Life Clutter

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messy desk

I was finally able to visit one of my relatives a few weeks ago. It’s probably been a year and a half or longer since I’d been able to do this with the whole Covid thing. It was a very quick but nice visit. As I walked back into my condo Saturday evening, my first thought was Man, I need to clean and organize my house so it looks like Aunt Sue’s.

I will be the first to admit that I did not get the “clean and organized” gene in our family. I want to be clean and organized. Walking into friends or family’s houses that are like that makes me feel calm and relaxed. Sadly, that’s not been motivation enough for me to change my messy habits.

My house is not the only thing that’s cluttered though. In fact, I would even venture to guess that the frequent status of my house is a by-product of other things in my life that are cluttered. I suspect that if I straighten out some other areas, I’ll find it easier to deal with the physical clutter going on.

Problem area 1: Mental Clutter

My brain is always racing. I’m thinking about my to-do list, both at work and in my personal life. I cram way too many things on both and then get frustrated with myself and sometimes others when all the things don’t get done. This week was a great example. I was trying to figure out a new diet I’m on, get 7 different important things done at work, find time to exercise, attend my condo’s HOA meeting, work late for a function at my work, and prepare my house for weekend guests. 

Guess what happened? Started off strong and got the work function done and attended the condo meeting. Check and check! Did pretty well on staying within my new diet constraints-another check! By Thursday I was stressed out! The house was still a mess (as far as being guest-worthy in my opinion) and the guests were going to be in town before I got off work the next day so there was no time to even spread out the cleaning and organizing. This is the point where I had a mini-meltdown. Just a note here…one of the “guests” was my son, the other guests were his friends. They were all in town to participate in a friend’s wedding. My son is well aware that I am not, and have never been, the best housekeeper. And as my friend pointed out, his twenty-something friends were going to be wrapped up with wedding activities all weekend and most likely not going to be judging my housekeeping (or lack of) skills. 

My friend had valid points but at that point in time, I was stressed out to the max and being completely irrational. Now I hated my tiny condo that has a dozen things that need fixed or upgraded and I’m ready to just throw it on the market, as-is and move into an apartment where I can just call maintenance anytime goes something wrong (because I also discovered Thursday night that my air conditioner had gone out). I know, I know, sometimes I’m a drama queen.

Fixing the Mental Clutter

I’m 47 years old and I’ve ALWAYS been a worrier and an over-thinker. I realize I’m not going to just change my life personality overnight because I want to. I can and do need to take some steps to be less stressed though. They can be baby steps but they need to be steps forward.

  1. Get more sleep. I’m a night owl, which has kind of worked for me over the years because I can take my lengthy to-do list and keep working on it until late into the night. It’s rare that I’m ever in bed before midnight. Rarely do I have any trouble falling asleep, it’s just finding a stopping point in my day and making myself go to sleep at a decent hour. This has to change. My goal this week is to be in bed before midnight every night. Next week, I’ll move bedtime 30 minutes earlier and see how that works.

    I’ve started using my  Relax Meditation app when I go to bed more often too. Basically it’s a free sound machine app. You can pick from a variety of sounds and set a timer for them to play. I currently have thunderstorm, night sounds and distant train playing. I love that you can pick and choose your sounds. Sometimes I just do ocean waves.
  2. Find relaxing/creative outlets: I know when I get to the point that I’m having mini-breakdowns that I need to slow down.

    I’ve started trying to read a little before bed every night. Writing for at least 30 minutes a day during the week and at least an hour on the weekend days is also a goal. Both of these are relaxing activities for me.

Problem 2: Schedule Clutter

We’re all busy, right? Family, jobs, friends, and hopefully some type of social life occasionally. Juggling it all can be tough sometimes. I work a lot of hours but I never want to be that person that puts work in front of family and friends. I also don’t want to sacrifice the things that are important to me for my job.

  1. Shorten the daily to-do list. I can easily fill an entire page with things I want to accomplish each day. I’m going to try to shorten that to 2-3 things for the work day and 2-3 things personally.

  2. Say no more often/Set boundaries. I am bad about overextending myself. I’ve always felt like if someone takes the time to think of you and ask you to do something then you should. I’ve come to realize that not everyone thinks like this, lol. I shouldn’t drop what I’m doing or rearrange my schedule unless I want to. Sometimes you don’t have the flexibility but often times you do. In my case, I should have skipped our condo board meeting this week. This was the least important thing on my agenda for this past week. I’ve already taken steps to stop working over so much at my job.

  3. Prioritize the Life list. Part of my problem is that there is sooo much that I want to do and I feel like time is slipping away. I want to write more, I want to buy a nicer condo, I want to travel, I want to get in shape again. These are all great goals but when you try to squeeze them all in along with a demanding job, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I’ve got to figure out which is most important right now I think. 

What about the messy house??

I did not forget about the messy house (and my office can definitely use some straightening up as well). Slowing down the chaos in my brain and schedule should leave me with more time to work on the house. An added bonus is that my youngest son has returned home while he’s on the post-graduate job search and out of the three of us in our family, he is the cleanest and most organized. I already find myself trying to pick up more often just because he’s around. He’s also very helpful around the house. Now if I could just convince his cat to not make so many messes….sigh.

What type of clutter do you have in your life? Is it just clutter around the house? Financial clutter? Mental and schedule clutter like me? Or maybe you have it all figured out already. If that’s the case, you should start a blog and teach the rest of us your secret!!

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