What is the true cost of clutter? I am designing a course to help people get rid of their brain and physical clutter. I have felt the burden of having too much stuff in my house. Things that I do not use, might not work, might not fit anymore- all take up physical space in my home. It can feel crowded in some rooms. The paper piles, , reference stuff that whole section of paper information that I save: can take up energetic space- do I really need to keep all that stuff- do I know what is in those piles or files? Are they useful to me? Can I find something when i need it? I have started on the easy things- for me- clothes- what really fits- looks good and is useful. It feels really good to sort through and give away things that someone else could wear instead of taking up space in my closet. This feels like the right time of year to make thoughtful decisions on what is useful in my life and what I need to let go of. More to come
I work with some people, who have memory loss. What I have learned is that activity has to have a function to make sense to my clients. Doing something without a reason or not being able to connect that activity to what they want to do is a flop. So walking outside is enjoyable, tossing a ball is a natural reaction, while lifting leg weights does not have a strong connection to daily needs. What if I took that lesson into my own life? How much time do I spend doing things that make sense and bring purpose to my life? How much of my time is busy time, filling up the space with activity without understanding what it does for me? Do I stop to ask – how does this activity fit into my life’s purpose? A curious exercise would be to start paying attention to the value of how I spend my time. I challenge you to do the same. If you placed a higher value on your time: what things would you do more of and what things would you stop doing? Try making a list- it is amazing the difference when you take ideas out of your head and put them in front of you on paper. Then pay attention to where your time goes and how you spend it. Why am I more careful with my money and so careless with my time?
How do you know that you are stuck in over whelm? I know when it happens to me. I shut down. I cannot make a decision, no matter how small. Every project seems to be too big to start and I don’t know how to decide which project needs my attention first.
Overwhelm feels like a NJ roundabout where you keep missing your turn so you just drive faster because none of the choices seem like the right one.
The big question is how to you get out of overwhelm and stop driving in circles? Step One- recognize your early warning signals that you are headed towards overwhelm. Define what that means and feels like for you. Step Two- stop everything and step back to look at the big picture. It is easy to get caught up in busy and moving fast without stopping to plan first. The stop and plan part will help you make decisions ahead of time on where to best spend your time. What if you only had time to get one thing done today? Would you know what thing was the most important? Or would you fill that time with busy work, instead of high priority work. Step Three- Be realistic about what you really can accomplish every day. Keep your do to lists short and prioritize.
When I am at my best, I spend two hours of the week planning. Just thinking and organizing my time for the week ahead. I like to say I only think hard once a week. Then I can just follow the action steps and work through the list as time allows. My other best process is breaking down projects into smaller steps. I can see progress when I can accomplish one step at a time. Moving forward happens one step and one day at a time. It feels good to pay attention to that progress and be grateful for what I did accomplish everyday instead of what I did not.
When I talk to my parents and inquire about how they are doing in general or in any specific area: the answer is always we are fine, just fine. What I observe when I am with them is the difference of how they move or operate now compared to previous years. I see a big difference. Is this fine because they really think everything is OK or because they have accepted the changes and I have not?
This is where our communication dance becomes complex. I think we are in a dance where I try to uncover issues and they cover or minimize any issues that come up. My big laugh comes because this is our family pattern in exact reverse. Growing up, my parents asked the questions and I covered up at every opportunity and minimized any issues I had.
I think every family has their practiced communication patterns. I have found they get mixed up or turned upside down as we all slide into different roles based on aging needs and changing abilities.
So, what do you do now? I have found listening and really listening is what gives me the best idea of how my parents are doing. I try to be curious about a topic and ask with interest instead of demanding to know why something happened. This practice has met my need for getting more depth of information from just phone conversations.
Try stepping back and looking at your current communication patterns with your family? Are they working? What would happen if you practiced just listening?
How much sleep do you need? I know that 8 hours works the best for me. Besides the time asleep, there is the quality of sleep. When I have settled the day and have put aside my mental projects for the night, I sleep through the night and wake up refreshed. If I have too many unfinished projects or small undone things hanging around in my brain, they tend to float up at 2 am and start making a lot of noise in my head. This means I start losing my sleep time because my brain is keeping my body from what it needs for full power energy. So here are a few ideas for getting rid of pesky middle of the night brain drains.
My strategies for getting a good night sleep.
Plan on going to sleep 8 hours before the alarm goes off.
Stop doing any project or mental brainstorming two hours before bedtime.
I think of my projects as steps. Every day I only need to complete one or more step of a project, so my brain can relax about the things that are scheduled for another time.
Leave yourself notes or a text for something you need to see the next day
Spend a few minutes at the end of each day recognizing what I have accomplished for the day
Create a routine before going to sleep that your body recognizes as the slowing down and getting ready to end the day.
I like to do a few stretches, set out projects for the next day and practice gratitude for all the things in the day that I am grateful for
This year I have found a meditation tape that I am listening to as I lay in bed. It is only 10 minutes long. What I love is hearing the sound of someone telling me it is time to put the day to rest. My favorite phrase is,” Where ever you are, whatever you are doing, remember there is nothing you need to do and no place you need to go right now. Just that concept gives my body and brain the signal to let the day go and settle into a restful calm place of relaxation.
So what are your strategies that support a full night’s sleep?
Do you need a structure that helps you get full rest? That is a lot of what I do as a coach, help people identify actions that will support what they know they need to do for health and full energy.
Gwen is a life coach that helps people find balance in health, work and play
Contact her at email@example.com for information about the next healthy habits for busy people class
Resolution List- Do you start out the New Year with a long list of things that you want to accomplish? Here are some ideas to help you feel good about your resolutions.
1. Think big
Have two or three overall themes that guide your actions all year long. Post them up where you can read them every morning and reflect on them every evening. Give yourself a gold star for everyday that you accomplish one of the big items.
Here are my personal favorites-
Speak up about the positives
Make deliberate choices
Do one hard thing every day
Set up intentions for the day before I get out of bed
Practice gratitude at the end of every day
Make quiet time for me
Be kind and honest
Before I make that snap judgment- consider I don’t know the whole story
Give myself credit for what I did accomplish
Listen more than I talk
Ask more questions
Connect with friends and family
Spend more time with fun people and less time with people who complain
The second plan I have this year is to focus on one area each month. January is energy month.
I am tracking the situations and jobs that I get excited and energized to do.
I am also paying attention to the things that I ignore or put off again and again.
I am going to let that list guide how I spend my time and what things I agree to do for others. I want to learn what things are of the highest value for me and what things I need to give away or stop doing all together.