So here’s the deal, our brains are tricky little things. They bombard us with thoughts constantly. Some thoughts are helpful to us. Some thoughts are not helpful to us becoming who we want to be and having the lives we want to have. Some thoughts are more neutral- a reminder of something coming up that we need to do.
If we keep all of these thoughts in our heads, they will begin to swirl around and we will get overwhelmed and fatigued.
Overwhelm leads to:
- Lack of clarity and focus
Listen to this week’s episode to learn tips to declutter your mind.
In This Podcast
- Multitasking’s effects
- Tip 1: write it down
- Tip 2: notice, label, and let it go
- Tip 3: limit the information you consume
- Tip 4: get out of your mind and into your body
- Tip 5: let go of expectations
A research study found workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers.
Dr. Edward Hallowell is a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of ADHD. He notes in his book “Crazy Busy” multitasking is a mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously.
He coined a term, attention deficit trait, which he claims is rampant in the business world. Never in history has the human brain then asked to track so many data points as it is now.
Multitasking might also be taking a toll on our economy. A study showed that workers took an average of 25 minutes to recover from interruptions and returning to their original task.
Stopping what we’re doing every time we get a notification of our phone takes our brain time to reorient and get back to the activity before we were interrupted.
John Spira, an analyst at a business research firm estimated that extreme multitasking cost the US economy $650 billion a year in lost productivity.
While we might feel more productive when multitasking, we’re simply not able to put 100% of our energy on one task.
Tip 1: write it down
If you think of something that needs to go on your to-do list, write it down. If you can’t, make a note in your phone and set a reminder during a time you’ll be able to write it down. Assign it to a particular time when you will actually do it.
Tip 2: notice, label, and let it go
Tip number two, notice, label, and let it go. Notice if you get hung up on past or future thought. For example, finding yourself replaying a conversation or worrying about an upcoming conversation or meeting.
Once you notice it, label it. Maybe it’s simply “past thoughts” and “future thoughts.” After you label it, let it go. It reality, this simple exercise will take practice. A little bit every day until you get it, but it does work.
Tip 3: limit the information you consume
And intentionally determine when you’re going to consume the information. Electronic devices, and phones in particular, keep us constantly connected to everything that is going on in the world. It has become way too easy to get pulled down the rabbit hole of scrolling through news, timelines, and daily updates.
Being consistently bombarded with information can overload our brains, causing overwhelm, stress, and mental exhaustion. Turn off notifications and decide when you’ll revisit your phone. Monitor your screen time, which can be toggled on in the settings on your phone.
Check your email twice a day. Schedule your social media once or twice a day. Have a quiet time to reflect in a mindful way, without any interruptions.
Tip 4: get out of your mind and into your body
It’s no secret that getting some form of physical activity can help melt worry away. Have you ever dragged yourself to a yoga class or the gym and regretted going after? Not likely. It might take a bit to get motivated, but odds are you’ll feel much more clarity and less worry once you get to the other side of that workout.
Tip 5: let go of expectations
How something ends up is not determined by how much you worry about it or try to manipulate it. Our actions might be one variable in 20 that combined to reach a particular outcome.
Instead set goals one year, three year, 10 year goals. Then reverse engineer the steps you must take to reach these goals. After you break down the steps, let go of the goal and just live the journey every day. Live the steps. This is what you can control and this should be your focus.
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Meet Kathryn Ely
I’m Kathryn Ely and at age 50, I’m enjoying my very best life. I spent years as a lawyer and then stay-at-home mom helping others go out into the world and live their best lives. While this was very important to me, I did not realize that I was losing myself in the process. I followed all of the “shoulds” like “women should always care for others” and “taking time for yourself is just selfish”.
As two of my children were getting ready to go out into the world I realized I was lost, without my next purpose, and it was scary. So I went back to school and over the course of several years, I not only found myself, but I designed the formula for women in midlife to achieve their most fulfilling lives. It is my mission to equip as many women as possible with this design and the tools to make this chapter of their lives the best chapter.
Thanks for listening!
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Welcome back to the imperfect thriving decluttering series. This is episode four of our special series. So far we have decluttered our closet, relationships, and our environment. And I bet for those of you who have completed all episodes and taken imperfect action after each one are feeling lighter, less encumbered, and less stressed.
If you missed these other episodes, you can go back and listen after this episode. Episode 53 was the episode all about decluttering your closet. The reason clearing out your closet is so important is that the clothes we wear affect our moods attitude, confidence level, and how we interact with others.
So check out that episode and learn step-by-step how to decide what to let go of and what to keep so you can absolutely soar in 2021.
Episode 55 was about letting go of relationships. We’re not just affected by toxic relationships or by those we spend the most time with. We are affected by all of our relationships. Check out episode 55 to learn the questions to ask yourself when determining whether to let a relationship go or not. Letting go of relationships that are weighing you down or not helpful to you is one way to move closer to the life that you want. And I’ve created the ultimate self value worksheet along with episode 55.
The foundation, the first necessary step in becoming the person that you want to be, and having the life that you want to have is self-value. If you do not value yourself highly, you will not get where you want to go. If you are struggling to get things done and to reach goals like decluttering, then go grab the worksheet in the show notes of episode 55.
All you have to do is download it and get started immediately. Now, episode 56 was all about decluttering your environment. A cluttered environment negatively affects our mental and physical health. So in episode 56, I explain how this happens and step-by-step how to declutter your environment so that you don’t have to be overwhelmed and you can actually get more done.
Now I want to give a quick shout out to all my friends listening and Canada. I’m so happy to have you listening to the show. And I would absolutely love it if you would DM me on Instagram @imperfectthriving and let me know what you want to hear more of on the show. Once again, thanks for listening.
Let’s get started with decluttering our minds. So, I hope you stay with me until the end because I have an announcement that you will not want to miss. So here’s the deal. Brains are tricky little things. They bombard us with thoughts constantly. Some thoughts are helpful to us. Some thoughts are not helpful to us becoming who we want to be and having the lives that we want to have.
Some thoughts are more neutral or a reminder of something coming up that we need to do, stuff like that. Now, if we keep all of these thoughts in our heads, they begin to swirl around and we become overwhelmed and fatigued. And overwhelm leads to lack of clarity and focus, anxiety and procrastination.
Procrastination of course affects our level of productivity, what we actually get done in a day. Even keeping neutral thoughts in our heads like our, to do lists can lead to stress overwhelm and the belief that I don’t have time. We need to declutter our minds of all of these thoughts so that we can free our minds to focus on the present. The one thing that we are each doing right now, not what we did yesterday or what we need to do tomorrow, being fully present and focusing on only one task at a time is how we are our most clear-minded and productive.
Let’s talk a little bit about multitasking. In 2005, the BBC reported on a research study out of the University of London that found workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers. The psychologist who led the study called this infomania – a serious threat to workplace productivity.
One of the Harvard Business Reviews breakthrough ideas for 2007 was Linda Stone’s notion of continuous partial attention, which might be understood as a subspecies of multitasking. Using a mobile computer power and the internet were constantly scanning for opportunities and staying on top of contacts, events, and activities in an effort to miss nothing.
Dr. Edward Hallowell is a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of ADHD. His book “Crazy Busy” has been offering therapies to combat extreme multitasking for years. In his book, he calls multitasking a mythical activity in which people believe they can perform two or more tasks simultaneously.
He describes a new condition he calls attention deficit trait, which he claims is rampant in the business world. He explains that attention deficit trait is purely a response to the hyperkinetic environment in which we live, which is a hallmark symptom that mimics those of ADHD and ADD. Never in history has the human brain then asked to track so many data points as it is now.
So Hallowell argues this challenge can be controlled only by creatively engineering one’s environment and one’s emotional and physical health. That was a mouthful. Multitasking might also be taking a toll on our economy. One study by researches researchers at UC Irvine monitored office workers as they were interrupted. They found that workers took an average of 25 minutes to recover from interruptions, such as phone calls or answering email and returning to their original task.
So this is not only going to affect office workers, it’s going to affect all of us all the time. If we stop what we’re doing every time we get a notification of our phone, a new text, a new email, and we stop what we’re doing to look at that text or that email.
It takes our brain time to reorient and get back to the activity that we were taking part in before we were interrupted.
John Spira, an analyst at a business research firm discussed multitasking with the New York Times in 2007. He estimated that extreme multitasking, which is like information overload, cost the U S economy $650 billion a year in lost productivity.
And that was 13 years ago. David Meyer at the University of Michigan found that multitasking contributes to the release of stress hormones and adrenaline, which can cause long-term health problems, if not controlled and contributes to the loss of short-term memory. We are really built to focus. And when we focus ourselves to multitask, we’re driving ourselves to perhaps be less efficient in the long run, though it sometimes feels like we’re being more efficient at the time.
Instead of multitasking, we should be practicing the art of paying attention. The art of paying attention, the ability to shift our attention into exercise judgment about what objects are worthy of our attention.
Many who have achieved great things often credited their success on finely honed skill of paying attention. When asked about his particular genius, Isaac Newton responded that if he had made any discoveries, it was, and I quote, “owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.” So the question becomes, how can we declutter our minds so that we can pay sole attention to one activity at a time, one conversation at a time?
Be fully present and actually enjoy our lives rather than always thinking of the past or dividing our present among multiple tasks at once. So, let’s do this.
Here is tip number one to declutter your mind. Write it down. If you think of something that needs to go on your to-do list, go write it down. If you can’t write it down right at that moment, make a note in your phone and set a reminder so that when the reminder comes up, you set the reminder for a time that you’ll be at home.
So when the reminder comes up, you’ll be able to go write it down on a physical calendar. When you write it down, assign it to a particular time when you will actually do it. So tip number one, get it out of your head and down on paper, write it down.
Tip number two, notice, label, and let it go. If you find thoughts hopping into your head about the past or about the future, you know what thoughts I’m talking about. Thinking back on something you said or did that wasn’t perfect. Or worrying about an upcoming conversation or meeting.
I want you to notice it. Label it. Label it, whatever you want. It might be future thinking. It might be past thinking. It might be whatever you want to call it. Label it and let it go. And that sounds simple, right? Well, in theory it is, but in all actuality, it takes practice. A little bit every day until you get it, but it does work.
Notice the thought, label it, let it go. That is tip number two to declutter your mind.
Tip number three, limit the information you consume and intentionally determine when you’re going to consume it. With all of our electronic devices, it is so easy to think that we must be connected with everyone in everything that is going on in the world at all times. Who says?
Now, I know I’m going to show my age here, but when I was a kid with no internet, with no smartphone, with no computer, we would actually stand in line line somewhere without mindlessly scrolling through social media, news clips, YouTube videos. If you wanted to do something when you’re in line, you could people watch, engage in conversation with the person next to you, think, or just breathe.
The number of people with anxiety then was alarmingly lower than it is now. Being constantly bombarded with information can overload our brains, causing overwhelmed stress and exhaustion. One way to declutter your brain is to turn off the notifications and decide when you’re going to check your phone.
Check your email twice a day. Schedule your social media once or twice a day. Have a quiet time to reflect in a mindful way in the morning and at night before bed, without any interruptions. Without any computers or cell phones, with just you and your mind. See what happens. So tip number three. Limit the information you consume and when you consume it.
Tip number four, get completely out of your mind and into your body. I have noticed in myself, the more I exhaust myself physically, the more difficult it is to start worrying. I’ve seen this with my clients as well. The form of therapy I practice is cognitive in nature. It has a thought component to it, but it’s also behavioral. It has an action component to it as well.
When I have clients who are anxious or depressed or overwhelmed, I encourage exercise. I’ve not yet had one client ever returned to my office and say that exercise made her feel worse, made her anxiety increase, or made her depression increase. In fact, everyone returns feeling less anxious and less depressed.
So tip number four, get completely out of your mind and into your body.
Let’s move on to tip number five and that is let go of expectations. How something ends up is not determined by how much you worry about it or try to manipulate it. We spend so much time and brain energy thinking about what we want to happen in the future and how we can somehow create the outcome we want. When our actions might be one variable in 20 that combined to reach a particular outcome.
Instead set goals one year, three year, 10 year goals. Dream big, then reverse engineer the steps you must take to reach these goals. After you break down the steps, let go of the goal and just live the process every day. Live the steps. This is what you can control and this should be your focus.
Let go of trying to control the results that you cannot determine or predict with only your behavior. Now, you know what we need to do to declutter our minds. Decrease the noise, to lower our stress and anxiety levels. Find clarity and focus so that we can get more done and really just be happier and more at peace.
I’m so glad that you’ve spent time hanging out with me today. I hope that you will go out and take imperfect action to declutter your mind, find clarity, and focus. And then visit me right back here for a bonus episode this Sunday, January 31st. The last in our series of decluttering on the 31st and episode 58, we will declutter our calendars.
So until then go out and take daily imperfect action toward your, the life that you want. And I will meet you right back here.