At any given moment the mental load in our minds can feel like it’s pulsating at us, “Do this!” “Do that!” “Remember this!” It’s real and it’s time to lighten it! Feeling overwhelmed isn’t as fun as feeling free and in control.
It’s when you jump up remembering something for work in the middle of the night. The endless post-its and lists in every room. The empty cups of coffee are left on the counter as you try to remember everything.
Here are my top 5 tips for lightening the mental load. One moment at a time…
Tip 1: Expectations
For my over-achievers out there…we have expectations, like a lot of them. Although collecting invisible gold stars can feel like we are getting somewhere, sometimes we get nothing but headaches. Re-evaluate your expectations…what can you let go of daily? Like can the sink stay full until tomorrow so you can get in some self-care instead? Do you really need to get your inbox to zero at the end of the day every day?
What expectations do you set for yourself that you feel you have to meet every time? Those are the ones to re-evaluate. Lower your expectations of yourself, your partner, and your kids and see where it takes you. My hope is it helps you lighten that mental load and pay more attention to the things that really matter.
Tip 2: Ask for What You Want
Sometimes we feel like we need to burden ourselves with all the things and that’s not true. Especially, moms, we have what’s called “prospective memory” which literally means remembering to remember…you know what I mean. The moments when you’re like, “Ok, I have to remember to pack the money for the dance fundraiser. I better put a post-it note on the dance bag because I’m not going to remember this!”
Just think about how much mental space goes to prospective memory! Like a lot, a lot. But we can share the mental load. With our tribe, our partners, our extended family. All we have to do is ask.
If you share a home or kids with a partner, for example, share a digital calendar where you both can jot things to remember, notifications, and alerts for managing the family or household tasks. Teamwork makes the dream work! The worst part of the mental load is feeling like you have to do it all by yourself.
Tip 3: Consolidate your To-Dos
Nothing irks me more than a very long and intimidating to-do list. When clients give me a copy of their to-do list to work on their time management, sometimes I get a fairly large pdf file that goes on and on into nowhere. It’s hard for me to look at without heart palpitations, lol. There are better ways to create to-do lists!
Way 1: Consolidate your lists into Today, Tomorrow, and Later categories. Then focus on today and only today because that’s all we got. I like to create what I call a “Hit List” to focus on my top tasks of the day and only that day.
Way 2: Create SMART goals for larger tasks rather than a giant to-do list to know where you are going and how you are going to get there. Download your free SMART Goal Guide and Read more about SMART Goals here
Tip 4: Will We Live Tactic
I like this one. Basically for an item on your list, you will ask yourself if it doesn’t get completed today, will you still live? If the answer is “yes,” then you push it off to some other time. Not just tomorrow…pick another time when whatever is it makes sense. So if “Go to Target for toothpaste” is on your list and you still have 2 tubes in your closet, move it a few weeks out when you really need it…and perhaps other things to consolidate the number of shopping trips you do.
People who feel like they have no time typically waste a lot of it. Driving anywhere for a minimal number of things is wasted time. If you can have toothpaste delivered, order it, even if it’s $2 more than in the store. I’m sure your 30+ minutes of driving, shopping, buying things you don’t really need, and driving back is worth $2…your time is the most valuable resource you have.
The mental load will feel heavier the more time wasters you have on it. So ask yourself,
“Will I live without this toothpaste today?”
“Will I live skipping my boss’s daughter’s son’s dog’s birthday party?”
“Will I live not tracking my food today?”
You get the point…lighten that load from all the things that aren’t important!
Tip 5: Mindset
Last, but not least is a mindset…the general way you feel about what’s on your mind. We want you to have a positive mindset. One that is full of optimism. If yourself trapped in your mental load and the negativity of getting it done, give yourself a reboot. Go for a short walk, take a deep breath and remind yourself what is good and happy right now. Find something…the sun, your kids, your frothy latte…whatever is good.
The mental load doesn’t have to be daunting. Break it down, let it go, and mold it into something doable, positively-charged, and shared. Give yourself more brain space for yourself, for your wellbeing and to share with others.