Clear Your Space, Clear Your Mind by Kait Nolan

I’m back in the land of the living.  Thanks so much for the well wishes, everybody!

So, since I’m jumping in NOT at the very start of the round, I’m going to NOT talk about beginning stuff for once.  Instead, I’m thinking about something that impacts all of us, pretty well all the time, in one guise or another.

DISTRACTION.

I our highly connected, highly technological society, we are always plugged in, always constantly exposed to stimuli–but how important are all of those things, REALLY?  More often than not, it’s just a junk stimulus.  A distraction that takes up valuable brain real estate and pulls our eye from the proverbial ball (our writing and the creative process).

I have long said that the state of my space (house/office/whatever) tends to reflect the state of my mind.  And if it’s a disaster, then I can’t concentrate.  This is particularly a thing for me because I’m a neat freak married to a…not neat freak.  And there’s that balance between how much I’m willing to pick up after him for the sake of my own peace of mind before we tip over into resentment for “you’re a grown man, pick up your dirty socks and garbage” territory.  I haven’t got any answers on this front, as it’s a lifelong project I’m still figuring out (I SWEAR, dogs are much easier to house train than husbands).  But there are other areas where we CAN take control to get RID of some of those unnecessary distractions.

Email.

The thing that is NEVER DONE.  I have other writer friends who live in terror of opening their email because the state of their inbox is just too scary.  I’m one of those people who is chained to my email and tend to constantly check it.  It’s not that I’m necessarily expecting some SUPER IMPORTANT THING…I just have a hard time dealing with something UNFINISHED (aka UNREAD) being RIGHT THERE.

I started combating this last year by getting rid of my email notifier.  I no longer have anything that pops up to tell me I’ve got mail because that was derailing me from anything I might actually be in the middle of.  And since I get a high volume of email, that was REALLY influencing my productivity in a bad way.

I took another step in the right direction this year by starting to UNSUBSCRIBE from anything I really don’t read.  We ALL have newsletters or business circulars or all kinds of things that we’ve subscribed to (on purpose or not) over the course of the year.  They come in, and it’s automatic to click the delete button and move on.  But take the extra 10 seconds to open it and go to the bottom and click UNSUBSCRIBE so that you eliminate it all together.  Be brutal.  Those ads from Target or Lowes or wherever…how often have you EVER actually used whatever was advertised as on sale to save any significant money?  You don’t need them.  And that brings me to another distraction.

Advertising.

Avoid it in all its guises.  It’s just a means of distracting you and trying to get you to spend money you shouldn’t on stuff you don’t need.  Don’t just turn on the TV for noise.  Don’t turn it on at all unless it’s to watch something specific.  DVR everything or use Netflix or Hulu.  Skip those commercials.  Because billions of dollars have gone into making them sticky and memorable, meaning some of those are going to cling to your brain like some kind of mental vampires and suck away valuable brain cells.

Clutter.

We’ve finally finished completely cleaning up from the holidays and from having a month long guest in the house.  OMG, I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER.  We all have areas of clutter in our house.  For some of us, that’ the WHOLE HOUSE.  This is another of those areas where it’s important to be brutal.  If you don’t use it or need it, toss it, donate it, or sell it.  Simplify your life.  You can take your time with it, organizing your house in 52 weeks or tackling the mess with the FlyLady Method.  You don’t have to do it in a day.  You just have to start making small changes and rely on the snowball effect.  Be consistent.  Either way, get rid of the clutter.

Unfinished Projects

We’ve ALL got a list of unfinished projects around the house.  Stuff that we keep MEANING to do and just haven’t gotten around to.  We moved into our new house a year and a half ago.  Still haven’t organized the garage.  There are other projects.  Some bigger.  Some smaller.  All stuff I haven’t done because I don’t feel like I have time.  But the signs are there, reminding me on a regular basis, like a splinter in my mind just kind of hanging out and IRRITATING ME.  So I have a short list of THINGS THAT WILL BE DONE THIS YEAR.  You should to.  Pick a few of the projects you want to prioritize and just suck it up and get them done.  You’ll be grateful to have them out of the way, and then you’ll have more mental energy available for the important things.  Secondary bonus, you’ll probably have a plot breakthrough while you’re in the middle of doing it, because that’s how we work.

Either way, take some time to clear away some of the things that are sucking up YOUR mental energy.  You’ll thank yourself for it later.

6 comments

  1. Dang, you sure hit me where I live. Bought this house in 2008 – almost six years to the day actually. We went from having lots of storage space and cupboards – and a basement – to more floor space…but far less storage and cupboards – AND NO BASEMENT! Throw in a serious auto accident a few months later that I’m still fully recovered from and I still have all the stuff I could store in the old place…and nowhere to put it in this one. So I plug away at it a little at a time…but my office has picked up a lot of the overflow. So my goal for the rest of the month is to bring order to it…and I don’t care WHERE the stuff goes just so long as it’s out of my house. I’ve got boxes of things I haven’t seen the inside of in six years. If I haven’t missed it in that time, I’m thinking I probably don’t need it, lol.

    Anyway…thanks for the nag…um, I mean reminder…because I’m a lot like you. I work better when chaos doesn’t surround me.🙂

  2. I’m so glad you’re feeling better. I am too.🙂 Declutter is definitely the name of the game for the Maylee house in 2014. We had a jump start recently, but now I’m working at making the baby steps a daily habit. Thanks, Kait. This was the perfect post for me.🙂

  3. Nice reminder that de-cluttering is not just cleaning up the office. Yesterday I deleted all those e-mails that I was going to read . . . someday. Unsubscribe! Unsubscribe! The president of our quilting guild named 2014 “The Year of the UFO” <– in quilting talk, that's the year of the Unfinished object!" Maybe this all boils down to avoid distraction. Focus on what's important and let go of all else. Or most all else.🙂 Glad you are feeling better as well.

  4. Great post! Decluttering my physical space, my online life (hello, RSS feeds…), and my time is my main goal for this year, too. I’d love to hear how it goes for you, because I think everyone struggles with these things.

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