August is the perfect time to reevaluate your January plans and re-group to finish the year strong. If you were not motivated at the beginning of the year to make plans or set goals, now is a good time!
TIP: I am a paper planner girl. I like to write things out and use color coding for my creative side. It helps me organize my thoughts and also helps with memory retention. There is nothing like crossing something off your To-Do List!
Out of necessity, I update my Google Workspace Calendar so I always have my schedule in my pocket.
Once, when buying my new yearly organizer, I accidentally ordered the Academic Year (August to July) instead of Calendar Year (January to December). The mistake was brilliant- I have much more time and energy to think about my year in the summer than in the exhausted days of January as I’m closing out year-end business books and putting away Christmas decorations!
The Last Two Years Have Been Unpredictable
With the unprecedented changes in our lives over the last two years due to the pandemic and social issues; “planning” has taken on new meaning. We have been on our heels rather than on our toes. Uncertainty is uncomfortable, it also creates opportunities.
Have you had a hard time planning ahead? Now is a good time to spend a few quiet moments thinking about what you want the rest of the year to look like and why. Don’t worry about the “how” just yet.
What do you want to accomplish this month and next as the seasons change? What do you want your holidays to look like this year and why? Who do you need to share those plans with?
Start With Small Steps
When you are overwhelmed, you focus on what you can’t do, rather than what you can do. Taking small steps in a positive direction creates momentum. When you are feeling uncertain making decisions is difficult.
A practical example of this is clutter piles. Clutter is an unmade decision. We set something down because we are tired and we will “get to it later”. Or we don’t know what to do with it so we pile it “just for now”. After a while, your brain ignores these “piles” so your mental energy can be used elsewhere but it still drains your emotional energy.
5 Small Steps You Can Take Now
1. Make a punch list:
Get a pretty notebook or bullet journal to create a “Punch List”. A punch list is a project list of incomplete tasks.
Walk around your home, room by room, and list any items that need attention. For example, sort mail on an entryway table or clear off the top of the dryer.
Don’t do anything, just make a list.
You can list small repairs you have stopped noticing like the broken light switch plate or dirty handprint on the wall. Schedule a few minutes several days this week to knock off these small tasks.
When you notice something in the future that you can’t get to immediately you can add it to this perpetual list and get it out of your head.
2. Completely clear your email:
When you are done with this task, your inbox is going to say EMPTY. Opening your email in the morning and seeing 5487 emails feels like drowning. First, go to your Junk or Spam folder. Delete everything. Don’t look through it. D-E-L-E-T-E.
Next, go to Unfocused (Outlook) or Promotions (Gmail) and D-E-L-E-T-E en masse. If anything was important, they will send you another email. To be honest, you wouldn’t know where to look for that information in your email anyway.
Next are your unread emails or newest ones. Anything unread that is over 2 weeks old or you have read and were “going to get to” but you haven’t followed up on by now you are going to DELETE. You can still search to find emails in the Trash folder if needed.
Quickly scan the remaining few emails and write them on your To Do list, file them in a folder or delete them.
Check new emails every day (it will only take a few minutes) and unsubscribe to anything that isn’t important (but not my emails :). Act on anything else by adding it to your To Do list or putting it in a folder where you can find it later. Delete everything else.
(See below for instructions on mass delete for Gmail and Outlook)
3. Your phone apps:
Look at the home screen on your phone. All those apps that you downloaded and never used? Or the apps that you don’t know what they are? Make them wiggle and click the minus sign to delete them (iPhone).
Look at the remaining apps and put them into category folders. For example, my phone has a folder for SOCIAL containing my FB, IG, and Pinterest apps. A folder called FINANCE contains all of my bank apps, Venmo, Zelle, and Secure Give. My TRAVEL folder has my airline apps, rental car apps, etc.
Your home screen will be much cleaner and you won’t have to swipe through pages of random icons.
Set a deadline for yourself to get this done.
I’ve linked instructions below for iPhone and Android.
4. Your voicemail and text:
When you get a “junk mail text”, simply reply STOP (all caps) to be removed from their list. If you continue to get spammed on text or by voice call, go to info (i) by phone number and scroll down to the bottom of the page, and tap BLOCK.
While it’s nice to have a friendly voice mail message for your friends and family; it’s more efficient to record this:
“Thanks for calling, I’m sorry I missed you. If you are in my contacts I will see your message and call you back. If you are not in my contacts, please leave your name and number so I can add you OR if you are a solicitor please add this number to your Do-Not-Call list.”
I don’t answer the phone for numbers I don’t recognize and if it’s legit then I set up their contact so I know who is calling the next time and can choose to answer.
Go to your voicemail messages and “lock” any messages you need to keep. Delete everything else.
5. Your junk drawer:
Now, let’s move back from digital to physical. Everyone has a junk drawer (or several). It’s a very practical idea made impractical because of clutter!
I once spoke to a mom’s group and brought my junk drawer with me- I actually pulled the drawer off of the slides and brought it with me.
I held a “contest” with several items in the junk drawer and asked the women to write down their best guesses for what the item was or what it was used for. After reading all of the answers aloud, I confessed I had no idea what each item was or what it was for.
I was hoping they could help me figure it out before I threw it away “just in case I might need it someday”.
There are practical things to put in a “miscellaneous drawer”- but junk is not one of them. Even if you have office supplies somewhere else in the house, it’s nice to have pens, paperclips, scrap paper, scissors, and such in your kitchen drawer.
Get a small plastic bin for pieces of stuff- such as unusual screws, rubber stoppers, and weird small accessories that you don’t know what it goes with. Put the plastic bin in the garage labeled “What’s It?”, just in case you figure out you needed it.
Get a drawer organizer or silverware holder for the drawer to keep the FEW things you put back in there neat, tidy, and easy to find.
Clarity is Replacing Mental Clutter
Take a deep breath; your clarity of mind is returning. Your motivation is building by freeing up some mental and emotional space recently occupied by overload.
That’s enough to accomplish for now. Well done!
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