As moms, we often find ourselves juggling multiple responsibilities and tasks, and it can be easy to have many thoughts swirling around in our minds. This only leads to us being ineffective, lacking focus, scattered, and stressed.
In this episode, my guest and friend, Alicia, will be sharing a system that will help you prioritize and organize your thoughts and tasks so that you can tackle them with greater efficiency and ease. Plus, stop the mind swirl.
Alicia Cohen is a wife and homeschooling mom of 3. She is also a business owner and blogger. Through her business, Alicia Cohen Designs, she teaches busy moms intentional planning, effective productivity, and essential mindset shifts to increase peace, calm, and confidence while focusing on what matters most. Alicia built her business based on her own journey of overcoming her overwhelmed and frazzled life — what she calls the “hamster wheel marathon” — and now teaches other women the methods she discovered (and uses personally).
Connect with Alicia
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/aliciacohendesigns
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Transcript of this Episode
Have you ever gotten through the day, and random to do thoughts in your mind to like, don’t forget to make that appointment with the vet, or you need to finish filling out the paperwork? Or how about the bathroom towel needs to be replaced. Instead of writing all these tasks down or trying to remember everything, you only end up more overwhelmed and stressed because there’s so many things running through your mind. This leads us to be an ineffective, lacking focus, scattered and super stressed. And what I just described is what my friend Alicia calls mine squirrel. Instead of living a life with mine squirrel, Alicia has developed a way to capture those thoughts, put them in a system that will actually help you to prioritize the task and get them done. And she shares all of this in this episode today. Hey there, my name is Tony and I am the podcast I was the real happy mom. As a fellow busy working mom. Real happy mom is here for busy working moms who need help with time management and achieving their big goals without pulling their hair out. And in this episode, my guest and friend Alicia will share her step by step system to eliminate mind swirl by organizing your thoughts and tasks in this simple system.
This episode is sponsored by home life Trello. Now I know we are halfway through the year. And I know that you probably started the new year thinking you wanted to get more organized. And maybe you thought getting that fancy new planner was gonna help you with that. And you’re not really seeing the results. But before you go out and buy another fancy new planner, try out home life Trello home like Trello is the systems for the various areas of your life in a video course all in one is the systems that you need all box together so that you can show up organized and productive at work. And at home. There are Trello boards to help you with everything from planning your vacation, planning out your week, getting ready for back to school, or even planning out your meals for the month. Whatever it is that you need help with homelife Trello can help with that. And the best part is a cost way less than that fancy new planner that you had your eye on. So go ahead and head over to Real happy mom.com/trello to get home like Trello today, that’s real happy mom.com/trello to get home like Trello today.
I’m Alicia Cohen, I am the owner of Alicia Cohen designs, where I teach intentional planning effective productivity and important mindset shifts to busy moms, so that they can increase peace and calm and confidence in their lives all while focusing on what matters most. I know is moms, we have a lot of different things going on in our minds. And it can just get really interesting. Let’s just say that when we have all these things floating around in our mind, so I want you to talk to us first like what, what do you mean when you say minds? Well, what does that look like?
So when I say minds? Well, what I’m talking about is the state of being or the state of mind, where you’ve just got all the stuff, all the to dues, all the tasks, the projects, this kid needs this, this kid needs that, oh, my spouse needs this, the boss needs that, right? Like all of just I call it the stuff of daily life that just gets caught up in our minds and just kind of goes deep just swirling around and around and around. Like it’s on some sort of little, I don’t know, spin cycle or something. And it just doesn’t, it doesn’t quit. It doesn’t get it doesn’t leave us alone. It doesn’t, doesn’t go anywhere. It just kind of stays there stuff rattling around. And we just keep thinking, Oh, this thing. Oh, that thing. So that’s what I mean. When I talk about the mind swirl,
you know that I’ve experienced this at least once or twice. This week, I just started to talk about why you think that this is such a problem for us as moms.
I know for myself, I used to be in the mind swirl all the time. It was exhausting and frustrating and just Oh, it’s just not a fun place to be. So I totally get it. And so I just get so excited. Telling moms about how to get rid of the minds who are like when I was in the mines where I was like, Oh man, where’s the off switch? Could someone just please give me the off switch to my own brain so that I can like, get a break, please. So why is mine swirl a problem? Right? I said I just get so excited about this because minds were always a problem because when we’re in the mind swirl, that we’re not being effective. We’re not focused, we’re scattered. We’re stressed. It’s just not a fun place to be. And when we’re in that place, not only does it not feel good, but we’re not being able to do what we want to do and need to do and focus on what we want to focus on. We’re just kind of caught in this. I guess I’ll just call it like we’re stuck in the mud. We’re in the muck right How can we be doing the cool stuff in life? Like, I mean, enjoying the moment creating cool ideas and plans, problem solving, troubleshooting, analyze all that cool stuff that our brains are really designed and meant to do. We can’t do that when we’re just stuck in the, the minutia of just like, it’s just so so heavy. And it just leaves us at least if if you’re really dealing with mind swirl and it’s bothering you, and it’s a problem. It’s just leaving you stuck and distracted. And so that’s yeah, that’s why I just say it’s, it’s such a problem. And there’s, there’s so much more for us that we can kind of be liberated into, once we just get the mind swirl calmed down and under control.
Yeah, no, I’m totally with you. Because I definitely noticed the stress and the frustration. And I know that that is a place that I don’t personally like being in. So now I’m just wondering, like, where some of the steps or ways that we can start to get ourselves out of that and even prevent sales from getting at this point.
So the first thing is that I think we need to make sure that we’re having a mindset shift here. So when we’re doing the mind swirl thing, we are doing something that I call container brain for using our brains as containers. And I think, until we get aware of doing this, and until we get aware of that, there’s another way to do it. We just, we just keep on keeping on. But we don’t want to just keep on keeping on with a brain that’s being a container brain. So the first step is to get aware that there’s a mindset shift to be had here and to make that shift and to say, oh, you know, what I am using my brain is a container, I am holding all that mind swirl in my brain. And there’s a better way, and I’m not going to stand for this anymore, right? I’m not going to use my brain as a container. So that’s the first thing I have a friend. And she I kind of got this sense from her at one point that it was like a badge of honor for her to be able to see how much she could hold in her mind work. We’re not like playing some sort of memory game or memory contest here, right? There’s no prize for holding the most tasks in your brain. So just stop trying to win that trophy. Let’s win another prize, right? Let’s win the prize of having like a quiet calm mind where we fit where we’re feeling good. So step one, no more container brain, just NICs that
now that we’re no longer using our brain as a container, we can start to put a system into place. And Alicia is going to show us how
then let’s get a good solid system in place. And what I mean by a good solid system is one that is doing that container brain job for you. So if your brain is not the container, that doesn’t mean well just forget everything in your brain, because that doesn’t work for anybody. So we need a container, a system, a good solid system that’s going to replace that. So when I say a good solid system, there are a couple things that it involves, first, you’re going to need an in tray, then you’re going to need one central list. So these are the two big pieces of what I say make up a good solid system.
First, let’s break down what the in Tray list is.
So an in tray is instead of all the stuff going into your brain and you’re holding it in there. And in tray is where all the stuff goes instead. So let’s say you have an app on your phone or post it notes, or whatever it is you like to use, you need to have several places what I call capture points, these points in your life, around your home, in your purse, wherever, where you can, at any time capture, take note of these things that are bobbing around in your brain, or that are coming into your awareness that’s like, Oops, there’s something swirling around. Let’s get that down. Right. So for me in my life, some things that I use for my in tray for my points of capture, I use a command center. So in our kitchen, we have this, I don’t know it’s like got a blackboard and a cork board and some pockets and stuff, right. So that’s one place. So sometimes when I need to get something down, I just write it on the blackboard real quick. Another place and this is really key. And maybe I should have started with this one. But you really need to have I assume that most people listening if not all have a smartphone. And so I really recommend that you have one app, one key place on your smartphone, whatever it is whether you are like a Google Keep kind of person and Evernotes kind of person. For me personally, I use Microsoft to do I’m not affiliated with them or anything like that. It It’s free, it’s free. For Android, it’s free for iPhone, it’s free on your desktop, it’s a free program. I like it, I use it personally, I teach it in my system. So that’s what I recommend. But you need just one good app where everything is going to go. But if you can get stuff in there, just put it right in there right away. To get stuff captured down, post it notes pad of paper, you know, whatever it is, that works for you just, these are some of the things that work for me the command center, the app on my phone, post it notes, those are some of my favorites, I also have this fun little thing called awkward notes, which is a pad of paper that can go in the shower, which I quite enjoy, because inevitably, you know, when I’m taking a shower, or something pops in my mind, so I love having the awkward notes. Because you just want to pick a few strategic places around your life around your house, whatever it is your desk, your purse, your kitchen, what whatever it is for you just think, Okay, where am I when I’m having stuff pop in my mind, or maybe I’m just everywhere, and I’ve got my phone in my pocket, or maybe I’ve always got a pad of post, it’s in my purse, whatever it is. So think about that. And then pick out one digital place, and a few key physical places. And that’s going to be your in tray.
Now we’re going to shift and have Alicia talk about the central list,
you got to take all the bits that have collected in your digital and physical in trays, these capture points and you got to put them into one central list, which is not really a to do list. It’s really what I call It’s a tool, it’s a to do list management system, right? This isn’t just a to do list, this is really a system. And so this is key. So we’re going to take these things, put them in to our to do list management system. So what I recommend, again, for this is that Microsoft to do app, and then in there, that’s where everything’s going to get collected. So that’s why I said, you know, it’s kind of good if you can just put things in the app to begin with throughout your day. But sometimes it’s just easier to scribble it on a post it or on a blackboard or whatever. And it’s just for whatever reason, in the moment, that’s just easier. But you’re gonna take all those things from the blackboard from the post, it’s from the wherever, and put them all into the same app. So that you’ve got it all in one place, one central list, because what happens when we have all these bits and pieces all over the place, we’re still going to be scattered, we’re still going to feel scattered, because we are right, because we’ve got all these bits and pieces, we gotta consolidate it, we got to have it all, at the end of the day, land in one place, and I’ve got a bonus tip for you. With this one place, we want to make sure that we are keeping a prioritized list in this one place. I know it’s very popular. And a lot of people like to keep a categorize to do list. I used to do this. And when I kept to categorize to do lists, and mine was pretty and super organized and color coded and all that good stuff. But when I switched from keeping a categorize to do list to a prioritized to do list, that was when I finally was able to leave the mind swirl behind. I mean, if you’re keeping a categorize to do list and it works for you, then just ignore me. But if you’re listening, and you’re listening this far, you’re probably not feeling effective with with what you’ve got going on. So try it switch to a prioritized to do list.
Now that you have your intro and central list, now you have to keep an ongoing brain dump. And Alicia is going to share a little bit more about that,
then you just got to get in the habit of doing what I call an ongoing brain dump. So just a thought comes in, a task comes in goes in the tray, thought comes in task comes and goes in the tray, at the end of the day in tray goes into the to the to do list management system, and then you just rinse and repeat. And once you do this, and once you really get in the habit, your brain will trust the system not right away. It takes some time. So it’s don’t expect to do it for one day. And poof, it’s not doesn’t work like that. It takes a little bit of time to really get in the habit. Really get your brain to trust the system. But once you do, you’ll notice your brain quieting, you’ll finally notice that that off switch gets flipped. And then I don’t know it’s just magic. It’s just beautiful.
So Alicia touched on it earlier about having a categorize to do lists or a prioritized to do lists. And I know I have always been a fan of the categorize to do lists. So I just had to know what is the problem with a categorize to do this, that Alicia finds a prioritize to do lists works better?
The trouble with a category writes to do list, even though it’s super organized, it’s not super informative. I’ve talked to people who talk about having a categorize to do lists, everything is nicely categorized. But then they open the to do list, then it’s like, oh, well, what do I do next? Or what do I do today? It doesn’t give us that nice, like, super efficient, open it, boom, go, I know exactly what needs to be done. So when doing the prioritized thing, you’re going to want to have that for personal. And you’re going to want to have that for work, or whatever the like, big really big buckets are for you for your life. Right.
So you’re on board with doing a prioritized to do list, but you just can’t seem to figure out what is most important. What should you do? Where should you start?
I know it’s so tempting to think that everything is super important. Everything needs to be done today, right now. And it just feels so urgent. And that is another place to really start to reflect and work and kind of build a muscle I like to talk about muscle building. So prioritization is really a skill and a muscle that we develop. So at first we’ll look at the list and think, Ah, how do I choose, these all look the same, they’re all important. They’re not I know, don’t believe the lie, right? They’re not, they literally can’t be because you’re not going to do them all at the same time, something has to be done first. So there are a few different ways to look at this. But let’s just go back to like how we’re switching from categorize to prioritize, right, so we’re going to look at our category buckets. And then to the best of our ability, break them down, break them down into what’s going to be done tomorrow, what’s going to be done this week, what’s going to be done next week, and what’s going to be done. You know, this month, eventually, we break it down from the categories into the priority. So then that way, if it’s things for my kids, things for my spouse, things for my hobbies, things for my house, you know, whatever it is for you, well, you’re not going to do all those things today. So something’s got to go and, and this is also to and just be gentle with yourself. We tend to like to think that we can get more done in a day than we can. You will learn through practicing this method, how much you can actually get done in a day. And you’ll be able to prioritize. But
now if you have enjoyed how Alicia has broken down the system, she has an amazing workshop, where she shows you step by step how she breaks down her to do lists and uses the Microsoft to do app. I personally have sat through the workshop and found it super beneficial. Even though I am not a fan of the Microsoft to do app, just the system. And the way that she does her to do lists makes it so much easier to handle what life throws at you.
It’s called the only to do list system, you need to get your busy life under control today. So that is the workshop. And I go through how to you know how to do this, how to use the Microsoft to do app to set up this system and then how to start using the system, how to think about the priorities and what goes where and how to just really start getting after it.
If this episode has been helpful for you, definitely check out the workshop. The link is in the description and in the show notes. So head on over to Real happy mom.com/ 205 And there you’ll find all of the links that were mentioned in this episode as well as the link to the workshop. You definitely want to check it out. Now that is it for this episode. Make sure you stay tuned for next week for another full episode. Take care and with lots of love you