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Marie Kondo’s KonMari method is still a thing. In fact a minimalism lifestyle in general is a thing. Why not also declutter your mind (yes, I am talking to you To Do List!)? Since decluttering your home is supposed to lower stress and make you a happier person. Decluttering your mind should be able help with that too, right? Yes, you’re right.
More is not always better
In our culture more is associated with better. We want to work more to get a better job to have more money to buy more stuff. There is that assumption that having more stuff will make us more happy. We can even show off our stuff like trophys. Our stuff can represent a certain lifestyle and status which we were able to achieve. We want our children to do more after school activities to get them used to a busy lifestyle. We also hope this sets them up for their own success. This lifestyle has to make us more happy and more fullfilled, right? Nope, not really. Many people nowadays are chronically stressed, burned out and overwhelmed. More is not always better. In fact less is more in this case.
When we take a step back and free ourselves from the assumption that more is better most of us find that we already have enough. Probably even more than enough!
Busyness doesn’t make us more important
We have long To-Do-lists filled with tasks that we want to cross off. Even if we don’t have a job outside the house we stay super busy, driving the kids to several activities after school, hitting the gym ourself once a day too. Maybe we volunteer as well, we just stay busy. It makes us feel important to be busy. All the things that keep us busy can also keep us distracted. We like being distracted because it feels uncomfortable doing nothing. It feels like we’re unproductive and are wasting time. It makes us proud that we seem to be able to handle all those things on our plate. We’re not stressed at all, right? Wrong! Maybe we’re too distracted to realize it at first but after a while the stress will creep up on us. Our brain doesn’t like too many things going on at once. Multitasking is not that cool, no! It leads to cognitive overload which produces stress and hinders the brain’s performance. The occasional multitasking is not the problem, but if it becomes the norm in your life it will become a problem.
Again, doing more is not better.
Achieve more by doing less
Now that we know that multitasking and having too much going on creates cognitive overload in our brain which leads to stress, what can we do to get out of this cycle?
Make a list of all the things that you have on your to-do-list and then prioritize them. What needs to really get done? What’s probably not as important as you thought it was? Being brutally honest with yourself really helps here 😉 You might wonder how many things are too many? A great tool for this is the 1-3-5 Rule. It means that you’ll pick 1 big thing, 3 medium things and 5 small things you want to accomplish on that particular day.
2. One thing at a time:
I know it is not always possible because…well life, but try to just do one thing at a time to keep your brain from going into cognitive overload. This causes stress and even anxiety because your brain doesn’t know which information is important and which one it can sort out or even ignore. Too much going on creates confusion, stress and overwhelm. We all have been there. Remember, less is more! If you do just one thing at a time your brain works much more efficient which will probably create a much better outcome for you. In addition by just doing one thing at a time you’ll feel much less overwhelm and stress because your mind doesn’t feel cluttered by all the things you’re trying to do at the same time.
3. Get bored! For real!
I’ve already said it, we don’t like doing nothing. It feels uncomfortable to be in stillness. We feel like we’re being unproductive, so doing nothing basically feels like wasting precious time. The truth is that our brain needs that downtime. Humans are not machines. Our brain not only needs time to recharge but also to process all the data we’re feeding it with. Taking a break and unplugging from the Internet helps to lower stress and also can boost your creativity. You don’t really have to do literally nothing. If it feels weird just sitting on the couch and staring out of the window for 15 minutes, try to go on a walk instead. Find something that makes you feel good, whether it’s meditation, a nap or something else.
Don’t expect to master everything right away. Changing the busy and filled lifestyle that we’re used to takes time. Getting comfortable being in stillness also takes time. It also needs time resist the urge to do something or to fall back into multitasking. At first, it will probably feel like being unproductive. Always remind yourself that your doing a good thing for yourself! Your brain will benefit from it. This new lifestyle can lower your stress levels. That’s huge too, since too much stress won’t benefit our health at all.