Boxes everywhere. Boxes packed 22 months ago by the flood restoration company in a rushed effort to save what they could amid the significant water damage. I had no idea what had survived the flood, what memories had been saved and what had been lost.
Initially I was excited to finally be home after living in four different rentals these past 22 months. But then the overwhelm set it. All I could see were unending boxes with mystery contents and incomplete restoration projects on top of my typical work schedule. I had no idea where to start, what to do with it all and really just wanted to sit and feel sorry for myself.
When you feel completely overloaded, your mind has no more real estate and the only feeling left is overwhelm, how do you move forward? Where do you start?
This week I woke up and planned my counterattack to the chaos. I used the four best ways I know to declutter my mind and thereby declutter my house. It worked for me and I hope it works for you.
1) What’s most important right now?
When you feel confronted from all sides, that’s when your brain feels cluttered. Ignore the big picture for a moment and choose one small task that’s in line with what’s most important right now and do it. Focus on one thing at a time. When you on overload, multi-tasking leads to mulit-mistakes.
2) Find a friend
There are certain episodes in your life that you’re not meant to experience alone. Make sure you reach out to someone for a shoulder, some wisdom or to share a laugh. Yes you can always find humor even in the toughest of times. The situation doesn’t feel fun or funny, but smile anyway. It could always be worse. Put on a goofy hat and move forward with the best attitude you can muster. When my friend and professional organizer Cecilee came over, I could hear the angels begin to angels sing!
3) Curb the ADD
Distractions, notifications, deliveries, text messages will always be there. Turn off everything. Don’t let anything within your control steal your attention.
4) Open your journal
The most powerful anecdote to my chaos was getting the thoughts out of my head and onto paper. Since my mind had turned into a bad neighborhood, I needed to get the clutter out of my head and into my journal. It’s a way to reboot my brain. Journaling has been proven to boost mindfulness, memory and communication skills— all of which were alluding me from the moment I got back in the house. This was my brain drain. All the ugly, whiny, confused thoughts poured out and the muddy waters start to clear.
Journaling is a chance to organize your thoughts and make sense of the chaos. You free up space in your brain and start to think more clearly.
I also benefited from the journal gratitude prompt which helped me look at my situaiton through a different lens. Instead of boxes, I saw abundance. Instead of annoying things to deal with, I saw the people helping me.
The journal helped me turn from negaitivity and a pity party to peace and producitivity.
If you are facing an all consuming challenge, I know the last thing you feel you have time to for is to stop and journal. I hear it all the time, I will start the journal once I have time! But it is exactly in those moments that you need it most and the benefits will be the greatest. So take 10 minutes, pull out your journal, and see how you feel after giving your mind that outlet. What do you have to lose?