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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« What Happens When Your Time is Crammed and Overscheduled? | Is It Time to Declutter Your Weeds for Remarkable Growth? »

Unique Way to Manage Mind Clutter

There’s something so luxurious about a long weekend, isn’t there? Just knowing we have one extra day makes it seem like time is suspended. For me that additional non-work day makes me feel less rushed. Do you know what I mean?

The “less rushed” feeling also extends to my inner thoughts. Slowing the pace down, for even a little bit, helps me manage my mind clutter.  This past weekend I was able to ignore my running list of to dos that occupied my thoughts. I’ll admit that I began the weekend with a very long list of things I hoped to accomplish. In the end, there were very few I actually did because frankly, I needed a break from my list. Have you ever experienced that?

Instead of pursuing the joy of getting my list done, I opted to ignore the list and let the days unfold- guilt-free. It felt like a vacation. I spent most of the weekend outside doing yard work with my husband, Steve. I enjoyed not doing anything from my list. I wondered what life would be like if one day I didn’t have a list. Was that even possible? If I had nothing to do, how would that feel? Would I invent things to do because I’m used to being busy? It was hard to even imagine. These days especially there’s always something to do. There’s always next. I’m never done.

This past weekend, I was able to let go of the mind clutter by letting go of the need to work my list.  I loved being outside with Steve, using my hands, digging in the dirt, planting flowers, trimming trees and shrubs, and taking breaks when I felt like it. The pace was just right. There was nothing pulling me in another direction. The zen of the moment worked its magic on my mind clutter.

As I get ready for the week, my list is long, but my mind is clear. I’m relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready for the days ahead.

How do you manage your mind clutter? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation.





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Reader Comments (13)

This is a tough one, as I actually enjoy the process of accomplishing... but it is important to unplug. Getting outside is the best way to draw me away from my list. At the same time, the best way to get the clutter out of my mind is to write it down, because then I don't worry about forgetting it. For me, the key is to capture the thought, then continue on.

May 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

Is a necessity forget the to-do list in some occasions. I've learned many things aren't in my control and can't pretend fitting them in a list. From time to time having the freedom of choosing what I want to do instead of what I must to do is mind liberating feeling no guilt at the end of the day.
Following no lists sometimes, is the perfect exercise to free the mind and enjoy life.

May 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

I posted recently on Facebook about being distracted from a non-deadline task by one thing, then another, then another. In the end I got the task done plus several others. All in all it was quite a pleasant free-form day. Most of my organizing colleagues pointed out how much time I had wasted in order to save a few bucks. (The original goal was to take a photo involving my kitchen sink, which needed to be cleaned first, so as to not have to pay for a stock photo.) But I maintain that if all the things really needed doing, and all of them needed doing that day, and if I had no scheduled appointments that day, it didn't matter what order I did them in and no time at all was wasted.

May 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHazel Thornton

Linda we had very similar experiences only a weekend apart. Our long weekend in Canada was 16th,17th, 18th. I find ignoring social media quiets my mind of clutter. That constant drum of social media can be exhausting, and I to love getting my hands in the dirt and planting my herbs and vegetables.

May 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

Linda, this is a great discussion. I agree with Seana. I LOVE working my list and to make sure I free my mind I write my list using a pen and paper. I also agree with you, Nacho, and Hazel. Sometimes it's necessary to put aside the list and do whatever you feel like doing. There are a few things I like to do - garden and needlepoint. My mind will wander as I do these activities and I often come up with wonderful creative solutions when I let my thoughts go where they will. It's refreshing to me.

May 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

Some people have so much mind clutter that they can't appreciate the value of a spontaneous, spacious morning. "Too much to do!" they say.
Acknowledging mind clutter is the first step to doing something about it but unlike a room of clutter stepping away from the clutter in the mind can whisk much of it away. Mindfulness or the act of just being present doing something you love is a powerful antidote to 'too much on the brain'.

As always great discussions, friend.
Best, Cam

May 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCameron Gott

It’s ironic to read your blog the morning after a long weekend; yours is a topic I’ve thought about a lot these last few days.

I'm a very solo person (work alone, live alone) and I tend to schedule stuff well in advance; my calendar is usually full. About a week ago I sort of woke up to the fact that I was looking at a 3-day weekend with nothing planned! Ack! Long, unstructured weekends aren’t usually easy for me. I made calls to see if I could meet with friends, etc., and filled a couple of spots but still had a lot of open time.

I made a "to do" list for a very caught-up desk and completed that within a few hours. I went running, hit golf balls, saw a stupid movie, and started reading for my book club. I paid attention to my thoughts and feelings throughout the weekend. I recognized that I used to look at unstructured time as though there were something I’m not doing enough, or there’s more I should be/could be doing! A friend once suggested that I act more like human-doing, than human, be-ing. (okay, so we’re not friends anymore).

This weekend I was able to gratefully acknowledged that I am enough, that I'm comfortable with downtime and don't have to berate myself for not doing more. I was in the presence of my “be-ing” and I was really cool with that. xo

May 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRegina Lark

Linda, Loving this post today. We had a blissfully unscheduled relaxing weekend, complete with long walks, working in the garden, reading a complete novel and hanging with our kids.

In years past, I would have been pushing to go-go-go or do-do-do, but not this year. My husband even commented to me last night about this shift and how much I've learned to relax. He also commented on how much he appreciates my new way of being, which more closely mirrors his way of being. I have to admit I like it too. ; )

Today back in my office, I felt myself beginning to pay the price though for setting aside the list for 3 days. After spending much of the day paying attention to what I was experiencing - low energy and a growing sense of frustration with how much I have to do - I found myself re-examining "the list" and beginning to cross off the less important items even though they were not "done". The world won't end because I opt to not do these things and as a result, I felt a little lighter and certainly less burdened. Choosing to let go of the non-essential was a wonderful way to eliminate mind clutter.

May 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Sharb

What a wonderful gathering! Happy to "see" all of you here.

@Seana- Nature has a way of calming the mind, doesn't it? Agree about writing things down.

@Nacho- Yes! Giving the self a break from the "must dos" and "should dos" IS liberating!

@Hazel- The operative words are "pleasant free-form day." Sometimes it's not about efficiency or even about what makes sense. Sometimes it's about allowing the distractions, especially when we normally don't.

@Jill- Nice! I know what you mean about needed a tech break. And playing in the dirt is a great juxtaposition to staring at the computer screen.

@Diane- Most of us are "list workers." So taking a break from accomplishing in order to allow our minds to "wander" is important. Love that you use gardening and needlepoint as ways to unwind and let creativity flow.

@Cam- Love that you brought the idea of mindfulness to the mind clutter conversation. Being present is a way to help us focus, appreciate and "declutter" our thoughts.

@Regina- What a wonderful description of not just your "doings," but also your awareness around the last several days. A gift indeed to acknowledge your journey to being comfortable with "be-ing."

@Andrea- There's a theme here among this group. We are BIG doers, aren't we? I love your word choices of how you used to push to "go-go-go or do-do-do." I think that rings true for many of us here. It's why for instance I so much needed a break this weekend. You've gone even further with this and integrated a calmer pace on a regular basis. Awesome!

May 26, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I typically spend one weekend per month at my sister's. Often I'm helping her scratch things off her list (digging out dandelions, organizing the workroom, teaching her how to use Twitter) but other times we just hang out. Either way, being away from my list and my regular routine is a great way to clear the mind clutter.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

There is something wonderful about unscheduled time to me! I have each Sunday as my day to not have a list. Also every 3 day weekend we have an extra day of unscheduled time. It's a git of rejuvenation for me.

Loved seeing everyone's responses to your post.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

When my minds starts to feel cluttered, I too write things down. I'll even call the list, things cluttering my head. Its often the little things that niggle away: don't forget to add toothpaste the the shopping list or remember to share something with my husband. It always feels like a relief to get it down. Then I can relax.

I'm glad you enjoyed your weekend outdoors. Once I head to the garden, it's nearly impossible to stop. There is always something to do, and it is always a pleasure doing it.

Great post.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlys Milner

It's wonderful hearing from all of you! I love what you've added to the conversation.

@Janet- You bring up an interesting point. When we focus on other people's lists, it gives us a break from our own lists. Nice. And how lucky too that you have both helping and hanging out time with your sister.

@Ellen- How inspiring! I love how intentional you are about your "unscheduled time." These days it just doesn't seem possible for me, but it's something to work towards. I know just what you mean about the rejuvenating effects a day like that has. Magic!

@Alys- What a great name for your list: "things cluttering my head." I love it! It's so true that those "little things" can occupy so much mental energy. Getting them out of the head and onto paper or another source, relieves some of that mind clutter. Nice to meet another working outdoors appreciator. As you said, it's "a pleasure."

May 28, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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