Just like there is something to be said for positive reinforcement, there is also something said for accomplishing what you set out to accomplish in a day or period of time.
Doing what you need to when you planned to is freeing. You feel like you have time to think, read, play, go to the beach, enjoy a cigar, etc., all without feeling burdened or “guilty” for doing so.
Mental clutter is a real thing. Things you know you need to do, have been putting off, or don’t have time to do, are piling up. You seem and feel frantic. You can’t sleep at night due to everything you need to do the next day, and when you want to do what you need to do, you freeze just thinking about everything that you need to do. Mental clutter is a real, and annoying, thing.
We battle mental clutter by using task managers. For some this is a pad of paper and a pen or pencil. For others it is an app on their phone, tablet, or computer. And for the very few it is on a “list” in their brain.
Yet somehow, with an endless selection of tools available to help us manage our responsibilities so we can focus on doing our responsibilities, we are still feeling burdened by everything we need to do. So what is the problem? What is missing from the tools at our disposal? What feature is lacking?
Yes, you. Our brains, when operating at maximum efficiency, are more powerful than modern day computers. They operate at the speed of light and can remind us of all sorts of things, like the things we need to do. Yet when we sit down with the purpose of doing something, and depending on the amount of sleep you had the night before, the brain can go into “let’s put this off for another day” mode. This is when you begin to become stressed.
The feature lacking in task management systems is you and your ability to get the amount of sleep you need, your ability to prioritize your list based on the time you know you have, and your discipline to kick your brain into gear when it may need a kick in the pants.
For me, the biggest way I’ve learned to battle mental clutter is to set realistic expectations for myself and the people I work for (paid and volunteer). This is just one way to free yourself from mental clutter and stress regarding things you need to do. Be honest with what you can do when, and be honest with the quality of work you want to produce for each task. Then create an expectation and schedule that will allow you to do what you need to do and in a stress-free, almost enjoyable, manner. Do this today.
(And feel free to share your tips for getting things done in the comments below…this post is just the tip of the iceberg.)