Declutter Your Mind With This Simple Trick | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Declutter Your Mind With This Simple Trick

One of the biggest sources of clutter and disorganization in my life is my own brain. It might be just me, but if I don't write down the things I need to do, they simply won't get done. I have learned that if something pops into my mind that I should do, that I should immediately write it down or it will be lost within a few seconds.


Because of this little quirk of mine, I have forgotten so many things in my life. From things like forgetting to write thank you notes, to forgetting to pay a bill, to forgetting to go to my daughter's school play. Some things are not terribly important, but would be nice to remember to do (thank you notes). Other things are pretty important, though the world doesn't end if you forget. You'll just have to pay a late fee and try better next month (forgotten bills). Other things are the most important ever, and if you don't do them, you may not ever get another chance. And even 5 years later, your daughter still writes about the time you forgot to come to her first grade play whenever she has a writing prompt that reminds her of it.

But forgetting anything--big or small--makes me feel pretty terrible.

My old system was to use my planner for scheduling and random slips of paper all over my desk, my purse, my planner, and my fridge for all of the other to-do items. An important part of my old system was never actually looking at any of it.

The act of writing things down helped some, but most of it remained forgotten.


My new system is to have both my planner (I have written extensively about the different planners I have used, and which I like best. To read it click here: Choosing a Planner That's Right for You) and a to-do journal. The most important part of my system is to actually refer to both books often. I know that's a no-brainer, but, it's kind of like the silly warnings on packages and still has to be said.

Planner


My planner contains my schedule mostly. Each day is divided into three sections. I use the first section for my own schedule, the second one is for my kids' schedules, and the third one is for "other." "Other" can mean my husband's schedule if it's important for me to know, but it is most often things like no school, or other random notes I need for that particular day.

This is my favorite planner. To purchase one click here: Mom on the Go Planner


There is a to-do section down the side, and since my planner is always with me, but my to-do journal is not, I add things there that I transfer over to the to-do journal each night.

Sometimes I put the Really Important Must Do Now Or Else action items in the spaces along the top. Like registering Sophia for Girl Scouts. Mostly I just use those spaces for writing down quotes I like or thoughts I have.

I force myself to look at my planner every night before bed, and every morning before getting ready. I'm really good at having appointments that aren't normal for me just fall out of my brain. Even if I did look at my planner in the morning. In those cases, I try to also set an alert on my phone. But, nothing is foolproof, because I totally missed Bria's make-up violin lesson last week.

I'm still working on it, obviously. This is why I force myself to look at the planner often!

(Love planners as much as I do? Follow my planners board on Pinterest!)

To-do Journal


My to-do journal is simply an ongoing to-do list in a pretty notebook. Because I love houndstooth, I couldn't resist buying this gorgeous houndstooth hardcover journal. I bought it at WalMart, and it's no longer available, but this one and this one are pretty good options, and moleskine notebooks like this one are all the rage right now--especially for bullet journals. But, really, any notebook would do.

This ongoing notebook is the simplest way for me to keep everything I have to do on paper and out of my brain. It lives by my bed at night, because it never fails that as soon as I get all snuggled in and turn off my lamp my brain wakes up and reminds me of all the things. This way I can sit up and write them down and go back to sleep with a more peaceful brain.



I used to just ignore all the things when this happened, but that was a mistake, because by morning I had forgotten all the things.

Now, I have all the things in one place. The key is (obviously) to actually look at them. I try to make myself do at least five items on the list each night before bed. Most of them are simple enough to do: pay certain bills, write thank you notes, clean the microwave, send a text or an email. Others take a little more planning and preparation, but they stay on the list until they are crossed off.



Every time I turn the page, I date the top of it with the current date. If something still hasn't been done after two pages, I cross it out and add it to the new page so that it doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

I only use the right-hand page for the to-do list. The left-hand page is kind of a stream of consciousness place. On the above photo it contains ideas for a Happiness Project I am participating in, the books I need some of my voice students to purchase, and what Sophia was supposed to practice on her violin that week.

This works well for me. I feel I'm able to get all of that mental clutter down on paper and actually get it done and be productive. It's the best "system" I've ever used for my to-do list, and it's so very simple! I love it!

How do you get rid of the mental clutter?



Find all of the posts in this 31 Day Challenge here: A Place for Everything: 31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace.



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26 comments :

  1. This is a great idea to stay organize.

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  2. Alexandra StaceyThu Oct 16, 01:01:00 PM

    Lara- this series is so inspiring! I have been feeling so overwhelmed with stuff lately, and we have decided to do a "great purge" of our clutter before Thanksgiving this year. Thank you for sharing everything!!

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  3. Such great ideas! Time management is definitely my weakness.

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  4. Oh I love this... decluttering our minds. I need to write things down too or they are out of my mind. And it's getting worse the older I get LOL. I like the idea of a to-do journal. I usually do this digitally so I don't have to rewrite things when they don't get done. But I forget to look at it sometimes so a paper version might be better.

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  5. I have tried to use my phone for this kind of thing, but I just never look at it. Something about analog/paper works best for me with planning and organizing. Though I'm sure digital organizers are fabulous for many people, I am not that person!

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  6. Thank you! I'm glad you're finding it helpful. Good luck with your great purge!

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  7. Great tips for keeping track of the 1,001 things we all need to do!

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  8. This is a great idea to stay organize.

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  9. Alexandra StaceyFri Oct 17, 01:07:00 AM

    Lara- this series is so inspiring! I have been feeling so overwhelmed with stuff lately, and we have decided to do a "great purge" of our clutter before Thanksgiving this year. Thank you for sharing everything!!

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  10. Mandee Racer PogueFri Oct 17, 01:07:00 AM

    Such great ideas! Time management is definitely my weakness.

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  11. Oh I love this... decluttering our minds. I need to write things down too or they are out of my mind. And it's getting worse the older I get LOL. I like the idea of a to-do journal. I usually do this digitally so I don't have to rewrite things when they don't get done. But I forget to look at it sometimes so a paper version might be better.

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  12. Christine @ Rustic & RefinedFri Oct 17, 01:14:00 AM

    Great tips for keeping track of the 1,001 things we all need to do!

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  13. I have tried to use my phone for this kind of thing, but I just never look at it. Something about analog/paper works best for me with planning and organizing. Though I'm sure digital organizers are fabulous for many people, I am not that person!

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  14. Thank you! I'm glad you're finding it helpful. Good luck with your great purge!

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  15. Laura @ Little Bits of GranolaFri Oct 17, 06:40:00 AM

    I LOVE the way you use your to-do journal with your lists on the right and stream of though on the left. I am going to try this. Also, I like your planner. I just got a Plum Paper Planner, which is similar to the Erin Condren Life Planner from what I hear, and I like it but I'm still getting used to having to write smaller. :)

    I'm new to your blog, and I am really enjoying your 31 Days series!

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  16. Another reader mentioned the Plum Paper Planners on my post about planners. I have seen them and they look good! I love planners so much. :)

    I'm glad you're here and enjoying this series! Nice to know some people are following along--I hope the to-do journal helps you. It has been great for me since I started using it.

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  17. I have been researching different systems and I think this is it, thank you! One question, you cross off a task when completed instead of check marking it. Do you do anything different to those items you haven't completed in two days when you cross them off and add to new page? I know some people use color pens, etc. to distinguish completion vs. Transferring so wondering if you do anything to differentiate? And do you Inc on corporate a way to prioritize within list? Thanks again!

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  18. My goal was to keep it as simple as possible, so I don't do anything different to denote that it's something that has been on the list longer. Besides, I usually know because it's nagging at me that I haven't done the darn thing yet!

    That said, I do sometimes highlight items with a highlighter if they are more important and I need to do them sooner than later.

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  19. Hi there! This is basically the same system I use, from the planner, to the to do list on the right and the stream of consciousness on the left. The only thing different from me is I categorize my lists page into the four corners of the page so I can focus on different areas of my life, including work and personal or special topics like Christmas.

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  20. Kristy BoxbergerSat Jan 24, 03:24:00 PM

    I love this, as a big fan of paper and handwriting, but I don't carry two notebooks. That would just be too much for me.

    Kristy
    aka Giftie Etcetera

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  21. We all have to find the system that works best for us, true enough. I don't actually carry around the to-journal with me much, though sometimes I bring it to work with me. It mostly stays at home since that is where I do most of the tasks that are in it.

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  22. I have my day to day journal in my purse and my to-do journal digitally on my phone :) Wunderlist is a pretty good app for that, it allows you to make as many separate lists as you need and add/check as you please.

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  23. I love that a digital to-do list works well for you. I've tried that app, along with several others and I am hopeless! I have learned that the very act of writing things down works best for me.

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  24. This is one of those post I stumble upon on Pinterest & it makes me think "Why haven't I been doing this?". I do the planner part, but the To-Dos journal bedside is amazing. Thank you!

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