lives and, in some ways, gives our lives meaning and value.
The best way to make this a daily habit is to set aside a block of quiet time to dedicate to your journal. Ten minutes is all you need, but sometimes you may start writing and want to spend longer with your journal.
So, pick up a journal, your favorite pen, and empty your mind on to the paper. It doesn’t matter how you journal, when you journal, what you journal, etc. All that matters is that you give it a try!
Featured photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash.