Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Decluttering IV: Clearing the Mind

My mind is cluttered: messy, disorganized, and full of junk that's better thrown away. I want to declutter my mind without losing all the valuable stuff ... which means it probably won't do to drown it all in a bottle (or five) of fine red wine.

Ah, well. Making lists and setting priorities may not be as fun, but it'll be a lot more effective (I hope).

Prompted by the books Freedom from Tyranny of the Urgent and Organized Simplicity, I've done a few simple exercises to start clearing the mind-clutter.

1. Making an inventory of what I do with every minute of every day.
2. Making three lists: What I wish I had time for, what I need to do to survive, and what I actually do with my time. List #3 was easy since I'd taken the "time inventory" several weeks before.
3. Work (with Dan) on writing a family purpose statement.

I'll write three blog posts focusing on each exercise. Today I'm writing about the time inventory.

I learned a few things from the time inventory:

- I spend a more time with Anne than I realized. This was a relief. I'm constantly beating myself up for not being there for Miss Anne. Even though I do work long hours, I spend the majority of my non-work, non-sleeping, non-housework time giving her my undivided attention.

- I check my e-mail a lot. Rarely do I visit Gmail for more than one or two minutes, but I do visit a dozen or so times throughout the day. Funny because I'm such a poor e-mail correspondent that I rarely have any e-mail, and I delete any junk mail unread. Still, that's 15-30 minutes per day (several hours a week!) that I waste checking an empty inbox.

- I don't spend nearly as much time blogging and looking at Facebook as I thought.

- I spend a lot more time than I realized waiting for my slow computer to do things like open Word or load a web page. Maybe it's time to get a new computer?

- I don't sleep enough. (As if I needed a time inventory to tell me that.)

- This is probably just a typical "mom" thing, but ... I don't stop all day. From when I wake up in the morning until I fall exhausted into bed at night, I don't stop for "me time." I have about 30 minutes myself at night after Anne goes to sleep and before I crash. I generally spend that half-hour running on the treadmill (a real one, not a metaphorical one ... though I guess I'm on that one a lot, too) and waiting for things to load on my computer.

- I could do a better job of setting aside "me time" on weekends, but I don't do it because "Anne time" seems more important than "me time" (and "Dan time"--sorry, Hubby.) I see her so rarely during the week that the thought of finding a babysitter for Saturday morning so I can get my hair cut or go on a long run is just ... unthinkable.

- I spend a lot of time snacking. It takes just a few minutes to go to the pantry for a cracker, or the fridge for leftovers, but it adds up. I knew I was snacking too much. The time inventory confirmed that, and told me I was spending too much time snacking as well.

- "Important things" like piano, writing, prayer, Bible reading, and time with Dan all fall last in the priority list.

When I did a similar "money inventory" years ago, I was shocked to see how much money per month I was spending on things like coffee, bagels, and lunch. The inventory was a wake-up call, and it caused me to change my habits drastically. I was hoping this "time inventory" would do the same thing. However, as I look at my time usage laid out in front of me, I'm seeing that I really don't have a lot of free time, and that I'm actually pretty good at managing what little time I have. I can shave a few minutes here and there by curtailing the e-mail-checking and snacking, but there aren't any huge swaths of time there that I wasn't aware of before.

Still, I need to work out a way to fit in more of the important things. I'll focus on that in my next "Decluttering" post.

Meanwhile it looks like this mind-decluttering thing is going to be harder than the money thing, and probably harder than the stuff-decluttering thing.

3 comments:

  1. Wow, this is a great post! Can you share how you went about taking this "time inventory" or is it in the book?

    How great that you realized you spend a lot of time with Anne! What a happy surprise, I'm sure. And I can totally relate to the gmail thing. I think it's like a little "retreat" for me.... Pathetic, but true. ;)

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  2. For the time inventory, I printed out a chart (using an Excel spreadsheet) that divided the day into 15-minute intervals. I printed it out (it was several pages) and basically carried it everywhere with me for a week, writing things down as I did them. Of course, there were times when I had to think back and remember the last for or five hours because I hadn't written anything down, but it was a pretty good system overall.

    The book does have a chart you can print out, but I think it broke the day into 30-minute or 1-hour intervals. So much of what I do is 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there, so I created my own spreadsheet with smaller time intervals.

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  3. I'm glad you learned that you spend more time with Anne than you thought. Mind decluttering is more difficult. I firmly agree. I am finding it very difficult to turn off my brain these days. My exhaustion is more than just from going to bed too late too often. Hope you are able to find some peace about it!

    Blessings!
    Deborah

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