Life after 50,  Self-care

Don’t Let Mind Clutter Railroad Your Day-to-day Life

Anywhere I go these days, I carry my Everything Notebook (a 6 3/4 X 9 1/2 two subject spiral notebook). To the local diner for breakfast when my husband is home. To the store because it has my shopping lists. It is even in my purse when we are out to dinner.

According to my husband, I am the most list-oriented person he knows.

How Mind Clutter Can Infiltrate Your World

I’m sitting here looking back at the last year and a half and wondering how I ever let my life get unorganized and cluttered.

Oh, yeah, I remember. I retired from teaching. As a teacher, I had lesson plans, lists of students, lists of students whose parents needed a call, lists of students who needed to make up tests, lists of errands to do on the way home.

At last, as a retired teacher, I didn’t think I needed lists any more. I was a “big girl” now. I was RETIRED! I could live without lists.

HA!!!      NOT!!!!

When we decided that moving to our forever home was going to happen sooner rather than later, the urge for lists and notes returned.


after we arrived at our new home in a new city in a new state, I thought I could live without those lists and notes.

Know what happened???


Nothing happened. Nothing got done.

And at night, all of the things I should have done during the day started swimming around in my mind. Some of the bigger tasks would jump off the high dive to see if I would notice them.


I stopped and bought a new spiral notebook in October. Getting back into writing my lists and thoughts wasn’t easy. The short spurt when we were house hunting and packing up to move was excitement driven.

But, daily life is NOT excitement driven!!! 

I had to find the excitement. I had to create the excitement. I had to create the excitement around the mundane and become the boss of my life.

The Mind Clutter You Collect Daily

  • What bills need to be paid? 
  • What phone calls do I need to make? 
  • Which child needs to be at what activity on what day and at what time?  (I’m an empty nester, so that is one thing off my list.)
  • Is there an appointment I can’t miss today? This week? 
  • Did I mention there are bills to be paid?
  • What is happening in and around where I live that I would like to get to?
  • Today I met??? What was her name again?
  • Did I miss an appointment today?
  • I need to write a letter to . . . or drop a card in the mail for . . .  
  • What would I like to learn if I had time? OR Oh, that looks cool. I’d like to try that?
  • Did I pay the electric bill for the month?

And the list goes on.

I started making lists and calendars when I started teaching and my children were young. When my kids were in elementary school, I was teaching, directing theatrical productions, coaching theatrical (speech) competitions as well as raising my children (Yes, I was married, but my husband, at the time, didn’t see a need to actually help with the daily routine of raising children.) AND going to school as well for my masters and then my ed-specialist degrees.

Enter My Everything Notebook

My Everything Notebook possesses several pages (dated for the week spread at the top: Monday – Sunday).




PAGE 1: Household Tasks, Personal Tasks, and Business Tasks 

This page lists routine tasks for every day. The task is on the left hand side of the page and then each day has a column so I can check off my progress. If it doesn’t apply to that day (i.e. There was no laundry to do, or there was still enough space in the dishwasher for tomorrow’s dishes.), I place a NA (not applicable) in that space.

PAGE 2: Deep Cleaning & Weekly Cleaning Lists 

Sometimes life hands me speed bumps that stand in my way of taking one day and cleaning everything. They started when my children were young. “Mom, can you bake cupcakes for school tomorrow?” No problem, but vacuuming and dusting the bedroom just went out the window. By listing the rooms for the weekly “cleaning”, I can check them off when they get done. The deep cleaning schedule comes with moving into a new house after wondering how I ever let the old house get so filthy. At least this way, I choose an area of the house and go as far as moving things out of the closet so that the floor gets vacuumed.


PAGE 3: Correspondence & Email Check

Since I’ve moved, I find the need to reach out through the postal snail mail service and send people letters and cards. In many of their busy lives, they have little time to talk on the phone, but to sit down and jot someone a return note or card doesn’t seem so ominous. AND who doesn’t like something special in their mail box. I also maintain several emails, each with its own purpose. I like to take time when I have to stand in line or wait for my name to be called to catch up on my emails. When I clear the mailbox, I check it off.

PAGE 4: Writing Career Page 

Here I list all the things I need to accomplish as a writer. To me it is much like writing lesson plans as a teacher.

PAGE 5: Hubby’s Stops & Needs

Rather than jot his “landing” spot for the night on a piece of scratch paper and then wonder where I put the piece of paper, I have given my husband’s “landing” spots a page of their own. On the bottom half of the page, I then have room to jot anything down that he realizes he needs so that I can attempt to pick it up before he gets home.


PAGE 6+:

At the top of the next pages (I have no idea how many pages because each week seems to be a different length.) I list the day in the morning and the tasks I need to complete. For example today included pay the electric bill, get a phone card for my oldest step-daughter, and pay my husband’s health insurance. Each has a box in front of it so I can check off the task. If it is an appointment I need to go to for the day, it has a triangle in front of it, and if it is a phone call I need to make, it has a circle.

Between the Day to Day Pages

Here is where I place notes, ideas, rough drafts of letters, items to be found on sale.

What I also like about this particular brand of notebook is the pocket feature in the center.


Like I said, it is my “Everything” notebook.

Give making lists a try. What have you got to lose? I set the week up on Monday morning while my husband works on his trucking paperwork to send to the company. If you try it, let me know how it goes or how you adapted this for your own life.

If you already keep lists, what do you have added to your lists that just might help someone else?

It’s time to de-clutter you mind and get those lists on paper.

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