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You have enough to remember over the course of a day. Forgetting an important task can be the source of a great deal of stress. Not remembering to pay a bill on time can affect your financial profile. Forgetting to pick up your child from an after school activity can make the child feel anxious and cause you to feel guilty. Forgetting a friend or family member’s birthday can make you feel as if you have to overcompensate to make up for your actions. All these experiences can have quantifiable real world consequences. In addition to impacting your finances, relationships, and self-perception, these situations can be very taxing on your energy level and motivation. While many of us are in the habit of writing things down, most of us overlook the many ways writing can help us save our energy and contribute to our sense of peace of mind.
Writing for “Energy Conservation”
One of the most obvious ways writing can help you save your energy is by freeing up mental real estate you would otherwise allocate to actively trying to remember tasks and other important information. Sometimes, people who are not already in the habit of regularly writing down daily reminders may feel intimidated by the thought of organizing their thoughts and activities on paper. In reality, writing can take whatever form is most helpful to the individual. To-do lists, calendars, and notebooks are helpful starting points that can be customized to meet the individual’s needs.
Writing for Mental Clarity
Journaling is a very flexible, practical activity that can help us feel renewed when we may otherwise feel mentally drained. Using a journal should not be stressful. Therefore, format, regularity of writing sessions, and nature of content may vary widely depending on the writer. A journal is the perfect place for making “pros and cons” lists when making decisions, drawing brain maps when planning, freestyle writing, and simply making personal notes. The vicious cycle of replaying an incident in your mind or trying to think through a conflict can be mentally and emotionally draining. Physically writing these ideas down and working through them on paper can have the effect of freeing your mind and curbing the temptation to spend hours withdrawn and obsessing over recurring thoughts. The act of writing these thoughts down can create a sense of relief that is similar to the way you may feel after talking to a trustworthy friend.
Writing for Improved Mental Health
The process of writing, whether for practical organizing reasons or for mental and emotional clarity, forces us to slow down and deliberate. When implementing writing as a strategy to help you remain organized or to remember important information, your brain is better able to retain information you have written down. Writing for mental and emotional health allows us to take a step back and process our experiences, which can ultimately help us make better decisions and feel less inclined to unnecessarily hold on to excess mental stress.
Many busy professionals, and especially entrepreneurs, express exasperation at the notion of achieving life “balance.” Some even say the concept of balance is a myth. Before approaching the questions of whether balance exists and how it can be achieved, there is an important distinction that must be drawn. When people say they are in search of balance, they oftentimes use the benchmark of perfection. Using perfection as a standard automatically sets up the individual, who by this point is usually tired and somewhat frustrated, for failure.
Balance vs. Perfection
Balance is a scientific concept. It requires adjusting the distribution of weight to remain upright. While the positioning may not appear to be ideal or comfortable to onlookers, the end goal is to remain upright and stable. Therefore, achieving balance may not necessarily feel pretty at first. It may require strengthening muscles you’ve never used before, doing exercises that are not necessarily comfortable in the beginning, and stretching yourself in ways that may seem painful, but will eventually help you move more efficiently. The perfect illustration of what balance looks like is ballet. Anyone who has taken a ballet class knows it is not the most comfortable dance art to learn and requires a great deal of conditioning. But once dancers achieve a certain level, the beauty of the art form is undeniable. Like many areas of our lives, the beauty of ballet is all based on the foundational concept of the dancer being able to readily identify his or her center of gravity and move in ways that allow him or her to remain in a balanced state. You can always tell when a ballet dancer is not balanced because he or she will bobble or even fall. In these ways, life and ballet are very similar.
The Problem with Perfection
Many of us seek perfection, but oftentimes people achieve what they perceive as perfection only to realize “perfection” ain’t so perfect. How many times have we thought someone lived a perfect life until we saw what goes on behind the scenes? Some of us have thought we would be perfect if we were to gain or lose 10 pounds only to discover the weight did not necessarily go (or leave) wherever we had intended it to. Some of us chose the perfect major in school and later discovered we hated it; others of us may have even graduated and discovered that the chosen course of study was not necessarily the most employable degree, or perhaps you graduated just as job demand in that particular field changed. All these examples illustrate that we have to set benchmarks that are firm, but flexible enough to be adjusted to accommodate changing conditions. Otherwise stated, identifying an ideal and striving for it is a fantastic idea; however, in doing so, it is important that we spend time thinking about how we can incorporate a sense of balance into that equation.
What Does Balance Look Like?
Balance looks different for everyone, but it is generally characterized by a lack of chronic stress. If you find yourself constantly stressing over the same thing (money, relationships, weight, work-life balance), there is usually something you may be doing or allowing that is no longer working for you. An effective approach to discovering what may be contributing to imbalance is to evaluate every area in your life, write your findings down, and even track your moods and behaviors over the course of a week. Many of us have taken on practices that are in direct opposition of our overall goals and objectives, but we are unable to readily identify which part of our life is out of alignment because we adapt and continue to repeat counterproductive behaviors until they become habits. I should note that achieving a state of balance will not necessarily mean that you will not have to make sacrifices. Oftentimes, living a balanced life may mean cutting back on work to support children in their after school activities or enfing the party earlier in the interest of getting home earlier and waking up at a comfortable time to prepare for the upcoming workday. Once you achieve balance, you will know. Your basic needs will be met, you will feel less “strained” in certain areas of your life, and you will generally be at peace. Experiencing your personal version of true “balance” will ultimately compel you to continue to prioritize things in your life in a manner that allows you to maintain your newfound peaceful state.
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Although the weather (in the East) has been swinging frantically back and forth between incessant rain and temperatures approaching 100 degrees, we all know that fall will eventually come. Before the harvest season sneaks up on us, I decided to conduct a challenge that will help us all be prepared whenever it arrives.
The September Closet Clear-Out Challenge will take place via email and consist of me providing you a step-by-step guide to effectively purging your closet over a period of 14 days. I am a fan of purging categorically, so each step will focus on purging all items within an identified category. I will also be providing helpful tips and strategies along the way to help us maintain our newly organized closets!
It’s totally free of charge and will equip you with skills that will help you maintain a more organized closet.
I will be giving one randomly-selected participant the choice of any one item from my store, organizedbyro.com, free of charge. To enter, follow me on instagram (@rlprofessionalorganizer), and follow the rules below.
Sure enough, after I posted my Day 3 review of the Calm brand magnesium supplement, it worked for me…I think. I was up very late on Day 4, so I wasn’t fully sure if it was the supplement that kicked in when I finally went to bed. But I definitely suddenly felt tired…in an agitated way after taking the supplement. That forced me to go to bed because I felt grumpy. The next day, I was unsure whether the supplement had taken effect or if my body had suddenly caught up with my mind and I was simply feeling the natural effect.
I decided to give the supplement another try on Day 4. That time, I was almost 100% certain the supplement had taken effect. But, again, the type of sleep I experienced wasn’t “calm.” It was a grumpy toddler-like urge to sleep. The product has overwhelmingly positive reviews, and most people report that it helps them feel calm and sleep in a more instant, relaxing way. Part of the issue could have been that I was attempting to stay up late to work on projects when I very well should have gone to bed. I will be giving this product another try at some point, maybe tonight as my sleep pattern has improved as a result of being more diligent about following my schedule. Stay tuned for more updates as I’m not fully ready to recommend this product for insomnia as the sleep I got after taking it wasn’t exactly…well…pleasant. Therefore, I think I’m going to test it further.
Much of my productivity coaching focuses on helping clients get enough sleep. Therefore, I am always looking into all natural, drug-free sleep remedies and strategies my clients (and I) can implement to produce more restful, timely sleep. Recently, I saw a social media post by someone who compelled me to try the Calm Magnesium supplement powder. I had heard of it before, but decided to look further into it before giving it a try myself. The preliminary words on the street was almost unanimous: this stuff works.
A little background on magnesium: it is an essential mineral that supports nearly every function in the body, from calcium regulation for bone health, hormone regulation, the nervous system. It eases muscle cramps, combats constipation in certain forms (Milk of Magnesium!), and can help you sleep. Due to the nature of the American diet, most of us do not eat foods that are rich in magnesium, and when we do eat those foods, we do not take in large enough quantities each day. Therefore, the overwhelming majority of us are magnesium deficient.
How the Supplement Works
Taking Calm Magnesium is very easy. It has a light Alkaseltzery, bubbly essence once mixed with water. The product is available in multiple flavors. I currently have Original, which is mostly flavorless, but very lightly lemony. I mix it with water, then add a bit of lemonade. It’s actually really refreshing. I look forward to drinking it each night. The directions say you are to take it on an empty stomach to allow optimal absorption.
Well…Does it Work?
I have been taking the supplement for three days and have yet to experience much of a difference. I do have a theory that it may be helping other areas of my health (I may have less cramping and reduced tension in my neck and shoulders…but I’m going to wait and see if magnesium is the real cause). Naturally, I began to wonder why a product that works for so many others seems to have no affect on others seems to not be “knocking me out” in the way it allegedly affects so many other people. I read the company’s blog, and, apparently, people who are extra deficient in magnesium may require a higher dose at first. In fact, the company advises to slowly increase the dose until it works or…well..diarrhea…happens. as…”bathroom fluidity” is a sign that the body has made up for the deficiency and is eliminating the excess magnesium….Yeah, I don’t know about all that. But I DID increase my dose last night slightly with no additional effect. So I’m going to give it another slight adjustment upward again and see how this goes. Stay tuned to find out how many teaspoons is the magic number [to be clear, I’m aiming or drowsiness…not…the other thing!].
Most of us can relate to having stray thoughts that emerge throughout the day while we are trying to complete our scheduled tasks. For some, these thoughts come one at a time and are generally not too bothersome. Others may be plagued by nagging recurring thoughts or a mind that constantly races and makes focusing on any task a challenge. This particular method of brain dumping is a quick way to transfer stray thoughts from your mind onto paper. By transferring things from your head to a physical page, you can permanently save the thought and revisit it later when you are not attempting to focus on another unrelated task. Storing your thoughts on paper can also help ease the anxiety that drives some people to replay the same thought over and over again. When you have written the idea down on paper, you no longer have to burden yourself with repeatedly reminding yourself of it.
OPTIONAL: Reserve the first two pages in your notebook to create a running index. As you fill in pages chronologically, update your index by labeling each week or calendar month and listing the page range that covers it (example: “January: Pages 3 to 32” or “January 1st – 7th…….Pages 3-11”). Labeling your index according to corresponding dates will help in the event that you need to review your notes from several weeks or months ago.
Conducting a brain dump is a productivity strategy that essentially allows us to transfer the information that fills our mind to paper, a dry erase board, or a digital format. Brain dumping has several benefits:
There are many ways to do a brain dump. This post will cover a more intensive brain dump strategy that can be especially helpful to those of us who struggle with schedule-building and indecisiveness. The following method is an adaptation of an article that was published by Lifehacker.
Step 1: Make Your Lists.
In this case, the lists will be entitled “Must Do,” “Want to Do,” and “Maybe.” Be sure to give yourself ample room to list everything that comes to mind, make edits, and add notes to the list.
Step 2: Finalize and confirm the “Must Do” list.
Your “Must Dos” are events and tasks you have already verbally or mentally committed to doing. In this step, you will simply confirm and reconfirm plans then write your “Must Dos” down on your calendar and, if necessary, set reminders. This is also an opportune time to call and send emails to confirm upcoming meetings and appointments.
Step 3: Evaluate your “Want to Do” list.
“Want to Dos” consist of everything you want to do, but have yet to plan. Look over the Want to Do list, and ask yourself if these are all things you really want to do. Then write a number beside each item according to level of priority; “1” corresponds to the item on the list that is the highest priority to you. You may have to change and reassign numbers as you proceed down the list. Or, on the contrary, it may be 100% clear to you which items you prioritize more than others. Next, look at your low-priority items. Ask yourself whether you are 100% certain that you want to do these things. If not, transfer them to the “Maybe” list. If you are 100% certain that a particular item is something you have zero interest in doing, simply eliminate that item altogether.
Step 4: Evaluate your “Maybe” List.
For people who have difficulty making decisions, the “Maybe” list will probably be the longest of the three. Look at each item on the list, and ask yourself whether the item is 1) something you really want to do, 2) something you really NEED to do, and 3) whether you need more information to decide. If the item is either 1) something you want to do or 2) something you need to do, transfer it to the “Want to do list.” In some cases, you may come across items on the Maybe list that you need to fast-track to the “Must Do” list and add to your schedule, for example, scheduling a doctor’s appointment or applying to a program in which you have decided you want to participate. You will also encounter items on your “Maybe” list that you now realize you no longer want to do. Have no shame in crossing these items off completely. Lastly, f you need more information to make a decision about an item on the list, make a note detailing the actions you need to take to get the information you require to proceed with making a decision. Forward progress is the objective!
With an increased focus on prioritizing, this type of brain dump requires a little more mental energy and critical thinking than a general brain dump. But for anyone who has difficulty with scheduling and decision-making, this is a very effective strategy to help streamline events and tasks in a manner that naturally flows into an organized calendar.
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Problem: Help! My living room/dining room/bedroom/office/kitchen/the doghouse is overflowing with papers that are of questionable importance!
Solution: Go grab some empty file folders. If you don’t have any lying around the house, run to your nearest office supply store/drug store/grocery store…or scroll to the bottom to see some cool folders Amazon can have on your doorstep within 1 to 2 days…depending on your shipping preferences [note: affiliate links included].
If you don’t have folders right this second, you can still separate the papers into piles, but label the piles CAREFULLY, and clip the papers in each pile together using a paperclip or binder clip. Now. We’re ready to begin:
1. SET A GOAL, and determine how much paperwork you would like to clean up in your current session. Be realistic. If you know you only have the energy to work on the task for 30 minutes, set a timer for 30 minutes. If you can work for a full hour…POWER HOURRR! Let’s Go!
2. Create categories, and label each folder according to the types of papers you have. If you can’t think of categories, try starting with these: Health, Home, Work, Finance, Bills, Leisure. Some of you may need to add a category for School. If you have kids, each child should have his or her own folder…but for starters, you can keep them all in one folder. For now. You WILL have to go back and separate everything out, though. So it’s best to just make a folder for each child if you have a massive amount of paperwork coming in from school, hobbies, etc.
3. Pick up one piece of paper. Determine which category the paper best fits. Example, if you pick up a car insurance bill, file it in the “bills” folder. If you can’t decide within 30 second, set the paper aside, and revisit it at the end.
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