Today we’re talking about how to help your mind feel happy, clear, and light. Last year, I was sick for a few months and had to simplify things. There was a lot going on for all of us, and I was waking up feeling like I didn’t have the energy to do anything—but at the same time, I didn’t want to keep going the way we were going.
I went through an incredibly helpful process of reducing my cognitive load, and in case you’d like to do the same thing (which I HIGHLY recommend!), I want to tell you how I did it.
The podcast will walk you through the process (hit the “play” button above), but here’s a brief synopsis in case you only have time to skim:
(1) I went through our home and got rid of everything that was physically draining me.
There was a shirt I hated in my closet, but felt like I should keep because I paid for it.
We had a bunch of knick knacks in our kitchen drawers, so I put some in the donation pile and moved others to the basement/organized them a different way.
I cleared out stacks of papers from my filing cabinet.
I took action on items that were waiting for me to “do” something about them. For example, I had an out-of-date calendar hanging in my bathroom that I didn’t want to throw away because I loved the family photos on it. I decided to cut out the pictures and tape them inside my closet with painters’ tape so I can enjoy them each morning. (Here’s a quick photo!)
And I made a little list of every room/area of our home so I could go through 2-3 spots per week until I could walk around the home and everything “belonged.” (This took a few months because I was recovering from an illness while I did it, but we also have a whole podcast about decluttering the house in a month that we’ll link at the bottom.)
(2) I asked myself a few questions:
- What do I want to start/stop?
- What am I hungry for?
- What do I want to say with my life?
(3) I went through my brainstorms of projects and dreams and goals and moved pretty much everything to “Someday/Incubation.”
Then I did a lot of thinking, journaling, talking with Eric, talking with friends, etc. and came up with a SIMPLER, visual, one-page vision of what I actually want to accomplish in the next 5 years. (You know it’s “right” when it lifts you—and feels exciting, but doesn’t feel hard. It’s that sweet spot…)
(4) I strictly reduced the amount of time I spend in email, social media, or on news sites.
Using the Streaks App for a few days, I gave myself four chances each day to check my email—and then I let myself go into social media for about 10 minutes and news sites for 5. Then whenever I felt the need to “check my phone,” I either did creative work in Evernote and Asana OR I read eBooks/listened to audio books, texted loved ones, and used my phone to move my goals forward. When my phone use gets under control, it feels like time expands. 🙂
(5) I committed to staying focused, prioritizing my health and my family, and taking control of my life.
I wish I could accept every invitation that is extended to me. And I really don’t like to say no to anything. But now, when an opportunity opens, I ask, “Is this in line with the vision I’m pursuing?”
Some things ARE. Like my “Fun Mom Certification” my friend Amy did (see the link below). And I found some new books that helped me think in a new way. Eric and I also started some new projects together.
But my brain feels light and happy and excited about life again—and I want the same for you!
Assess your current cognitive load and see if there are some things you can do to make it feel lighter!
How to Declutter the Whole House in One Month
My friend Amy’s Instagram (Fun Mom Certification!)
STEP Command Central – Quick Start!
Video: Making a “Someday List” – Creating Mental Clarity
Video: Creative Ways to Invest in YOU!
Lisa Contreras says
This is great! I have already subscribed to your podcast. I tend to engage in audio experiences ( long commute time daily) much more frequently than website content so I am super excited about the podcast!
April Perry says
I’m so glad this can serve you, Lisa! Good luck with your commuting, and I’m glad I can be your friend along the way! 🙂
Johanna Edwards says
I just find April’s voice so soothing and peaceful, it eases my mind straight away, let alone hearing the good and simply strategies to get through, rid of and on top of the piles around us and in our heads. I’m just grateful that you’re out there doing this in this reassuring and encouraging way. Thank you!
April Perry says
Johanna, thank you for leaving this comment! I am glad to know this can help you with the work you are doing. Keep up the great work! 😘
This is so great and helpful! I find so many things that drain me because I keep revisiting them, then putting them off. I’m curious how you go about creating your one page vision to make sure what you are doing aligns to it? We do that in business and it never occurred to me to do that in my personal life but love that idea!!
April Perry says
Hi Kira! I loved your comment and how you identified the energy it takes to revisit things…. So true!! My one-page vision is in pictures…. At the top is a picture of me (stick figure!) with symbols around me representing things like reading, connecting with God, having ideas, eating nutritious foods, feeling love, etc. Then there is a stick figure image of my husband next to me—with the same symbols. 😀
The center is a sketch of our home and children—with symbols of the kinds of things I want to feel/experience at home.
The bottom has 3 pictures—one representing our more spiritual work at church and in our church community, one representing our STEP program, and one representing our ARISE membership.
I also have a sheet next to that (hanging on my bedroom door) with a list of my very specific goals for the year. (Read scriptures in Spanish, maintain a specific self-care routine, reach certain business goals, etc.)
And finally, I have a “Daily Reminders” sheet in Evernote with thoughts that strengthen me and remind me of my vision and goals. (I include photos of those 2 sheets inside the digital note.)
Not sure if that all sounds crazy, but when I combine THAT with my daily planning and STEP system, it all falls into place with very little “willpower” required.
If you want further clarification, please let me know! I could record a quick podcast on this! Thanks!
I’d love a podcast on this, how to really stay aligned throughout the busy eeeks without a ton of “willpower”. Thank you!
Thank you for the inspiration, April! Especially helpful for me (and for many, I presume) is your question “What am I hungry for?”
Too often I try to run my life in response to a never-ending succession of self-generated, guilt-inducing “shoulds” — you know, all the things I should do, ought to do, could do, need to do, must do, should have already done, etcetera. What a difference it makes to instead focus on my hunger, which instead brings forth passion in a positive, affirmative, life-enhancing way.
April Perry says
Len, I LOVED your thoughts here! Just read them in the podcast coming out next Tuesday. 😀 Thank you for your insights!!
Tamar Drushka says
I so much appreciate the notes; I probably would not have found time for the Podcast. Thank you
Please keep in mind that not everyone thinks in pictures. My mother was one of those people. (I am super visual and it came as a shock as an adult to me to discover this.)
April Perry says
Thank you! Super interesting. I’d love to learn more about how your mom processed things. For example, the book “Resonate” by Nancy Duarte encourages us to put as many things in pictures as possible (in slide show presentations, for example….) because she said that when someone reads something, their brain then translates it into an image, which they can then process. I was fascinated by that, and so we have made as many things visual as possible in our home and business. But I’m sure there are anomalies, and it sounds like your mom is one of those? What worked best for her?
Jeannine Pound says
Thank you!!! ❤️