Mental Decluttering Monday: Decisions, Decisions!

I teach special education.  It’s not exactly known for being a low-stress job. It’s enjoyable, but there are meetings to lead, situations to deal with, and lots and lots of quick problem-solving.

In the past, I found that my mind became cluttered rather quickly.

In order to counteract this clutter, I made a very conscious effort to cut down on the decisions that I have to make, on a daily basis. When our minds are busy agonizing over what to wear, what to eat, when to do each daily chore, then our mental resources are not free to deal with the larger decisions that we may encounter, later in the day.

Here are some things I’ve done to limit the amount of decision-making that I need to do in a day:

1. I own a limited wardrobe. I had tried using an all-season wardrobe, but the sundresses with blazers simply weren’t warm enough in the winter, and I didn’t think that they looked polished enough. So now, during the school year, I have 4 pair of dress pants, 5 sweaters, and one pair of jeans (for Friday!). Each day of the week gets its own outfit, with some repeats on the weekends.

2. I plan my meals ahead of time, and do all the cooking I can over the weekend. Then I can just grab what I need, heat if up if necessary, and enjoy dinner.

3. I plan for leftovers for lunch, with lots of Go Picnic meals stashed away as back-ups. Of course, recently, I found 10 packs of nori for .80 each at the grocery salvage store, so I’m getting bentos for awhile (and I don’t make those, so it removes another decision).

4. I have a morning rhythm that starts me out with as little mental clutter as possible. What, exactly, I do in the morning depends on my emotional/spiritual needs at the time. Right now, I spend most of the time writing. But, as needed, I have spent extra time praying, done my brain dump, done yoga, etc.

5. I wear my hair the same everyday.

6. I put everything on my calendar, at work, rather than trying to keep it in my short term or long term memory. I tell everyone that my brain exists on paper!

7. I mark everything right away. If I am handed something to do, I make sure that it gets marked with a sticky note right away, so I don’t have to remember exactly what it is for.

Doing all of this has done a lot of help me declutter my brain. What are some ways you’ve found to keep your mind from becoming too cluttered with day-to-day decisions?

filing cabinet

2 thoughts on “Mental Decluttering Monday: Decisions, Decisions!

  1. Great list! I love having a uniform for work – as it saves that decision. I don’t even care that it’s not sexy/pretty! Meals I’m still struggling with, and it’s one of my goals to always cook enough to have leftovers for 4 lunches at work. It’s a work in progress, I eat out of the house too much! I’m jealous of your morning time – I’m up at 6am-ish and out of the house by 6.30am-ish, leaving little reflection time, but this week marked the start of my ‘read the bible in a year’ so I’m now doing that each evening about the same time, and so far, I’m loving the peace it’s giving me. And also a huge fan of the calendar (google’s great – I have a work layer, a ‘life’ layer (anything about me), a holiday layer – for planning a trip, and a cleaning layer – though it’s underused, it designed to remind me of irregular chores, and mark how often I end up doing others.

  2. My previous employer gave me a Franklin Planner when I started the job and it has been a mainstay in my life ever since. No more scattered Post-its, everything in one place and with sections for notes, I can jot down thoughts without wondering where they are. Over the years, I simplified it to reduce the bulk of the ‘page for every day’ version. Now I use just the two-page calendar and blank pages in two sections – one for work and one for my life.

    At a certain age, thoughts get lost in traffic at an alarming rate. Having only one place to look has made my life simpler and happier.

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