Stop the hamster wheel: do this to start feeling sane

I hear people tell me all the time that they feel as though they have lost control.  They tell me their days are packed and yet nothing gets done.  Their time is spent spinning their wheels.

Nothing is more frustrating than spinning wheels.

I have had my share of spinning. And I have met with clients who perpetually feel as though they are a hamster on a wheel. Frustration ensues quickly when we spin and spin and spin — getting no where.  And we chalk it up to life being difficult.

What I tell clients, and remind myself, is that the spinning usually happens when something, somewhere, in your life is not in order, out of place – in your space and in your mind. When your space is cluttered, or when your calendar is “full” and you can’t clearly see where there will be space to breath, or what the kitchen counter looks like without piles of mail, you become flustered.

You start to feel suffocated and overwhelmed. And when that happens your brain tries to make sense of what is all around, and stuffed. It wants to quiet the “noise” and the busyness but instead of stopping what feels like constant movement, and making space, it bounces around from thing to thing, idea to idea trying, in vane to accomplish something. Anything.

That leaves you feeling anything but sane.

Your life is not meant to be lived in a frustrated state. You brain doesn’t like it and your conscious self certainly would prefer calm rather than chaos. So, when you find yourself out of sorts, annoyed, confused, tired and generally out-of-order it is a signal to change things up. And bring things back to order. Try these tips:

1. Organize your brain.

Make a list of all the things that need to get done.  Highlight those that are priority. My list is actually more a brain dump. It is the place I write every annoyingly small task, and keep track of bigger projects. If it “weighs” on my mind, it goes on my list. This helps the brain see – in one place – what needs to get done. And getting it done is all contingent on how well you do the next step.

2. Organize your time

Carve out your day specifically. Plan for things to get done by writing them into your calendar or planner (I quite like this one).  Not scheduling your to dos, or tasks toward your bigger goals just makes them harder to accomplish. And isn’t that the goal? To stop the spinning and actually accomplish things? Your calendar can help you see what you need to get done, when you will get it done. I adopted the Ivy Lee Method last year. It suggests that you choose up to six “tasks” to complete daily.  You write them down (how novel), and complete them in order of the importance you designate.  Whatever you don’t complete rolls over to the next day.  It helps me stay focused and clear. And it has definitely helps me get more accomplished (usually in less time!)  Simply put there are no spinning wheels.

3. Organize your space.

Truth be told, you can’t “organize” until you know what you have and why. In other words, don’t buy containers and the like to organize “stuff”.  Start by decluttering what you don’t like, need and use. It lightens your space so you can see more clearly where necessary things should be stored. Lightening your space also helps you to see more clearly not just the countertop, but your vision for your life, your next steps. It helps you see your space differently, perhaps in a more appealing way.  And now instead of feeling suffocated, you feel free. Free to do and conceive of any number of good, fun, fulfilling things.

Feeling organized  – with you time and in your mind and space – puts ease in your day, and your thoughts. When there is ease everything feels possible and you start to believe that the spinning wheel can stop. And it can!

Decide that organization is integral to your sanity.  And then begin.

Stop the spinning wheels and do this to gain more sanity

Life can throw you some nasty curve balls. It perhaps always will. And that spinning wheel will always be there to hop on, if you want to.

So if you want to feel more sane (or just less crazy), let organization lead you.  When things are less cluttered, they are clearer. That clarity and order equip you to catch the curve balls.

And stay off that hamster wheel forever.

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