Let’s talk about mental clutter, how it can affect you, and what the solution is.
This 1 thing keeps you from having work balance
I hope you had a fantastic Christmas holiday break and I’m guessing that you’re focusing on goals. That you’re focusing on your vision for 2021. It’s kind of this odd thing we do, right?
We could focus on our vision for the next 12 months in June. It doesn’t matter really when we start, but we’ve culturally decided to focus on this at the beginning of January every year. As I thought through what you might be struggling with as you’re doing this, I looked back at what I’ve struggled with in the past. And I believe that those of you who are listening to this podcast are good people and you have good goals and amazing things that you want to accomplish in your life.
But there’s something that gets in the way and its clutter. If you were to come into my home, it is very rarely dirty. I don’t have 20-day old food sitting on the counter. I don’t have urine on my carpet. I don’t have gross, dirty things, but I have a lot of clutter. I have four kids. You will almost never walk into my home and not see any clutter.
How clutter affects your productivity
Sometimes we have mental clutter. I want to talk to you about this mental clutter today. I got this phrase from a friend of mine, her name’s Julie, and she formally owned the website Food Storage Made Easy.
She was actually one of my mentors when I very first started online marketing. She’s a fantastic human. She sold her business in late 2017, just a few months before I sold mine in early 2018. Shortly after she had sold that business, I was talking to her and asking her how she was feeling.
Selling a business is a hard thing. It kind of becomes your baby. And it’s difficult to let go of that. We talked a little bit about how it had been difficult, but one thing that she said has really stuck with me. She said, “Misty, a lot of the mental clutter is gone. I feel like I can actually be present with my children.”
And I realized that I had so much mental clutter. I wasn’t a bad person. I wasn’t doing awful things that were keeping me from being a good mom. I was there with my kids. I would read to them, or play with them or take them to the park. But there was so much mental clutter in my brain that I wasn’t really present. And Julie was talking about how much she was loving this new found ability to really be present with her kids.
When I sold my business a few months later, I found the same thing and I loved it. I loved being able to just be 100% present with my kids. But then, in the summer of 2018, I felt called to start a new business. And I pushed back against that for a while.
That business didn’t start until January of 2019, and that’s this current business. I felt that mental clutter coming back into my life, into my interactions with my kids and I didn’t want that to happen. I decided I needed to find a way to better manage that mental clutter.
What Elder Bednar has to say about finding work balance
We’re going to talk about that today. Awhile back, I found a video where Elder Bednar was speaking to a group of young men, and one of them asked Elder Bednar, “how can I find balance in all the things I do – home, work, church – How do I balance all of those?”
Elder Bednar kind of chuckles at this question and then he says, “You can’t. So don’t worry about it.” That’s not the answer I would expect from an Apostle. This really stood out to me.
Then he goes on to talk about these Chinese acrobats who will spin plates. Maybe you’ve seen a video of that, or have an idea of what I’m talking about. They spin multiple plates at once. I’m going to read you his response. He said, “There is always one plate that is closer to falling off and you have to hurry and get that to that one and spin it. We simply make sure that none of our plates fall and break.”
I love this concept of balance. I feel like when I have a lot of mental clutter in my brain, I might be physically trying to spin one of those plates, but I’m looking at a different plate. And what’s going to happen when I’m doing that? When I’m physically trying to spin that plate, but I’m looking at a different one?
Well, I’m probably going to knock the plate off balance and it’s going to fall and shatter. The truth is, I really can’t effectively spin a plate unless I’m looking at it.
Mental clutter makes that impossible for me. I am with my child, but I am looking at work or I am at work, but I am looking at my child. I’m thinking about what else I need to do. This has been a very big problem for me as I have really become more structured and more organized in my business and been able to find more time for my business and been able to set up more boundaries in my business. I have found that I can get more done.
My business can be more successful and I can still spend the time I want with my kids, but I have still really struggled to get rid of the mental clutter that is there and to actually be present with whatever activity I am doing.
What does mental clutter have to do with a computer hard drive?
Let’s get back to talking about mental clutter. I listen to various podcasts while I’m out on my walks every morning. A couple of months ago, I listened to episode #264 from Jody Moore’s, Better Than Happy podcast. And on that podcast, the guest that she had is named Tyson Bradley. Tyson Bradley is one of the very few male, Latter-day Saint coaches. He calls himself a Time Coach.
I want to read to you a little bit about what he said on this podcast episode. So he says, “the brain cannot tell the difference between what you’re imagining and what’s real life. And that’s a lot of the reasons why people feel so exhausted all the time, because they’re thinking about doing all the things. It’s just that mental clutter. And it’s as though they’re actually doing all the things without even doing them. So we’re expending all this energy in our brain, but then nothing’s accomplished.”
And Jody says, “yeah, you’re right. That’s really interesting.” He goes on to say, “it’s super fascinating that you can actually create time with your mind by seeing those thoughts and then getting them out of your head.”
He talks about how he sees the brain as “a computer with a very small hard drive. And we walk around all day and there are all these requests about what we need to do. I need to do this and this and this, there’s an email. There was a notification, or we look in the fridge and realize that we’re low on milk. And our kids tell us they need a pair of pants or whatever, and they need this and they need that. And all of that is input that’s going into our brain.”
“And what we tend to do is just store them. Our brain is just filling up, but it doesn’t have a very large hard drive. And so this idea, when a computer is working really hard, it overheats, and then it damages things. So if we’re keeping all those things in our head, it just doesn’t work. Our brain is not meant to, it’s not designed for that. It is a processor, not a hard drive. One thing comes in, another thing comes out. So we need to get those things out of our brain.”
I loved this concept. I have tried to do this on my own for quite some time. I have used Trello. I’m currently using an app called Infinity. I have used the notes app on my phone. I keep extra notebooks in my car. I have notebooks in my purse so that wherever I am, I can write things down. I’ve tried to keep them somewhat organized. I write about work things here and I write about home things there and church things over here.
How to get rid of the mental clutter so you can have better work balance
I put it in different places inside whatever app I’m in, Trello or Infiniti. I just haven’t been able to make it happen. I’ve still struggled with that mental clutter until I found the step program by April and Eric Perry of LearnDoBecome.com. I went through this program, I actually haven’t finished every single piece of it, but I went through most of the program when I had my tonsillectomy back in November. That’s what I did over those two weeks.
I loved this program so much that I actually became an affiliate for them, but here is the number one thing that this program taught me, that I love and that has truly changed things for me in the last couple of months. I now only have two places where I get rid of my mental clutter.
I have my Infinity app, and yes, I have a lot going on in that app that organizes my life. But when I have something, some sort of input into my brain when I open the fridge and I see that I need more milk or when I go into my son’s room and he tells me that he needs new pants, I take that and I put it in what I call my inbox in Infinity. It all goes into the exact same digital place. I don’t have to look through five different files to find the right place.
There is one digital place where my stuff goes – it goes into my inbox and then I process that inbox weekly. The step program shows you how to process this. It has a whole system for how you process your inbox. What this has done for me is it has freed up so much of that mental clutter.
Oh, I told you there were two places. So I have a digital and a physical place. I have a paper keeper where I just set papers. All my family now knows if there’s a bill that comes in the mail that my husband opens, or my daughter needed a little doll table that I needed to hot glue for her. She just went and put it in my inbox, my physical inbox. And then once a week, I go through my digital and physical inboxes and I process everything.
What this has done for me is it has allowed my mind to be free of clutter. I didn’t have to sell my business to do it. I’m glad I sold my last business. That was directed by God. But I can have a business and be a mom and I can be present in both if I can get rid of my digital clutter. When I write that down, I know it’s not going to get forgotten.
When I put it in my inbox, it will not get forgotten. It is going to be processed through my system and get put in the right place every single Saturday. So I forget about it. I don’t have to think about it. It’s not there. My hard drive in my brain is not overheating. And so I can be fully present with my kids, with my husband, with my friends, with my work, because I don’t have to worry about all the things that I might forget.
I would highly encourage you to check out the Step Program by April and Eric Perry of Learn Do Become, you can find a link to that in the show notes. It is an affiliate link. But I only become affiliates for products that I truly believe will help you make more money with your website and that I have personally used myself. I have been through this program. I believe it really works, and I believe it will help you find balance as a mompreneur.
So the step program is going to help you know what to do with that inbox. But even if you don’t do anything else, I want you to pick one place where all of your mental clutter goes because when I was keeping mine in lots of different places, it was still overwhelming. Even though I’d written it down, it was all in multiple different places and I couldn’t even remember all the different places that I had created to write things down.
I would highly encourage you, even if you don’t purchase the step program and learn about April and Eric system, I would highly encourage you to have just one physical and one digital inbox that you process through weekly.