Clutter challenge day 1: the list

I’ve got the day off from work today because we’re celebrating Marlin’s birthday and taking an afternoon road trip to the little town of Lockhart, about an hour or so outside of Austin. So I decided to get up a little early while the house is still quiet and start on my first clutter challenge…the list.

I should take a moment here to tell you that even though I’d love to take credit for this idea, I’m just the messenger of something that’s worked for me. This concept first came to me from the uber-talented and always inspiring get-it-done girl, Lara Casey. Be sure to check her out; if you’ve got big goals to accomplish, Lara will teach you how to make it happen.

Sometimes I shudder to think where I would be without the invention of the Post-It (thank you, Romy & Michelle!). Because I always have so many thoughts racing through my head, I’m completely lost if I don’t write things down to be reminded of them later. At work I have a daily notebook to keep up with tasks and notes about the day, along with two separate to-do lists, reminders on my Outlook calendar, and post-its on my computer screen. In my car I keep a notebook for thoughts that come to me while driving (don’t worry, I only write when I’m stopped) and my purse…well, my purse is basically the land of lost post-its. I’m always swimming in them. For me, if it doesn’t get written down, it’s probably going to disappear, or come back to haunt me later.

So the first day’s challenge is the clutter list. There’s something really therapeutic about sitting with a hot cup of coffee, giving yourself twenty minutes of peace and quiet, and writing down every little thing that comes to your mind. I really like to tie this in to my quiet time with God in the mornings, because more often than not the clutter that’s on my mind are things I need to talk to Him about anyway. When I say write it down, I mean every thing, big or small. Give yourself twenty uninterrupted minutes (Moms, I know this may sound impossible for you, but I promise it will be worth it if you can make it happen). Keep the pen and paper by your side, and write down every little thought that comes to you: birthdays coming up, gifts you need to buy, chores you’ve been putting off, goals you’ve been meaning to set, family members you’re worried about, vacation plans that need to be booked, major life decisions that are weighing on you, books you’ve heard about and want to read, I mean every little thing. This is essentially a download of everything that’s weighing on you, because when you get it down on paper, you’ve given it meaning and you can then address it, and you no longer have to worry about remembering it.

Once you’ve got everything down, take a deep breath. Wow. Most of the time we have no idea of all the weight we’re carrying around at any given time. Some days your clutter list may be half a page; other days you could be writing a short novel. But once you’ve written it down, you’re no longer ignoring it, and that’s the first step.

I know twenty minutes can be a major time commitment these days, but I strongly urge you to set this time aside first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed, that way you can begin your day with a clear mind and also get a good night’s sleep. Try this, just for a week, and see how you feel. Then come back and tell me about it. Does this work for you?

Happy writing!

Ashley Terry 2011

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