3 Ways to Practice Financial Self-Care

I hear it again and again how much anxiety, stress, and frustration stem from finances, spending, and a lack of awareness of where money is going. And can we step back for a second and get real about this?

3 Ways to Practice Financial Self-Care | Mindful Productivity Blog

Feeling overwhelmed with finances is NOT a character flaw, finances encompass a motherload of mental energy, period.

If you’ve ever felt like holy shit, this is ridiculously overwhelming, you’re preaching to millions of other people who feel the same way (and would rather binge watch OITNB than look at their expenses right along with you).

The magic of self-care however, is that it involves reframing how we look at the world, and how we tackle the things we don’t want to do. One key aspect of self-care is being aware of the big picture and how handling something seemingly stressful can actually make most of your stress evaporate.

There's so much information out there about budgeting, finances, etc but one thing they all seem to lack is the focus on how we feel emotionally attached to money and our beliefs around it.

And while I'm sure you've focused your time and energy around various forms of self-care, we don't tend to consider our financial health as one of the core elements.

While I have a solid budget system in place that I use in my own life, it took me a while to get to the point of being comfortable looking at my income.

I used to think I was lazy and irresponsible for not knowing ALL the details of my budget, my bills, due dates and so forth but what it really came down to was a complete lack of awareness about how I felt energetically and emotionally about money.

Once I was able to understand my limiting beliefs about money and why I was blocking myself from true financial self-care and organization, it all changed and I was able to effortlessly move forward in figuring out all the details.

I now only spend 15 minutes a month paying bills, making sure things are in place, and figuring out things like holiday savings and other financial plans. And while I'm still learning and understanding a lot about my money mindset, I'm to a place now where it's no longer hindering me from taking a solid look at the things I need to do to live the lifestyle I want.

If you're like "yeah that's me, I feel super stressed around even the THOUGHT of budgeting and taking a look at everything" then the FREE Masterclass I've put together below is for you. 

In this workshop I cover the biggest money mindset beliefs that are likely holding you back, I walk you through my Financial Self-Care Framework that sets you up for success, and I give you 3 solid and actionable strategies you can use today to get going on your budget.

Today I want to talk to you about the main elements of financial self-care and how you can begin to incorporate these practices into your own life.

Here’s how:

1) Write down all the ways money makes you FEEL

What are the first things that pop into your mind when you think about money? It's not something we often do. We will make time to do braindumps for our emotions, our to-do list, but when was the last time you truly took even 5-10 minutes to think about what comes up for you around money?

I recently asked this in the Mindful Productivity Facebook Community and you can see the variety of responses I got!

2) Get clear on your income. 

It's nearly impossible to budget correctly and spend mindfully if you don't know how much you're working with. You might be saying, "uh, Sarah, I know what my paycheck is" - and that's totally cool. But are you clear on ALL of your income sources? 

Do you receive bonuses every year? What about those two extra paychecks since there are 52 weeks in the year? Do you know WHEN you're paid for all of those things? 

Having a clear sense of your income will change the way you think about money, big time.

3) Be mindful of your spending

This doesn’t mean associating guilt with spending or falling into the “should” or “shouldn’t” trap -- instead, keep a list of what you are spending your money on. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had an extra $100 or so, only to find that it’s down to $12 in a day or two with absolutely no recollection of exactly how that happened. There was something about having (and using) and checkbook in the 90s that kept me more honest and aware.

To help you get started, I’ve created a fun Financial Self-Care Workbook that you can access below. It’s covered with colorful donuts because 1) I was hungry and 2) I wanted you to have something that was bright, colorful, and fun. Because I’m done with finances being boring, nagging, and uninviting.

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How do you practice Financial Self-Care? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below or on Instagram. 


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How to get more done when you have a bulldog

This post is not my typical blog post but it's been such a crucial part of my productivity (and lack of productivity) that I finally decided to touch on it.

How to Get More Done When You Have a Bulldog

For those of you who don't know, I have a 3-year-old bulldog named Bella.

She also goes by:

Bella Marie

Bella Maria

Baby Bella

Love Dumpling

Potato Baby

Babushka

Love Muffin

And "BELLA NOOOO"

Let it be known that my husband and I do not have any children, just one 75lb potato who will keep you warmer than a heated blanket during all times of the year. She somehow finds a way to continually sleep so close to me that I often feel like we are one combined sleeping entity.

Like most obsessed pet parents, I'm obsessed with my dog, I love her fiercely, and spoil her in an attempt to somehow make up for all the other babies out there that don't get all the love :(

What "they" say is true. Once Bella turned 3, she kind of magically calmed down, started listening to commands more and isn't quite as rebellious. Although she has her moments.

One of the biggest struggles I've had as a bulldog Mom is that Bella is NEEDY, clingy, and always down for snuggles and naps - which has turned her into my best friend but also my worst enemy when it comes to getting my Pomodoro sprints in and making sure I can record podcasts at length.

Today I thought I'd share some of the (probably obvious) and also simple tricks and tips that have helped me set better boundaries with myself (and her) and allowed me to get more done without being coaxed into yet another mid-afternoon nap.

1) A tired dog = a happy dog + chunks of solid work time

One thing I haven't always been consistent with Bella (or myself) since starting my business is getting in a good chunk of movement first thing in the morning.

I always feel so good when I do and it always boosts my productivity but if you've ever worked from home (for yourself or someone else) you know just how tempting it can be to roll out of bed, grab some coffee, and pray that no one wants to see you on video for the rest of the day because you don't plan on showering (or pants-ing)

Getting up on time (and consistently), getting out the door for a big walk boosts my mood, gets the blood flowing and the brain working, and also gets Bella moving and grooving. An hour walk in the morning can FEEL like a lot of time in the morning first thing but it pays off for the rest of the day.

2) Setting personal boundaries is important, always

This is pretty obvious but it's also been a reality check since getting Bella. I learned a thing or two like the fact that I'm a helicopter pet mom. Bulldogs by nature are pretty needy, she wants to be next to me or on top of me at all times, but mama's also gotta get some work done!

Being firm with her, when she needs to go in her crate to calm down, and that she can't paw at me constantly when I'm at my desk was something I straight up wasn't consistent with the first year or two of her existence. Sounds silly, right? Something I needed to learn first hand I guess.

Suggested Podcast Episode: How to Establish Clear Personal Boundaries for Mindful Relationships & Time Management

3) Routines can make or break you

One thing I've learned about Bella is that she thrives on routine. The dog's got some amazing kind of internal clock. I know this because if it's even a minute past 8pm she's huffing and puffing and whining because she wants bedtime. Sticking to solid routines for her has also helped me stick to better routines for myself. 

Getting up at the same time, going to bed at the same time (this is NOT always perfect), eating meals at regular times. It's been the glue that holds my life together at times. 

4) It's important to slow down and take time to be still

I've heard many times before that dogs are the keepers of the present moment and it couldn't be truer. On walks Bella reminds me to stop and breathe in the fresh air, to go without my phone, and to take in the beauty of the outdoors. Doing this more often has helped me be worlds more productive by reducing my stress levels and creating a balance to my days. 

Bella

Do you have a dog that needs your constant attention? Tell me about it in the comments below!


 

 

 

How to Have a Work-Life Balance

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Why is it important to have a good work-life balance?

When we put too much emphasis on our work and not enough emphasis on other areas of our life like our family, our friends, and our own personal needs, that area of our life can fall to pieces. This can lead to us getting divorced, becoming estranged from our kids, or even causing us health problems which come from neglecting our own health. When we don’t put enough emphasis on our job and put all of our emphasis on our family, we might set ourselves up to lose our job, our car, our home, and other possessions. Then our family no longer has a secure income or place to live.

So what’s going on here?

According to the American Stress Institute, the number one cause of stress in the workplace is workload. Because of our workload, we end up working so much we lose balance in our lives. Job stress is so closely linked to heart attacks in police officers, that if an officer suffers a heart attack they are automatically assumed to have had a workplace-related injury even if they were at home when it happened. Our workload can also affect us at home where we feel like we have so many things to do and keep up with that being away from work feels like a job in itself. As a matter of fact, the stress that comes from the workload of life can also lead to us medicating ourselves with things like food or alcohol.

What do we do now?

How do we fix this? There’s an excellent quote from James Patterson in his book, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, which goes, “Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls— family, health, friends, integrity—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.” This is the mindset you need to have in order to keep your work and life stress-free.

Here’s my simple two-step process for how to apply this mindset to your life:

Step 1: Write down your biggest job responsibility, the thing your job revolves around doing. Make that your sole responsibility at work and only divert from it for important and urgent things.

You should be spending at least 80% of your time focusing on the #1 thing that your job depends on. For example, if you’re a teacher, then your main responsibility is teaching kids. If you aren’t teaching kids well, then you probably won’t last long as a teacher. The other things like the PTA, field trips, organizing community events, attending conventions are all secondary to that. If you’re a nurse, your main job is to take care of your patients. If you don’t do that well, your patients’ health will get worse and the hospital will throw you out. If you’re self-employed, then your main job is to try to get clients because, without clients, you have no business and no income. Deal with the main responsibility of your job first, then deal with the important and urgent “fires” when they get out of the way.

Step 2: When you leave work, do NOT do anything related to work.

If you have a work email, don’t check it. If someone from work calls you, don’t check it. My uncle was a teacher for 40 years and I asked him how he was able to do it for so long. He said that his motto was, “If it isn’t done by 3:00, it isn’t done by me.” I didn’t know it at the time, but he was talking about his work-life balance. The only reason he was able to make that work was that he was so productive at work due to focusing on the one thing his job required him to do above all others: teach the students.

Step 3: In the other areas of your life, decide on one action you can take that will help you get those other areas taken care of. Build one habit per month in these areas.

When you’re not at work, you’re going to constantly feel like you’re putting out fires. You’ll have to constantly go from one thing to another in order to “keep the balls from breaking” when they hit the ground. This is normal. To help make this easier, we’re going to think of only one thing we can do in each area that will help us take care of those areas and lower our stress. The areas we want to focus on our health, spouse, children, friends, and self.

Here are some examples. Use these if you like or come up with your own:

:: For your physical health: exercise three times a week.

:: For your spouse: set aside time each day for you two to be alone with no interruptions and enjoy each other’s company.

:: For your kids: set aside 30 minutes each day where you focus only on them and listen to them talk about what’s going on in their life, what may be bothering them, and talk to them about it.

:: For your friends: set one night per week as the night you all go out and do something together.

:: For yourself: pick one thing that you really like to do and make it a daily habit to enjoy that thing once per day. If it’s sports, try to catch some sports on TV. If it’s movies or TV, then get on Netflix and watch a couple episodes of your favorite series. If it’s running, then start a daily running routine.

Start with your physical health and do that for 30 days. Then move onto your spouse and do that action for 30 days, then kids, and so on. It takes 30 days to build a habit.

What to Watch Out For When You Do This:

When at work, don’t take your focus off your main responsibility for too long. If you do, you’re going to find that your life is going to get harder and you’re going to get stressed out again because you aren’t doing the one thing that your job hired you to do.

When away from work, build each habit one at a time and spend 30 days on each habit. If you go for less than 30 days or you do more than one habit at a time, the habit won’t stick, you’re actually going to get stressed out, quit, and end up right back where you started. Follow the process and you will get great results.


ABOUT THE GUEST AUTHOR

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Hi, my name is Benjamin Tiller and I’m a productivity coach. As a productivity coach, my focus is helping people who are stressed and overwhelmed double their productivity so that they can work less and enjoy their lives more.

I hold a Magna Cum Laude Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree in music, and I’m a certified public school teacher in the state of Texas. In addition to these studies, I have backgrounds in cognitive-behavioral therapy and developmental psychology which I use to help my clients achieve their personal career goals and lead happier lives.

Learn more about Benjamin by following him on Facebook or by contacting him at benjamintillercoaching@gmail.com



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101 30-Day Self-Care Challenge Ideas

Who doesn't love a 30-Day Challenge?! When you think about it, committing to something for 30 days can be life changing for a number of reasons:

  1. It allows you to open up your mind to new possibilities and ways of being
  2. Committing to something small for 30 days is a lot easier than trying to immediately commit to something new "forever"
  3. 30 days can put you well on your way to making something an actual ingrained habit
  4. Trying something new gives you confidence and a sense of accomplishment
101 30-Day Self-Care Challenge Ideas

There's a reason 30-Day Challenges are big these days and they can help you do a lot more than lift your booty with daily squats (note to self: ice is your friend).

The biggest perk about 30-Day Challenges? They don't have to be crazy, change-your-entire-life-around, find-another-hour-in-your-day, things. They can be as simple as making time to drink tea every evening (yes, that's on here). And in this list, that's what they are are, simple things to do each day, again and again for 30 days.

A quick tip before I send you off to this giant list of awesomeness. Pick no more than THREE things on here to do at a time. I know, I know, you may want to do more than that (because they sound BALLER!) but seriously, if you take on too many new changes, you'll burnout quicker than your first car doing donuts at 2am in that parking lot the cops totally didn't know about.

You can also use this list for 30 days, trying a new idea each day.

I've even created a calendar tracker and this entire list for you to print out and track your progress. So you can do any and all of these again and again.

Grab a pen, think of a friend you might want to do a challenge with, and hold on tight for all the ideas that are about to come your way.

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101 30-Day Self-Care Challenge Ideas (Epic Bald Eagle Sound effect)

  1. Meditate for 5-10 Minutes a Day
  2. Write down 3 things you're grateful for
  3. Do at least 25 jumping jacks
  4. Sit down at the table for breakfast every morning
  5. Read for 15 minutes before bed each night
  6. Light incense or a candle when you get home
  7. Write a letter to someone every day
  8. Write down one thing each day you love about yourself
  9. Watch 30 minutes of that show you've been meaning to catch up on
  10. Make the bed each morning first thing
  11. Cook a meal for yourself each day
  12. Take a walk rain or shine
  13. Get up 20 minutes earlier than your regular time
  14. Spend 15 minutes each day organizing a space in your home
  15. Write a letter to your future self using FutureMe.org (imagine how fun it will be to read 30 days of letters to yourself later on)
  16. Give yourself a daily facial
  17. Go on a short bike ride
  18. Drink half your body weight in oz of water
  19. 30 days of Random acts of kindness
  20. Eat an apple/banana/orange/piece of fruit each day
  21. Complete a Crossword or Sudoku Puzzle
  22. Morning affirmations
  23. Floss 2x a day
  24. Use lotion on your hands
  25. Watch How To Videos on something you've always wanted to learn (check YouTube)
  26. Solo Dance Parties
  27. 15 minutes of listening to your favorite music
  28. Sitting in nature
  29. Cuddling with a pet
  30. Text a friend and let them know why they matter to you
  31. Take a bubble bath
  32. Watch funny YouTube videos
  33. Skype a friend or family member (even for a few minutes)
  34. Watch sunset or sunrise
  35. Give up alcohol for 30 days
  36. Take a photo of something that makes you happy
  37. Write down one thing each day that made you laugh
  38. Spend 10 minutes drawing or doodling -- even if you think you "can't"
  39. Write down a quote or something powerful you heard each day
  40. Make tea before bed
  41. Write yourself a note for the next day
  42. Donate one thing from your home every day for a month
  43. Knit or crochet
  44. Spend time coloring
  45. Work on an art project
  46. Paint a rock
  47. Give yourself a hand and foot massage
  48. Watch a TED Talk
  49. Stretch
  50. Try Yoga
  51. Learn a new word
  52. Eat meals without your phone or TV
  53. Take a power nap
  54. Commute to work without your car
  55. Write a Thank You note/card
  56. Take a walk without your phone
  57. Sweat
  58. Go to the local pool
  59. Drink green tea
  60. Start your morning with a green smoothie
  61. Go a month without makeup
  62. Walk 10,000 steps
  63. Take 10 deep breaths in and out in the morning and before bed
  64. Bake something (bring the leftovers to work or give to someone in need)
  65. Write down something you did each day that made you feel proud
  66. Keep a list of what you accomplished each day
  67. Start a Bullet Journal
  68. Keep track of your expenses
  69. Listen to a guided relaxation
  70. Drive somewhere new
  71. Visit a new coffee shop/store/area of your town
  72. Go to a park
  73. Visit the library
  74. Go 30 days without watching TV
  75. Drink seltzer water instead of soda
  76. Make time each day to do absolutely nothing
  77. Turn off all electronics after 7pm
  78. Write down negative thoughts and cross them out
  79. Set a bedtime and stick to it
  80. Look in the mirror and say out loud what you love about your body
  81. Try daily dry brushing
  82. Pull a daily Tarot or Oracle card for fun
  83. Make a wish
  84. Add a page to your Buddha Book
  85. Add more Feng Shui to your home
  86. Set a reminder every few hours to check in on yourself
  87. Clean something in your house
  88. Switch to natural DIY household cleaners
  89. Remove added sugar from your diet each day
  90. Stop drinking any caffeine after Noon
  91. Eat something green with each meal
  92. Log what you eat each day
  93. Create a list of books you want to read, movies you want to see, etc.
  94. Create a Google Doc for all your ideas and add to it daily
  95. Pack your lunch for the day the night before
  96. Clean the kitchen/set the coffee for the next day
  97. Stay off the internet in the evening
  98. Add to your visualization board
  99. Ask a new person each day what makes them happier than anything else
  100. Do something spontaneous or out of the ordinary
  101. Read an article each day from a website that inspires you (like TinyBuddha)


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4 Types of Digital Clutter

When you think of the word “clutter” what comes to mind? Usually it’s that messy pile that keeps growing on that armchair no one ever sits in or the counter space that never seems to be clear. Where we put stuff attracts more stuff.

But when was the last time you stopped to think about how digital clutter effects your everyday life? Not only the files that reside on your computer / phone / device but also the distractions that prevent you from being productive during the day or the things that steal your attention in microseconds that add up to pretty big chunks of time.

4 Types of Digital Clutter

 

Digital clutter causes a few main issues:

  • It makes it hard to focus, think notifications, endless desktop icons, having to scroll through endless folders
  • It makes us feel overwhelmed. It’s a lot like walking into the kitchen when there’s a clear countertop vs. piles of junk mail. Our minds react to our environment. When there are tons of files, photos, or apps in front of our face, it’s natural to feel a slight stress response
  • It prevents productivity. Ever heard of shiny object syndrome?
  • It stifles our attempts at time management

One of the first ways to start being more mindful of how you keep your digital and online space is to build your awareness around what these types of clutter are so you can call them out when they take over.

1) Files and photos without a home

::sadface:: Everything just wants a place to belong and no one likes being stuck in the Desktop graveyard. I am so guilty of saving anything and everything to my desktop when I’m in a rush or working on a project. What ends up happening (besides my computer crawling to a halt) is that it becomes increasingly difficult to find what I saved on my desktop in the first place — which was the EXACT reason why I saved it there, BECAUSE it was empty, ugh.

When we get in the habit of mindlessly saving things to the desktop, the pile grows, and then it’s hard to remember what happened. How did it get like this?! Saving things to your desktop can accumulate quickly and when the overwhelm hits you may find yourself deleting things without checking (I’ve deleted important files this way) or throwing them all into a rando folder (also on the desktop) that only comes back to haunt you later.

A few tips to end the madness:

  • Save quick files to a delete folder. This is the perfect place for screenshots, photos you need to move or upload somewhere else, or files that you’ll toss after you read them. The key is taking time at the end of each day to empty your delete folder
  • Choose a destination (home) for things you download. Creating a digital file system (more on this later) can help you easily place files in specific places so you know where to find them later. There’s nothing worse than trying to find a screenshot on your desktop surrounded by a list of 16 other screenshots….
  • Use a simple and clean desktop background that encourages you to keep less. Backgrounds with quotes, blocks for icons, or a picture of your cat —- if it means you won’t put a PDF icon over their eyes
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2) Endless internet tabs because “oooo I wanna read that maybe

There was a pivotal moment in my life where I reached the deep end of tab-topia-land. I got an error message while trying to open up another Huffpost article that said “you’ve exceeded the number of available tabs”

Mother of god what have I done?

It was in that moment that I realized that not only had I digitally hoarded my way into info-oblivion, but I also hadn’t accomplished a damn thing in hours. My mind also felt overwhelmed, distracted, and I started feeling super irritable (no, I DIDN’T watch the last episode of Homeland, John, ugh).

Keeping tabs on your tabs helps you stay focused and prevents that awful cascade of thoughts that start with “maybe I can be more productive doing THIS though…

Tips for your tabs:

  • Limit yourself to 2-3 tabs at a time at most (hey if you can manage 4, go for it, but this is what has worked for me)
  • When you are tempted to read another article that you can’t possibly lose, throw it in a GoogleDoc or place where you can come back to it. Also, ask yourself, will my life really change if I read about How to Make a Frozen Strawberry Margarita WITHOUT Ice?! I mean maybe, but check yo’self.

3) Shiny FREEBIES – come to me my precious!

This is ironic considering I totes have a freebie for you at the end of this post (that’s for you to decide at the end) but it’s important to monitor how often you’re opting into online freebies, PDFs, and other downloads unless you’re okay getting lost in your inbox. I’ve always wanted to be slowly smothered by PDFs and welcome emails… 

Sometimes getting excited about endless new info can serve as a way to distract ourselves from the ownership of our own issues. Dang Sarah, way to cut in deep, you don’t know me! Hear me out though. There have been so many times when I’ve seen a fitness tip or “cure” for running or the “best” recipes made with the thoughts of unicorns only to find that I a) never read them and b) prevent myself from actually taking action because I feel like I’ve totally “done something about it” by getting an email.

Your inbox is one of the most sacred places you have in your digital space. You can truly monitor what goes in there, what you send out of it, and who gets an invite in. There are even badass systems in place to block out junk. No other space is really like that online. Decide how you want that space to look and honor it.

Inbox tips:

  • Keep track of your subscriptions and if they feel out of hand you can always use Unroll.me  to automatically unsubscribe from all the things
  • Not feeling a series of emails? Unsubscribe. It’s okay, you can always hit a website back up in the future and rejoin if you miss them!
  • Create filters for your emails within your Gmail account (I’ll come back to this later on)
  • Star important emails, people and even companies you love so they always show up in your inbox. Part of the joy of decluttering is making room for the things you DO love!
Ditch the Digital Clutter

4) Notifications and alerts

Both on your computer and your phone to FitBits, Apple Watches, and whatever else we now have to notify us about more data, it can be incredibly hard to focus! I once had a friend tell me that I couldn’t text, email, or send her any kind of message during certain hours because she hated the alerts….newsflash…..you are in control of those! And luckily we’ve reached a time now where you really can control what’s bothering you on digital devices.

Turn off the noise of constant alerts and notifications and life just feels like a smooth slow ride of enjoyment. Think about the last time you were out in nature or went to a party and didn’t have your phone on you, it was probably a lot less stressful, at least after the FOMO wore off 

Things to turn off and deactivate:

  • Turn off Facebook sounds and alerts for Facebook Messenger (I seriously went months listening to *ding* all day because I sometimes have Facebook up in the background). It was so much better once I turned that off. On a desktop go to SETTINGS > NOTIFICATIONS (with the globe icon) > Click on EDIT next to “On Facebook” > Turn sound options to OFF
  • If you’re an iPhone user, go into SETTINGS > NOTIFICATIONS and go through your apps and turn “Allow notifications” completely off. If there are apps you want or need to hear from, consider banners instead of alerts that disappear after a few seconds.
  • If you use a Mac, click on the toggle button in the upper right hand corner of your screen, select the NOTIFICATIONS tab, scroll up and turn the DO NOT DISTURB button to ON
  • Turn off Outlook or any Chrome reminder pop ups
  • Set your phone to DO NOT DISTURB or SLEEP MODE

Did you find this helpful? Download my simple Ditch The Digital Clutter Checklist below to keep on your desk or remind you of how to stay clutter free during the workday!

Digital Clutter Checklist


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6 Ways to Declutter Your Life & Free Up Mental Energy

(This post was also turned into an episode on the Mindful Productivity Podcast. Listen here)

The end of the day hits and you feel drained. Not because you ran a marathon but because you made 1,000 decisions, wrestled over, even more, choices, and had to stay "on" around people that made you want to roll your eyes. You're not alone, you're a member of a pretty typical day for most people.

Life is pretty sweet these days with our iPhones and Netflix binges, but there's one element that drains us faster than we're aware of. That element is choice.

6 Ways to Declutter Your Life and Free Up Mental Energy

Even a decade ago there weren't as many shows at your fingertips, Buzzfeed articles about adorable animals calling your name, or endless flavors of potato chips, seriously.....do we really need a Sunday baked potato and onion chip? What if I bake my potatoes on Thursdays?

The point is that endless choices lead to overwhelming feelings of hesitation and self-doubt. I've experienced this first hand as I stood in front of 20+ jars of jelly and asked myself, "how can I even handle my own life if I can't decide what flavor of jelly to use on my toast?"

You're not having an existential crisis, you're just living in a time when consumerism has become so luxurious that we are flooded with choices. Maybe we shouldn't complain, right? But at the end of the day, couldn't we agree that life would be a lot easier, a lot simpler if choices weren't so vast?

I'm about to share with you 6 powerful ways to declutter your life to free up more mental energy. So you can get home and be present with your family your taco night, or your cat.

1) Make your daily choices ahead of time

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We leave a LOT up to choice and it can eat away at our mental energy in microseconds throughout the day. But these babies can add up. When you already know the basic answers to your baseline choices, it becomes something that you don't have to think about, and doesn't affect your energy levels. I used to make fun of my grandma in high school for this. The woman was 82 and I got to use her 1986 Chevy Cavalier as long as I took her grocery shopping every Tuesday. She knew exactly what she liked and what she wanted. Spearmint lifesavers, never peppermint.

As much as I judged her from my 16-year-old brain, the woman was doing herself some mad favors with her flavor preferences. Now, I'm not saying you should stick to your ways and never broaden your horizons or get all grumpy about it (I don't think she ever forgave me for getting the wrong mints), but consider areas of your life that you know you like doing certain ways and be mindful of that. This allows you to go grocery shopping with ease, know what you're taking for lunch, and stick to what conditioner you use so every trip out doesn't turn into 20 extra minutes of deep contemplation about whether or not you can make the "perfect" choice.

A few ways to make this happen:

:: Make your lunch the night before

:: Stick to a bedtime during the week, how often do you play that game about how much longer you should stay up?

:: Make a dinner meal plan if it helps you avoid the "I dunno what you do YOU want for dinner?" conversation

:: Decide where things go when you get home, so you know where to find them

:: Write down your core staple groceries that you like and always buy more of

:: Decide if you already have plans for the weekend (even if those plans involve yoga pants and This is Us marathons) giving you the liberty to know your answer to many questions ahead of time

:: Set your workout gear out the night before (it's a lot easier to get moving if one decision is already made for you)

2) Stop putting up with things in your home that you hate

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I don't mean to brag but I'm kind of an expert Sims player. I used to spend 6 hours at a time on my Mom's Gateway in the summer building houses and using cheat codes to make ghosts and create endless money (I'm pretty sure rosebud still works). One thing about The Sims is that the characters have little health meters for different areas of their happiness. Have them walk into a room with nice paintings and their mood would go up, turn them around into a messy kitchen and they'd get pretty moody.

We're not much different. We all have that one thing (if not more) in our homes that we've been putting up with for way too long. Maybe it's that weird scrub brush your aunt gave you for the kitchen that stars at you with those weird googly eyes every time you go to wash a pan. Maybe it's a step stool that never folds back up correctly and makes you unbelievably frustrated. Or maybe it's that piece of "art" someone gave you that just isn't doing it for you.

Newsflash. This is YOUR home and unless removing said object affects the wellbeing of someone else in your home, there's no reason you need to keep it. Find a replacement, donate things that no longer bring good vibes to the space. Ugly crap in our homes drains our mental energy. You aren't shallow for wanting to see nice things when you sit down.

3) Turn off your automatic "yes" response

My husband is so guilty of this (sorry, love). But I can be just as bad about it. Someone invites us to something, asks us for a favor, or even offers to give us something and we say, "sure! no problem! I'd love to! I'll totes be there. Yeah, I can do that." Until the moment it actually hits us later that we agreed to something.

Saying "yes" right away can feel like a good friend thing to do. We're being agreeable, helpful, positive. But when we always say yes to other people without honoring our ability and straight up right to say no, we end up saying no to ourselves and other things that matter.

Or even worse, we end up flaking on a commitment later because we never fully assessed our initial yes in the first place. By taking time to assess your yes (quite possibly a future book title right there) you are able to bring forth your authentic self and only give as much energy as you have so you can conserve the energy you need to take care of yourself. Plus, saying yes to everything always can make us really resentful of others in the long term and makes it confusing for them to know where our own boundaries are. Say no more, it's good for everyone.

4) Give that shit a home

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The minute I walk in the door my keys goes on a key hook right by the door. No excuses. My wallet also always stays in my purse. That means if I grab it to make an online purchase, it doesn't take a nap on my desk, it goes straight back to where it belongs. Keeping a strict place for everyday items boosts your mental energy and keeps your sanity in check.

There's no need to run around the house searching for your keys when you're already running late. Been there. Done that. And I can tell you from firsthand experience, that when I leave the house frazzled, I drive frazzled, and I get really impatient with regular traffic that never changes anyway.

A few tips to get you started:

:: Make a list of things you use or take with you every day

:: Decide on a strict place for those things to live, this is their home space (aww you're so nice)

:: Keep the coffee and the filters in the same place

:: Put the remote back on the coffee table (I get why people use velcro sometimes)

:: Have a safe place for your daily water bottle

:: Put important items or paperwork in an inbox and outbox near the front door so you always know what to take with you

:: Stick a dry erase board to a place you always look at before you leave to remind yourself of anything specific for a particular day

5) Give yourself 30 minutes in the morning before you check anything on your phone

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I'm still working on this one but it's one of my favorite ways to declutter and ease my mind. Rise and shine! Time to shine a bright light into your corneas and see what everyone is angry about on Facebook. Gross. Try mixing up your morning routine by abstaining from your phone first thing (it might just open up room to not abstain from something else.....oh, I went there).

A few things that happen when I do this:

:: Mornings become 180% less stressful (social media can really get a girl wound up, amirite?)

:: I'm way less likely to be late - because nothing is distracting me

:: I read pages from real life books

:: I have time to sit out on my deck with my cup of black coffee (truly one of life's greatest moments)

:: I'm more present and mindful of the intentions I want to set for the day

6) Keep an ongoing list of things you want to do when you have free time

Wrapping this all back up with my initial theme of choice, if you have a list of ideas for things to do when you have some downtime, you'll avoid the overwhelm of making a decision. Because I don't know about you, but if my decision window of "what to do with my hour of free time" is longer than 45 seconds, it can often lead to feelings of guilt for not being more productive or that dumb voice that tries to talk you out of your you time.

Ditch all of that garbage and keep a fun list in your journal so you always have ideas. Need inspiration? Here are some things on my list:

:: Meditate outside

:: Write letters to friends

:: Make a crystal grid

:: Sew a love elephant (here's one I made a couple years ago)

:: Play my Nintendo DSi

:: Color

:: Draw some mandalas

:: Add to my Buddha Book

:: Try a new vegan recipe

 :: Go to the library

:: Make some lists (50 ideas here)

Decluttering your life is so much more than how much you own. And sometimes it starts with how cluttered your mental space feels. Try out these tips and let me know how it goes. Enjoy this post? Please share it and spread the love <3



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