Your mind is whirling with things you need to do while you frantically pack up the kids into the minivan arriving 10 minutes late to the soccer field only to discover the game is tomorrow. Or is that just the story of my past–who am I kidding? Things like this still happen, but not as often as they once did. For the most part, I have left my scatterbrained days behind and replaced the flurry of activity with calm. And today I am going to share with you how I learned to change the pace of my days from frantic to sane.
Go From Scatterbrained To Calm With These Five Simple Tips
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1. Create As Many Of These As Possible
You want to do as much of the everyday tasks in life on autopilot so that you have brainpower left for the decisions that matter. To make that happen, you need to develop routines.
Start by creating these three routines that are tied to the time of day.
- Morning Routine (this free course can help you create one)
- After Dinner Routine (use this course to help create an evening routine that will help you thrive in the morning)
- Bedtime Routine
If you are not sure what any of these routines should include, here are mine:
Morning–Wake up, drink a glass of water, exercise, shower, get dressed, bible study, write my to-do list for the day, write a list of household tasks for each child to complete, eat breakfast, start on tasks on my to-do list.
After Dinner Routine–Clear the dining room table off and put away leftovers. Clean kitchen counters. Stack dishes for the child who is doing after dinner dishes (no dishwasher in our house). Go for a walk with my hubby. Spend roughly 15 to 20 minutes tidying up home for the day and putting out my workout clothes for the next day. Get back to blogging.
Bedtime Routine–One hour before bed, I switch from blogging to relaxing either reading the magazines I get for free or taking skillshare classes while knitting or crocheting. Fifteen minutes before I want to be in bed, I go and brush my teeth, fill my diffuser (so happy with this diffuser) with lavender essential oil (this is my favorite brand) and water. Then I rub magnesium lotion on my legs (it has taken away 90 percent of my restless leg issues, making it easier to sleep) and jump under the covers. There I fill out my line a day journal for the day and then read a book for about thirty minutes before turning out the light.
These routines add a sense of order to my day no matter what happens in the time between. Some of them energize me (exercising), others relax me (reading), and others keep my home from chaos (tidying up after dinner).
2. Use A Simple Planner System
Do not purchase a planner that has so many different spots to fill out that it requires you watching an instruction video to start using it because chances are–you won’t stick to using it.
Purchase simple planner. I use this Mead planner, but in the smaller size so it will fit in my purse when I am going to appointments that might cause me to have to book more appointments–like the doctor’s office. I like that it has both a month at a glance page and a week at a glance page, plus a few note pages in the back, and a four year at-a-glance calendar. It is all I need and nothing more.
What Do You Track In A Planner? Here is a list of what I write in my planner to help you decide what to keep track of in yours.
The Week At A Glance Section
- All children’s activities
- All children’s work schedules–this helps me decide who is going to be home for dinner so I know how much food needs to be cooked. It also helps me know who is around what day and therefore can help with household chores.
- My husband’s weekend work–his weekday schedule stays the same, so I don’t write it down.
- Any appointments anyone in the family has
- Dates bills that I can’t put on auto-pay are due
- Dates we are going on vacation
- Any other special activities or occasions anyone in the family is taking part in
- Dates I need to call in prescriptions or make an appointment (hair cuts etc.)
- The Mead Planner has one empty square each week, and I use this to write down to-dos that I need to get done, but that don’t have to be done at a particular time or day.
- I don’t use this much except to figure out what weeks my husband works four days and what weeks he works 5. Even though I only use it for this one purpose, I would not have a planner without one. It makes this task so much simpler.
The Notes Section
- The times my college-age kids leave for classes each day and will return each day–again, so I know who is home for dinner.
- Important reference information–phone numbers for the dentist, doctors, vet, etc., and any other information I might be asked to write down on school forms, medical forms, etc.
Again, this is just a list of things I keep in mine. What you keep in yours is going to be best suited to your life. I use my planner strictly for date reminders. I keep a life book to track goals and such, but that is a subject of another blog post. I don’t mix the two as I find my planner gets too full when I do and then I scan right past date reminders for important things, like due dates for bills.
3. Create Reusable Reminder Lists
You can find a lot of these reusable reminder lists as free printables online, but I think making your own is more effective. It isn’t hard to make a simple black and white chart using the graph section of Open Publisher, which is 100% free to download and use.
This year I have been going crazy making these, as one of my goals is to simplify more tasks.
What are reusable reminder lists? Essentially they are checklists you create for things you do regularly so that you no longer have to depend on your memory for more than you need to. Overtaxing your memory can be a massive cause of the scatterbrain fog you experience when life gets chaotic.
Here are a few of my reusable reminder lists to help you brainstorm on what ones you can create for your daily life.
For My Work As A Blogger
I know most of my readers are not bloggers, but I wanted to show those of you that are how I streamlined my blogging workday. The rest of you can feel free to skip this section and go straight to the reminder lists I use for household tasks.
- Daily work tasks
- Weekly work tasks
- Monthly work tasks
- New blog post task sheet
- Redo blog post task sheet
- A grid-style weekly calendar sheet that I use to mark off hours worked as I go–this helps me make sure I prioritize enough time to work throughout the week
- A day-by-day list of types of Facebook posts to share in my Facebook groups and pages
- A list of Pinterest boards to hand pin to every day, three times a week, once a week
- A grid-style chart for tracking what pins I pin to those group boards
- A chart for my newsletter to make sure the companies I love all get mentioned on regular intervals
- A list of blog posts that need an update
For Our Household
- A packing list for minivan camping
- A packing list for travel trailer camping (here is why we minivan camp during a few months of the year even though we own a posh travel trailer)
- A list of high school courses to check off as they are completed so our daughter, who is half homeschooled and half private schooled, has all the credits she needs to graduate
- A list to keep track of upcoming expenses that are irregular and, therefore, are not in our month to month budget
- A list of tasks for family cleaning days
- A Christmas gift idea list that each member fills out at the start of the Christmas season
- A Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinner shopping list. This lists all the ingredients for the special recipes we make for these special occasions. I not only transfer what I need onto my grocery list for the week, but I also take the list with me grocery shopping so I can have it handy to read one more time before I leave the store –which usually results in me realizing I still forgot one essential item, but at least I am still in the store and not at home.
Other Lists You Might Want To Consider Making
A lot of items on this list are on my “want to make a list for” list. Yep, I even have a list for that!
- A rotating menu
- A master grocery item list
- A weekly, daily and monthly chore list–I prefer the “if it looks dirty, then clean it” method, but it doesn’t work for everyone
- A master list of extended family birthdays and other special occasions that you could use to transfer dates to your planner each year
- A decluttering by area list–like my 52 weeks series. This made such a difference in taming the clutter in our home the year I did it. Now I keep the progress up by decluttering a spot a month.
I also have a set of lists for my life book, but as I said in the planner section of this post that is another blog post– if you want me to write about it, leave me a comment asking for it.
4. Only Read Emails When You Have These Close By
Repeat after me, “I will not check my emails without my planner and a pen close by.”
Emails tend to have important dates to remember in them. If you check them when you don’t have a planner and a pen nearby to write them down, you will forget about why you kept that email, delete it and then show up to art class on the wrong day because that email you deleted stated for one week it was going to be on Tuesday afternoon and not Thursday.
So before you check emails, grab that planner and a pen and make sure to write down important dates as you read about them.
5. Take Advantage Of This Function On Your Phone
The most used section of my iPhone is the timer and alarm function–and it should be yours too.
Scatterbrain fog is created by too much to think about. Each of the four steps above will help put a lot of things on autopilot, but this last one will help you stay on task and therefore get more things done each day–creating wiggle room in your day to enjoy those things that bring you joy and switch your brain from frazzled to calm.
Here are ways to use your phone’s timer and alarms to help you stay on track and put even more things on autopilot
- When your child is sick and needs medications, work out the times they need various medications and make them alarms in your phone. Label each one as the medicine they need at that time.
- Make a daily alarm for daily meds, vitamins, etc. at the times they need to be taken
- Set an alarm to go off 5 to 15 minutes before you have to go somewhere, so you have enough time to grab what you need and get out the door.
- If you struggle with getting to bed on time, set a “get to bed” alarm that will off about 15 minutes before you want to be in bed, so you have enough time to brush your teeth and wash your face before bed.
- Set reminders for doctors appointments, dentist appointments, etc.
- Use timers to motivate yourself to get cleaning tasks done efficiently. For instance, set a 15-minute timer and then scrub down as much as you can in the bathroom. This will help you focus on cleaning what is essential and leaving the nit-pick stuff for later
- If your washer or dryer doesn’t have a buzzer that sounds when it is done, set your timer to remind you to change over the load or to fold the clothing fresh from the dryer.
- Set a timer to remind you to start dinner at a specific time.
This list should get you started, but it isn’t exhaustive, always be on the lookout for tasks you could set a timer for or set an alarm or reminder for. Oh and also buy yourself a compact and portable battery charger, because smartphone alarms and timers won’t help you if your phone is either dead or in a different room charging.
Increase Your Inner Calm By Doing These Five Things
Once you complete the five tasks above, it will be time for you to take things up a notch so you can have even more time to replenish and relax. The more you can do those two things, the less you live your life in chaos and the more inner calm you feel.
1. Sit Down And Write This List NOW
What are your main priorities in life? Take a day or so to ponder what they truly are and then write them down in order. Your list of priorities in life should be short, no more than 10, and they should mainly be relationship-based. For instance, my shortlist contains my husband, my kids, my close friends and a few other priorities.
2. Decrease Your Obligations
I want you to write one more list. List every single obligation you currently have. Whether it be a household chore, or an out of the home responsibility, like bringing snacks to mom’s group on the third Thursday of every month.
Take that list and set it beside your priority list. Circle those things that are in line with your priorities. Now it is time to decrease or eliminate the rest of the items on the list.
Politely and honorably step out of obligations that don’t meet your priorities. If need be, find a replacement or see the commitment through until the end of the year, but don’t sign up next year.
Decreasing your obligations is H.A.R.D. The hardest part sometimes is figuring out what is a good thing and what is the best thing, a great book to help you decide is The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.
3. Delegate What You Can
Notice how I had you list household chores as obligations? Chances are you are doing more than you have to. Do you have children? Do a bit of research on age-appropriate chores and you might be surprised at just how helpful kids can be around the house if you take the time to train them. And take it from a mom who has done it, the training part is frustrating at times, but oh so worth it. Our family cleaning motto is “we all make messes so we all clean messes.”
Another way to delegate chores is to hire them out. I know not all budgets can afford this, but if yours can, I highly recommend it.
And don’t forget about the wonders of technology!
- If your community offers services like Walmart Grocery Pickup, use it to reduce the time it takes to get groceries (use this link to save $10 on your first order).
- Use Amazon Subscribe and Save to have items you regularly use like toilet paper and shampoo delivered to your house once a month, the only work you have to do for this is changing the frequency if need be.
- Become an Amazon Prime member and enjoy free shipping on Prime Pantry orders of $35 or more on thousands of everyday pantry items.
- Order clothing online and save money doing so by using the no-brainer chrome extensions for Rakuten and Honey to earn cash back and apply promo codes.
And don’t forget to talk to your significant other too. Take the time to both make a list of all the household tasks you each take care of. If your list ends up being three times as long as theirs, with love and grace ask if perhaps they could take over a few things on your list–let them decided which ones (a good book on how to delegate: Dropping the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less).
4. Always Make Time For This
I will never forget a visual demonstration a pastor’s wife once did for a MOPs group I was a part of years ago. She had three water jugs on a cart. She labeled one “self”, another “others”, and the third was replenishing water. She showed how in order to feed into others (including those we love) we need to make sure we are replenishing ourselves, otherwise our well will run dry and we will have nothing to give–and therefore not be able to care for others the way we desire to.
Figure out what replenishes you–it is truly a personal thing. For you it might be going out once a week with your girlfriends. For another, it could be slipping out of the house for a few hours to somewhere quiet to read a book uninterrupted. Experiment, try new things, see what gives you that full tank feeling. You will know it when you find it, and once you do, make sure to fit it into your schedule at least once a week for an hour or two.
5. Don’t Let These Slide
Relationships are what we were created for–don’t push friends and family aside to reach goals or perform obligations that you should not have signed up for in the first place.
Make time for your husband–Each day try to spend at least 15 minutes talking with each other uninterrupted. My husband and I manage this in our stage of life right now by going for a walk after dinner. When our kids were younger, we would talk either before they got up or after we put them to bed. And don’t make this daily time your only time, go on a regular date night or a monthly date day.
Make time for your close friends–squeeze in a workout with a friend. Go grocery shopping together (sans kids). Meet up for an early morning coffee before the rest of the family is up.
Make time for your kids–sure you might be around your kids all day long, but are you taking time to cherish them? Time to hold a conversation or get involved in their play?
Make time for your extended family–send grandma a snail mail card, just because. Take your mom out for lunch. Show up at your sister’s door with flowers or freshly baked cookies. See if you can clear your schedule to be present at the next large family gathering.
Make time to create new friendships–look around you, who looks like they could use a friend? Who intrigues you? Who makes you laugh even though you don’t know much about them? Clear a few hours each month to do something with one of these people. Invite them over for a meal. Meet them for coffee. Go on a hike or a walk together.
These steps will take time to complete. You won’t go from living the scatterbrained life to finding inner calm in thirty days or less. It will take months or perhaps even a year, but it is possible. Not every day will be peaceful once you make the changes, chaos will still creep in and take over from time to time, but calm will slowly become the norm as you do more and more things to prevent scatterbrain fog.
3 More Posts To Help You Start Living Your Best Life
- 7 Ways To Slow Down And Enjoy Life
- How To Make Time For YOU: Despite Being Crazy Busy
- How To Set And Crush Your Goals As A Busy Mom
Stop Feeling Like You Are Drowning In Your To-Do Lists
A blog post can only provide so much help, which is why I recommend Crystal Paine’s courses if you wish to stop surviving and start thriving.
As a mom of three who runs a thriving blog, Crystal knows her stuff when it comes to productivity and making the best use of your time. She offers several highly effective courses that can help you gain control of your day instead of it controlling you, including:
- Make Over Your Mornings
- Make Over Your Evenings
- Four Weeks To A More Productive Life
- Make Over Your Year
These courses are inexpensive, practical, and can make a HUGE impact on how much you can get done in a day when you apply what you learn. When I took them, I gained an hour and a half each day!
No money to spend? Crystal offers a FREE 5 day Make Over Your Morning Challenge that is full of what you need to get started in living your days with less chaos.
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