Clear your mind with these easy tips
Have you ever thought about the amount of information we keep track of as Moms?
At any given moment, you might be trying to remember:
- when the next doctor appointment is for your child
- what’s for dinner tonight
- what you need on your next Target run
- that your daycare is closed in two weeks
- it’s pajama day soon at school and you need to find pjs that aren’t too tight for your child to wear
- the next steps in a big project at work
- which food allergies your child’s friend has who is coming for a playdate
- to talk to your husband about whether to go to the church event this weekend
- that your car needs to get in for an oil change
- AND you keep forgetting to make yourself a hair appointment
Moms store a lot in our brains. We are the keepers of so much of the family information. Trying to hold all those details in our heads, while we go about daily life can make us feel loaded down. It can be stressful.
We worry we will forget something – and no wonder – that’s a lot to hold in our minds as we try to make decisions and go through our daily interactions with others. Plus, if we’re sleep deprived, it is extra hard to reliably keep track of all that without forgetting things.
I don’t want you to have to hold all that information. I want you to feel free and light – unconcerned that you will forget all these things and more, because you have systems in place that you trust, that will do the work for you.
You don’t have to remember it all. Let me repeat that so it can sink in.
You don’t have to remember it all.
What a weight lifted. You can “set down” all these things you’ve been carrying, friend. You can clear your mind and release any mental clutter. When you empty your brain of all the things you feel you have to remember, you will feel less stress as you go about each day. You’ll be able to focus easier. You’ll be more present when your kids ask you a question. Life gets so much better. As David Allen says, “your head is for having ideas, not holding them.”
So, let’s clear your mind and release that weight.
There are 3 keys to clear your mind from some of what may be weighing you down.
- Setting up systems that work for you
- Having those systems remind you when you forget something
- Using the systems consistently
I find that the systems that work the best are those that are the simplest. For example, if you have a fancy to do list app on your phone, but you don’t remember to open it for two weeks, then it isn’t likely to work well long-term.
On the other hand, if you need to remember something for later today, you might just write a post-it note to yourself and stick it on the kitchen counter. There may not be value in adding it to a more formal to-do list, since it is just a quick and short term to do. Keep it simple. If you have simple systems, they are more likely to work in the long term.
Do you like electronic or paper?
When looking at what will work best for you, consider your preferences. Going to the grocery store, do you like having a paper list or would you rather have a list on your phone? When you run out of something that you need from a store you go to regularly, would you rather write that on a list you have on your fridge or would you rather add it to an app in your phone?
Do you like having a paper calendar that everyone writes on? Or would you rather have an electronic calendar? (Or perhaps both.) These are all factors to consider in setting up the right systems for you that will actually work FOR YOU.
Set up a fail-proof system
The other thing is to set up systems that will work in the best of times and the worst of times. What does this mean? If you have to remember to check your system, it may work well when life is going along smoothly but be less effective when you’re in the weeds – when life has thrown you a curveball. You want something that will be visible in your daily life and/or will set off an alarm on your phone when you’ve asked it to. That way you can ‘set it and forget it’ and no matter what is going on, you will be reminded when there’s an action you need to take. If you have a new baby, you’re much less likely to remember to call the guy who comes to clean the furnace. Why not set up a way to automatically remind yourself?
So, I’ll tell you some systems that work well for us. You can tailor them to fit your situation if they fit with your preferences.
What’s needed from the store
When I worked outside the home, I would use Google Notes for this. Each note was able to have a checklist on it. I would have one electronic note per store of the things I needed. It was convenient to add to the notes from my phone or computer, which worked well since I was out of the house all day. The one drawback of this is you may not like having to keep returning on the app as you shop to see what you need from your list.
Now that I work from home, I have a sticky note on the fridge for each store we regularly shop at. I’ll add items to each list as I think of them. For example, I have a note for Trader Joe’s where we get our groceries and I have a note for Target where we get lots of other daily essentials. When we do our weekly meal planning, we write out a longer grocery list for Trader Joe’s and stick the post it from the fridge to that list for the trip to the store. When I go to Target, or my husband does, we just grab that post-it note to know what we need as we shop. It is less high-tech, but it works easily and effectively.
Appointments and Commitments
Where do you store your kids’ sports schedules, any upcoming appointments and your plans for that weekend trip coming up? The family calendar of course.
We have found Google calendars to work really well for our family. My husband has a calendar and I have a calendar. We share them with each other so that each of us has full access to the other person’s plans. We tend to put the kids’ activities on my calendar, though if your kids are older, you may want them to have their own. Family plans for all of us can go on either calendar. We both keep both calendars open so we don’t make new commitments without considering what both of us have going on.
Nice things about Google Calendars:
- They can be accessed from a phone or a computer
- At any time I can see what any member of my family has going on or coming up
- You can set recurring appointments for things that happen regularly – for example – it’s easy to add that weekly appointment without going in and adding each one individually
- You can color code your appointments and commitments to see at a glance what is what
- An event can be set to all day or can be set to a certain time
- Events can stretch over multiple days – like for a family vacation
- You can have a reminder or not have a reminder for each event and those reminders can be emailed to you or can pop up on your phone
- Your schedule can be looked at by day, week or month and you can toggle on and off the different shared calendars
- Not only can you set up appointments, but you can also set up reminders for yourself for things you want to remember or triggers for you to do something
How this works in practice.
We add every appointment to our calendar.
- Family vacations
- Days where daycare is closed
- Doctor appointments
- Times where my husband needs to travel for work
- Committee meetings at church
It all gets added to the calendar.
When my husband or I am asked if we can be somewhere or commit to something, we check the calendar and make sure it makes sense based on both people’s schedules.
There’s so much more to a calendar system than just keeping track of appointments though. If there are weekly routines you want to be sure will happen, add those! Maybe you want to remind yourself that Tuesdays and Fridays are bath night – add those as reminders to the calendar. Or add in a reminder to change the sheets, a reminder to plan meals for the next week, or a reminder prior to an event that a gift needs to be bought. Offload as much as you can to your calendar to clear your mind to be more unencumbered.
Have a hard time remembering people’s birthdays? Go through one time and add in recurring annual events or reminders for the birthdays of the people you care about most. They will show up each year on the calendar and help you remember to wish that special person a Happy Birthday! Bonus points if you set an extra reminder a bit before the day if you know you’ll want to get a card or gift. For birthdays in your immediate family, you may wish to add a reminder a few weeks before if you also have a party to plan or other special arrangements to make.
Do you have annual appointments to keep track of? For example, you know that you need to see the dermatologist once per year. You usually forget until the end of summer, but by then everyone is trying to get all their doctor’s appointments in before school starts and it’s harder to get an appointment. Set a recurring reminder for the start of summer to make an appointment. Or if your kids need an annual check-up around their birthday each year – save yourself the trouble of needing to remember. Just add a reminder to the calendar so you’re all set when it comes time to make that appointment.
In general, the less often you need to do something, the more useful it can be to have the reminder. This can extend to holidays too. Did you find yourself scrambling to get Christmas gifts bought and wrapped last year? Set yourself a reminder for a date at the end of November to start planning, buying and wrapping gifts. It will allow you to feel less hurried as you get closer to Christmas.
Think about the events through the year that you might want a heads up on and add them in as reminders in your calendar.
Are you ready to clear your mind?
Take a few minutes and write down which of these action steps would help most in your life. Then, go take action to create some of these electronic appointments and reminders. With your shopping lists, routines, events, appointments and birthdays saved in a calendar, you will have more bandwidth to remember all those little things you WANT to remember as you go through your day. Go forth feeling lighter and calmer.
What are your favorite tools to use for remembering things? Let us know below in the comments.
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