Tips for Educators to Deal with Mental Clutter

Mar 18, 2022

Do you or someone you know have “mental clutter”? What exactly is mental clutter? Mental clutter is anything that makes your mind feel like it's on overdrive. It’s the thoughts you have while you're awake, and though you know thinking is a part of your life, some of our thoughts can make it hard to concentrate. It can include information overload, expectations, tasks we’re procrastinating on, and negative feelings.

Self-care doesn’t always look like getting a massage or going for a pedicure. Self-care includes taking care of personal and professional business in a timely manner. When you don’t take care of your priorities and you have overdue tasks and activities you wish you had time for hanging over your head, taking up space, causing worry, anxiety, and other negative feelings, it can lead to a cluttered mind.

As an educational leader it’s a common experience to have. The sheer number and variety of tasks is monumental. If you are the lone administrator in your building the risk of falling victim to a cluttered mind becomes even more likely. 

“The minds of successful people are well organized and have the ability to focus. If you want to make the most out of your life, developing this kind of mind is essential.”  -John Morgan

In order to ease the stress related to a cluttered mind you need to declutter by taking action so you can feel more organized, efficient, effective, and ultimately, happier. Filtering out the clutter will help you in many ways and will help your brain function at a higher level. Consider this similar to the empty trash feature on your computer. What can you do today to declutter your mind so your efficiency and effectiveness is maximized? 

Two quick tips: 

  • Create an ‘action list’ and write everything down as it comes to mind. You can use the reminders feature if you have an iPhone or create a task list in Google Calendar.
  • Delegate anything that can be taken on by someone else as soon as possible so it doesn’t sit on your ‘action list’. Keep reading for how to address items that cannot be delegated.

Who do you delegate to? I know your administrative assistant is busy so that isn’t always an option. 

  • If you are a middle school or secondary leader or even upper elementary consider ‘hiring’ a student assistant each class period. Have them serve as an intern and provide support services in the form of designing flyers, newsletters, making copies for meetings etc. 
  • Partner with your PTA/PTO and invite parents to volunteer in the office or classroom. 
  • Partner with a local non-profit and have them work on a project such as sprucing up the library or another space inside or on school grounds. 

What if some of the items on your list can’t be delegated? Of course, some tasks you are singularly responsible for. First and foremost - Time block! Schedule time in your Google calendar or iCal if it is a priority. Commit to finishing the task by the end of the time allotted. 

For those that are experiencing negative feelings and expectations, write those down on your action list too. Those negative feelings are barriers to your efficiency, effectiveness, and happiness and must be addressed. Schedule time in your Google calendar or iCal to reflect on a solution for those feelings and how you can resolve them. This is a great way to incorporate journaling into your daily routine. Perhaps there is a crucial conversation that needs to be scheduled with a colleague or family member. Or perhaps there is a system, structure, procedure, or process you need to incorporate in order to improve the environment around you. 

Those quick tips are just a couple of options to help you focus and keep your mind organized and decluttered. Simple changes such as this will help you make the most out of your personal and professional life and maximize your efficiency and effectiveness. 

If this resonates with you, consider registering for the March 31st Joyful Educator Lab where we go into greater depth on these tips and more through the 7 Powerful Practice Model which guides each person to create their own sustainable action plan for each module. Better yet, schedule a Vision Call through my Calendly link and let’s discuss bringing Joyful Educator Lab to your school or district for a spring, summer or fall in-person PD.

About the Author: Lisa Imel, M.Ed is the Founder & Chief Educational Consultant of EdSolutions Group. Lisa specializes in Human Potential, Learning & Development, Workforce & Economic Development, and K-16 Education Strategy. Several of Ms. Imel’s notable achievements include being awarded the distinguished Fulbright Scholarship, participation in the Argentina Fulbright Principal Exchange, serving as an Ohio Leadership Advisory Council Facilitator, appointed as a Trustee at St. Joseph Montessori School and recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of Cleveland. Ms. Imel graduated from Bowling Green State University and The University of Toledo and earned her Principal and Superintendent Licensure at Ursuline College and Ohio University. Lisa currently serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Ashland University in the Professional Development Services Department. As a former teacher, principal and curriculum coordinator, Lisa is a passionate advocate for educators and believes in delivering transformative experiences so that educators, students and families lead happier, healthier and more meaningful lives. 

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