Life Coaching with Tereasa Jones - Navigate the World of Relationships

Life Coaching with Tereasa Jones - Navigate the World of Relationships

Tereasa Jones

How to Sustain Mental Effort When Your Energy Lags

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How to Sustain Mental Effort When Your Energy Lags

We’re all familiar with the feeling when two or three o’clock in the afternoon rolls around and we’re ready to call it quits for the day. Unfortunately, that’s almost never an option and an afternoon cup of coffee sometimes isn’t enough to really help you sustain your mental efforts until the end of the workday. With that in mind, here are some helpful tricks you can use to keep going when your energy lags and your focus starts to fail.

Take A Physical Break
When struggling to maintain mental effort, kick starting the body can often help kick start the mind too. Do some light stretching at your desk or take a walk around the block on your afternoon break. Even a small amount of light physical activity can stimulate blood flow and oxygenate the brain which will make you feel more energized.

Manage Your Time
By planning your time management in advance, you can avoid a lapse in energy that weakens your mental effort. If you know your attention starts to fail in the afternoon, plan to complete your most difficult and challenging tasks in the morning. If you leave your easier tasks to the end of the day, you’ll have an easier time working through the mental fatigue of those hours.

Keep A Distraction Log
When your energy lags and your ability to sustain mental effort is compromised, you’re more likely to be susceptible to distractions. Keep a pad of paper and a pen on your desk to make a note of any distractions. This way you’ll be able to return to them later when the work is done and you won’t feel like you have to follow each new idea the moment it comes to you.

Find An Accountability Partner
Partner up with a co-worker to help keep each other focused and on-task when you’re most susceptible to procrastination. Make a pact that if you both sustain your mental effort until the end of the workday, you can reward yourselves in some way. With a friend to help keep you accountable, you’re more likely to reach your goals than risk letting them down.

Ready to take action and sustain your focus? My free checklist can help!

Download the Checklist Now

Sustaining effort is a challenge for everyone at times, but it is an important skill to develop. Like most things in life, persistence is key if you want to achieve success. Would you like additional resources to help you sustain your mental effort? Book a personal consultation today.

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5 Tips To Help You Sustain Focus

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5 Tips to Sustain your Focus

Sustaining focus is difficult for anyone these days with so many distractions popping up on our phones, tablets, and computers every time we sit down to work. These distractions are particularly detrimental to those of us with ADD or ADHD who already find it a challenge to sustain focus over long periods of time. If you find yourself easily distracted, here are some tips and tricks to help you sustain focus better than ever before.

#1: Declutter
Visual clutter can easily lead to mental clutter. A messy workspace is full of distractions that can pull your focus and concentration away from the task at hand. Declutter your desk and you’ll find it easier to focus on the work itself.

#2: Breakdown Your Tasks
Feeling overwhelmed by a big project can make you more susceptible to lapses in focus. Breakdown a big assignment into small manageable chunks. Since each of those chunks is smaller and less time-consuming, you’ll find it easier to sustain focus over that short period. Give yourself a mini-break between each small task to allow your focus to rest and reset.

#3: Use a Focused Distraction
When sitting in a meeting or lecture, many people with ADD or ADHD find it helpful to doodle or squeeze a small stress ball. This kinesthetic action helps the listener focus on the speaker and prevents the mind from wandering.

#4: Work Offline
A survey quoted in
Time Magazine found that almost 60% of workplace distractions come from email, cell phones, and social media. Disconnect your computer’s WIFI and turn off your cellphone’s data to stop those focus-killing distractions.

#5: Protect Your Workspace
Having a designated workspace can help sustain focus as the brain becomes accustomed to associating that space with productivity. If you work from home, designate a work area that is separate from the relaxing areas of the home. This way the brain will come to associate specific places with specific activities. If you work in an office, protect your workspace from distractions by closing your office door and getting the privacy your brain needs to concentrate. If you work in an open office, try wearing headphones to signify to your co-workers that you aren’t available for chit-chat.

Ready to take action and sustain your focus? My free checklist can help!

Download the Checklist Now

If you’re having trouble sustaining your focus while at work, know that you’re not alone. According to one survey, 89% of people admitted that they waste at least some time at work every day. If you’re looking for additional help sustaining your focus and concentration, book a personal coaching session today.

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5 Tips to Help You Monitor Your Focus

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5 Tips to Help You Monitor Your Focus

One of the keys to improving your focus is to first figure out when, where, and why you tend to lose concentration. By spending a few weeks monitoring your focus and concentration patterns, you’ll be able to determine the optimal conditions for maintaining your attention. Once you’ve monitored what improves your concentration and what disrupts your focus, you’ll be better equipped to create optimal work conditions for yourself. Follow these 5 tips to start monitoring your focus today!

#1: Note Distractions
Take some time to become more aware of exactly what distractions are pulling your focus away from the task at hand. Are you particularly susceptible to being distracted by text messages? Try turning off your phone and keeping it in your bag instead of on your desk. Do you find yourself checking Facebook too often at work? Set up your web browser to block those distracting sites.

#2: Experiment with Music
Some people find it easier to focus in silence, while others find a little background noise can improve concentration. A recent study found that having your favorite music playing in the background can actually help you focus on your thoughts. Whether you prefer sound or silence, being aware of your optimal auditory work environment can boost your concentration.

#3: Check the Temperature
Physical discomfort can lead to significant lapses in focus and concentration. A study conducted by Cornell University showed that people are more productive when the thermostat is between 68 and 77 degrees. If you don’t have control over the temperature in your workspace, bring a sweater or plug in a small desk fan to improve your work environment for optimal concentration.

#4: Track Your Sleep
Becoming aware of your sleep patterns can also help you figure out the ideal amount of shut-eye your body needs for maximum focus. Some people find themselves foggy-headed with anything less than eight hours of sleep, while others need to be aware of the sluggishness that comes with oversleeping. Knowing your body and its needs will help you get the right amount of rest to maximize your wakeful hours.

#5: Monitor your Peak Work Times
Some people are most productive first thing in the morning, while others get the most work done right after lunch. Take time over a few weeks to monitor when your focus is at its strongest and at what times of day it tends to lapse. Being aware of your brain’s natural rhythms can help you plan your day and assign your most challenging tasks to your peak work times.

Becoming more aware of your environment and patterns is a great way of monitoring your focus. When you discover the factors which are throwing off your concentration, you’ll be able to take all the steps you need to optimize your work time.

Ready to take action and monitor your focus? My free checklist can help!

Download the Checklist Now

Need extra help monitoring your focus? Book a personal coaching session today.

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How to Improve Task Initiation

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How-to-Improve-Task-Initiation

Possibly the most crucial step in getting things done is the simple act of getting started. This can be particularly challenging for people with ADHD because ADHD impairs the executive function necessary for task initiation. If you’re finding that you just can’t get started on your To-Do list, here are some tips to improve task initiation.

Prioritize
A long To-Do list can be overwhelming and that feeling can often discourage people from getting started. If you’re faced with a long list of tasks, first decide which ones need to be given priority. Next, choose which tasks to move to a later date or remove from your list altogether. Try breaking down your To-Do list into daily, weekly, and monthly priorities so you don’t get overwhelmed by too many tasks at once. When you have a more manageable task list, you’ll find it easier to get started.

Find Motivation
Often we forget why we are doing certain things. Find the motivation to get started on your tasks by reminding yourself of the benefits and positive outcomes of finishing the job. By focusing on the potential rewards of completing a task, you’ll find you have more motivation to get started.

Build A Support System
Building a support system can help promote task initiation. A support system can include having a trusting colleague or friend help keep you accountable, but it also includes optimizing your health so your body can better support your brain. Factors such as lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise can impair executive functioning even further and make it that much harder to get started on your work.

Challenge Yourself
Goal-setting and positive reinforcement can help motivate you to start crossing tasks off your list. Set a timer and challenge yourself to work for a designated period of time with lots of short mini-breaks worked in. If you meet that challenge, reward yourself for a job well done!

Often the anticipation of a task is much harder than the task itself. By using these tips, I hope you can find ways to help yourself overcome the hurdle of getting started. Once you do, you’ll find yourself getting things done in no time!

If you’d like additional help with task initiation, contact me today to discuss a personal coaching plan.

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Mental Flexibility

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What is mental flexibility?
Mental flexibility is the ability to adapt one’s behavior quickly in order to handle different situations in different ways. This is particularly important when faced with new, complex, or problematic situations. One of the side effects of living with ADHD is that you lack mental flexibility. This is why people with ADHD find it difficult to jump from task to task. Many of them find it difficult to shift their way of thinking quickly in order to accomplish a new task or develop a new skill.

How to manage poor mental flexibility
Because people with ADHD lack mental flexibility, many of them find it helpful to structure their workdays so that they can focus on one task at a time. Allow a set block of time for one specific task and focus only on that one project. Although it may feel challenging for a person with ADHD to work within this type of structured schedule, it is actually more beneficial to allow yourself to focus on a single task at a time. When working on one project within a single block of time, take frequent mini-breaks to rest your brain and reset your focus. Managing poor mental flexibility is another advantage of single-tasking, which we talked about in our last blog post.

How to deal with fear of structure
If you’re reading this and struggle with your own mental flexibility or suffer from ADHD, you may be intimidated or overwhelmed by the thought of setting aside a block of time dedicated to one task. This is likely because many people with ADHD resist structure due to a fear that they won’t be in the right mindset when the scheduled time to focus on a particular task arrives. If that is the case, try substituting one task for another. As long as you pick one task to focus on at a time and take frequent mini-breaks, you’ll avoid the pitfalls of trying to jump from project to project. The important thing to remember is that you can always trade time, but you can’t recover it when it’s lost.

Ready to take control of your mental flexibility, my free checklist can help!

I hope you find this information helpful. Watch for my group on planning that I will be rolling out sometime this summer. NEED HELP? Set up a complimentary strategy session so we can talk about it HERE.

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Posted in ADD/ADHD, Coaching, Communication, Decision management, Decision Management, Life Coaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Focus

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In a fast-paced world with countless distractions and demands on our focus, mindfulness and meditation have gained popularity. The most basic principles of mindfulness are about living consciously and paying close attention to the present moment. Because mindfulness requires a special level of attention, it may seem challenging for a person with ADHD to practice this form of meditation. However, research has shown that mindfulness, when adapted for ADHD, can improve focus and concentration.

#1: Single-Tasking

With the demands of modern living, multitasking has become the norm for many people. Unfortunately, multitasking often does more harm than good, resulting in memory problems, excess stress, and increased distractibility. Practicing mindfulness demands single-tasking and asks practitioners to focus on one task at a time. Slowing down and eliminating multitasking can increase your focus and your productivity.

#2: Stress Reduction

Stress often escalates when people get overwhelmed by present demands and future fears. Mindfulness asks that your attention remain in the present moment. Instead of worrying about the future, mindfulness brings your attention back to the present and allows you to focus on what’s in front of you. Mindfulness will help you redirect your thoughts away from future worries and anxieties so you can focus on the present. In addition, the improved focus you’ll get from single-tasking will help prevent you from getting overwhelmed and stressed by everything coming at you all at once.

#3: Improve Concentration

Other research has shown that mindfulness can help rewire your brain and create new neurological pathways. It has also been shown to increase grey matter in the brain, and that extra density can improve one’s overall psychological well-being. By rewiring your brain and creating new pathways through mindfulness and meditation, you’re helping yourself find new ways to cope with stress and handle tasks. This all means that you’ll be better equipped to deal with distractions, resulting in improved concentration.

At first, mindfulness may seem challenging. In fact, many new practitioners struggle with feeling that mindfulness has made them more distracted. This feeling is normal because mindfulness will initially draw attention to your propensity for distraction. Noticing your distractions is the first step in the process. With time, you’ll learn to recognize them and let them go so you can focus on the task at hand.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Watch for my group on planning that I will be rolling out sometime this summer.

NEED HELP? Set up a complimentary strategy session so we can talk about it HERE.

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Posted in ADD/ADHD, Boomers, Coaching, Cognitive Distortions, Communication, Couples, Decision management, Decision Management, Friends, Life Coaching, Procrastination, Relationships, Relationships, Singles, Time management | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Ready To Take Control of Your Schedule? It’s Easier Than You Think!

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Few things upset our lives more than a failure to plan. The Executive Functioning area of the brain is the part responsible for planning, so when there are challenges in this area, planning just doesn’t happen. A misfiring Executive Functioning area can hit people differently and affect the way they interact with the world. For example; people with ADHD have a different relationship with time than those without ADHD. I’ve heard my clients say there are only two times: there is “now”, and there is “never”. This means that if someone with ADHD doesn’t do something immediately, it will never get done.

Even though there can be lot of chaos in life for people who fail to plan, there are a few upsides as well. One is thrill of immediate gratification and being flexible enough to do whatever interests them at the time. Many of my clients in the past have avoided planning altogether for fear that they would “put themselves in a box” and then life would just not be pleasant and spontaneous. The ones who have embraced planning, however, have found the opposite to be true. If you plan out your time in advance, you will be more efficient. If you are more efficient, you will have more time to play.  True, some of the spontaneity is taken out of your life, but there will also be the relief you feel knowing the essentials of your day are taken care of.

In response to clients’ avoidance of planning, for fear they would be trapped or “in a box”, I developed a bit of a mantra. It goes like this: You can trade time, but you can’t steal it. This means that if you have a time set aside for one thing but you want to do another, you have to look at your schedule and decide what you are going to trade for that time. If I have blocked off time for writing, and I’m not feeling creative at the time, I can’t just blow it off. I have to find another block of time to move it to. Sometimes that block of time will end up being my free time. That really stinks, but I have to make a decision to either take my free time now and write later, or write now so that I can take my free time later. It really is pretty simple. I do, however, have to be honest here. I occasionally steal my time. Yep, I’ll admit to it. You will too. You don’t have to be 100% perfect on this. But if you aren’t at least 90%, your life will start to spin out of control.

After accepting that there is merit in planning ahead, the next step is to decide how to do it. I recommend weekly planning at the same time each week, with daily planning in order to fulfill your weekly commitments. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Decide on your planning tools. There are many out there and people have their own preferences. Personally, I use a digital calendar and a paper planner. Most people don’t differentiate between calendars and planners, but there is a definite difference. I’ll say more about that in a future post.
  • Know the difference between a “to do” item and a project. A “to do” item is usually simple and can be accomplished without multiple steps. A project will have many steps (or multiple “to do” items) in order to complete it.
  • Plan at the same time every week, and then adjust your plan every day.
  • Consider weekly planning on either Sunday or Monday morning to get your week started right.
  • Daily planning can be done either the night before or in the morning. I prefer the night before so that I don’t waste any time in the mornings. It also helps me get up and around because I already know what I am doing that day.
  • Block off spaces of time for each of the things you plan to accomplish. Be realistic and remember that people with ADHD tend to see time differently than others. Be sure and add extra time to your estimate to account for this tendency.
  • Find yourself an accountability partner. This could be a friend or a coach. I wouldn’t normally recommend a family member. Too often when a family member fills this role, it is seen as nagging, whereas with a friend or a coach, it is seen as reminding.
  • The last step is your daily review. Review at the end of your day how well your plan went. Note what went right and what went wrong. Make adjustments in your style accordingly.

I hope these tips help you. Watch for my group on planning that I will be rolling out sometime this summer. Planning is a skill. Skills take time and practice. If you are 10% better next week than this week, give yourself a huge pat on the back. It’s a process.

NEED HELP? Set up a complimentary strategy session so we can talk about it HERE.

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Executive Functioning and Problem Solving

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There is no such thing as a problem-free life. I wish there was, but there just isn’t! That’s the first truth that we have to accept. When we are faced with a problem, we could always try to avoid it. But avoidance is actually counterproductive. The more we avoid the problem, the bigger it gets. We could try to give it to someone else, but that doesn’t usually work either. Why? Because it isn’t their problem, and the solution they come up with is their own, not ours. We could just make a quick decision and call it done. How many times I have done this, only to regret it later. So… what’s the solution to the problem of having problems?

Before we talk about solutions, let’s talk about why it can be difficult for those with ADHD to process them. The Executive Functioning center of the brain is where problem solving takes place. It is also an area of the brain that people with ADHD have difficulties with. After we acknowledge that the Executive Functioning center of the brain isn’t going to help very much, we can develop strategies to make sure that a person with ADHD doesn’t become so overwhelmed with solving their problems that they just give up trying.

Here are some of the roadblocks that I personally have when dealing with problems. Maybe you will see yourself in some of them:

#1: I haven’t clearly defined the problem. (I need to look under the hood)
#2: It seems like it will take too much time. (I stink at estimating time)
#3: There are too many possibilities or choices. (That overwhelming feeling is waiting in the shadows)
#4: Fear of making the wrong choice. (Consequences!? I’m not sure what they are yet, but I don’t want to have to pay them)

I could make the list longer, but I think you get the gist.

Let’s take a look at Roadblock #1: I haven’t clearly defined the problem.
If we aren’t careful, we could work and work to solve a problem that isn’t really a problem at all. Here is an example: One of my clients wanted to work on getting along better with her boss. She said the lines of communication between them was poor. We worked and worked on this problem, but made no headway. Finally, I asked her if she was sure that this was the right problem to be working on. She initially said that it was, but upon further discussion, it turned out that the real problem was that she didn’t want to work there at all. She really wanted to pursue her dream to become an interior designer. We were able to change course after correctly identifying the “real” problem and have worked out a plan for her to return to school (while still being employed) to get her credentials. Of course there are many more challenges she will need to overcome, but I have faith that she will be able to address them now that she has clearly defined the problem.

On to Roadblock #2: It seems like it will take too much time.
Being realistic about time is another issues that people with ADHD have. After clearly defining the problem, one of my favorite strategies to deal with this roadblock is to “chunk it down”. All this really means is that you list the steps that need to be taken. After listing all of the steps, you may have 5-10 more manageable “to-do” items on your list. Now you can get a grasp on how much time you think each one of the steps will take. Write down that number… and then double it. Yes, I said DOUBLE it. Knowing that correctly estimating times is a challenge, we should give ourselves a cushion. I can almost hear you now saying “But what if I finish before the time is up and have nothing left to do? I will be bored!” First, boredom won’t kill you, and secondly, always have something on hand that you can do should you find yourself with some extra time on your hands.

How about Roadblock #3: Too many choices or possibilities.
The biggest problem with this roadblock is that it often leads to either procrastination or paralysis. Either way, the decision isn’t being made. When you are confronted with a situation where you have many possible choices, it might be difficult to choose among them, even when the stakes are low and most of the choices would turn out fine. So, narrow your focus. Pick 3 or 4 of the possible choices and look at their pros and cons. Eliminate each choice one at a time until you only have one left. That’s the one! That is your choice. See, that isn’t so hard. I know, easy to say when you aren’t the one standing in the cracker aisle trying to make a decision about the right cracker for the occasion. Really, your guests probably won’t even notice!

Finally, there is Roadblock #4: Fear of making the wrong choice.
This is a first cousin of Roadblock #3, too many choices. Ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that could happen if I make the wrong choice?” Usually the worst thing isn’t really all that bad. This is really based on a limiting belief that there is a “right” choice and a “wrong choice”, and you must choose the “right” one. Develop something you can say to yourself (a mantra) when this limiting belief threatens to derail you. An example might be. “There is no “right” or “wrong” choice, any choice I make will work just fine”. Find a mantra that resonates with you and work on it. But keep it short. Our subconscious loves it when we give it too much information. Gives it more to argue about!

Give these suggestions a try and see if they work for you.

If you would like some help with these, please contact me to set up a complimentary strategy session and we will see if working with me might help you!

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Executive Functioning – The Root of the Problem for Those with ADHD

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Executive functioning is the decision-making center of the brain. It’s the part of our brains that helps us do just about everything that we do, except for autonomic functions. We don’t need to think about breathing, for example, it just pretty much happens. We don’t think about our eyes blinking as they, for the most part, just open and shut rapidly on their own. However, we do need to think about what time we need to get to work on time, or plan family vacations, or finish our homework, or get our expense reports in at work. These are functions and decisions that will have a consequence attached if they don’t get done. Some people call our executive functioning center the “CEO” of the brain. This is a pretty good visual for all of the things that executive functioning is responsible for.

These kinds of decisions are also the ones that are the most difficult for a person with ADHD. Why? Because the ADHD brain lacks the stimuli to get its thoughts organized properly, or to even remember that it has to consciously think about certain things. The CEO isn’t doing their job!

For people with ADHD, planning, problem solving, attention, working memory, verbal reasoning, inhibition, multi-tasking, mental flexibility, initiation, task self-monitoring, emotional regulation, sustaining focus, and sustaining effort are functions that are not working properly. Wow, as I read what I just typed, I thought, “What a bleak picture that paints of people with ADHD.” Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my ADHD clients! Let me tell you that people with ADHD are some of the most creative, fun-loving, sensitive, caring people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. But the reason they are my clients is because their Executive Functioning Center needs some tweaking!

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to focus on Executive Functioning. Without a good understanding of how it impacts the ADHD brain, it is difficult to understand what’s actually going on and how to develop systems, strategies, and routines to take care of those things that don’t come so easily to people with ADHD.

Some things to remember as you go through this series are:

  • Not everyone is the same. There is a wide spectrum of differences and abilities in the Executive Functioning of all people, and this is certainly true for people with ADHD as well.
  • When I work with people with ADHD, the first thing I do is look for their strengths. It is so much easier to use strengths to develop plans rather than solely focusing on challenges.
  • We all have challenges. All of us! People with ADHD have some challenges that are pretty predictable given their diagnosis, but that doesn’t make them less able to perform.
  • Through the development of systems, strategies, routines, and self-compassion, people with ADHD can be productive and on top of their lives. It just takes some strategizing.

If you or someone you care about has ADHD, you are not going to want to miss out on this series. First comes understanding, then comes action. Without understanding, it’s hard to know what to do next. That is the reason coaching is an irreplaceable part of the treatment plan for people with ADHD.

Please comment and let me know what you would like to know about Executive Functioning. I’ll be sure and include those thoughts in the series. And if you need a coach, or you think you might benefit from coaching, please contact me to see if working with me might help. You can grab a copy of my new e-book “Living Life Intentionally with ADHD, Open the Door to Your Potential” here. I hope you find it helpful!

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Minimalist or Simplicity, What’s the Difference?

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Everywhere you turn today, you see books, articles, and blog posts about simplifying your life, or the value of a minimalist lifestyle. Some might say that both phrases have been overused, and perhaps they would be right. But it’s the concepts, not the words, that I’m interested in. What you decide to call these concepts isn’t nearly as important as what you actually do with them.

When you decide to live a clutter-free life, I think it’s important to think about all the “stuff” you have, all the “stuff” you bring in, and all the “stuff” you can get rid of. If you are anything like most of us, you bring in a lot more stuff than you take out. This leads to massive amounts of clutter in your home. Today, many people rent at least one, or sometimes more, storage units, just to house their “stuff”. Their “stuff” has literally grown to the point where it can no longer be contained in their homes. Storage lockers might be great if you have a spare million or two lying around, but pretty expensive for the rest of us. So, what can we do to help get rid of some of our “stuff”?

For now, let’s think about this as living with less, but still having what you need and want. There are a lot of tips on how to clear your closet or organize your drawers, but I don’t think that’s what is needed here. I think what you need is a new way of thinking about your stuff. We are all consumers, that’s for sure. So, how do we stop all of this consumption? Why should we want to stop it? The bigger, perhaps more important question is “What will it mean for my life if I live with less, but still live with the things I love?”

I can share what it means to me as I downsize, declutter, and put the brakes on my consumption. It means I have:

  • More time with my family.
  • More space and time for hobbies.
  • More time to create.
  • A space that is pleasing to me, especially when I first get home. I can actually enjoy the beauty of my home, without the clutter.
  • More energy. It takes a lot of energy to tolerate clutter.
  • Less stress. Fewer choices to make leaves me free to spend more time enjoying things.

I guess you could say it all in four words: freedom, time, space, and energy. These are the things that I am learning I can have, if I just give up bringing more in, and spend more time taking things out!

How about you? What would it mean to you to declutter, simplify, minimize, and limit your consumption?

I’d love to hear about some of the things you do to streamline your life.  We learn by sharing with each other, so comment below and let’s start streamlining together. You can grab a copy of my new e-book “Living Life Intentionally with ADHD, Open the Door to Your Potential” here. I hope you find it helpful!

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