Making time to think

Posted on August 10, 2011

a writer's gardenDoes your mind play tricks on you? Does it whirl around in circles making you feel busier than you have any right to feel? That’s where I’m at right now. There’s a lot going on round here, but not as much as my mind would have me believe. Left to its own devices, it swirls around, creating pools and eddies of thought, creating waves, creating whelm. (What is whelm anyway? I know we can be over it or under it, but is there a middling whelm?)

I’m working on a story about organisation at the moment. Clearing clutter. Creating systems. Making space for thought and productivity. One of the experts made the point that we create much of our own anxiety and stress simply by not using the tools at our fingertips. If I were to write down all the things that I need to do, put them in order, pop them on my calendar and schedule time for them, I’d be feeling much less agonised right now. I’d feel as though I had some control. Instead of guessing and worrying and fretting, I’d be calm.

My love of To Do lists is well documented (yes, my To Do book is coming along well, thanks). But I’m going to try something new today. I’m going to allocate time for the tasks that are cluttering up my mind. If I spend half an hour now, it will save me hours and hours of wondering and whelm (I really hope that’s a word – if it’s not, it should be). Relieved from the duty of all that wondering and whelm, my mind will be able to do it’s true thing and think. Technically.

One of the things I love about freelance writing? It teaches me all kinds of nifty stuff.


  1. Jo

    Yep. Feeling it. But imagine a life lived in a constant underwhelmed. I don’t think we’d sign up for that. Maxabella, you crack me up.

  2. Miss Pink

    This is me to a tee at the moment. I am “so busy” and have been for months, but i’m still not getting much done.
    It’s actually quite stressful.
    Even with the To Do Lists, and crossing things off, I still feel like i’m walking on a treadmill and getting nowhere.

  3. Karen

    I agree with this in theory, but have to say it becomes harder when you share your days with 3 pre-schoolers. I pretty much save the ‘to do list’ for night time, and it looks a lot like this … zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  4. Donna

    My mind is full of whelm (usually the “over” variety!) and fight an unending war against clutter. This is also despite my daily to do lists… One tip I saw on Oprah that I LOVED – floor spaces DO NOT equal storage spaces 🙂

  5. InkPaperPen

    I run a mile a minute in my head. It is exhausting! I’ll look forward to you passing on some of these organisation tips. Good luck with all the whelm….


  6. violet

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. KC

    It was nice to come across your blog! what a fun blog you have and i loved this post! i have a stack of to-do-it’s i call them 🙂 started working on some of them today and i was somewhat successful!

  8. Rhonda

    ah I love seeing clutter free spaces and having a clutter free mind. I’ve been working religiously for several months on decluttering both…and yet it seems every time I wheedle out a little space something comes to fill it.

  9. Diminishing Lucy

    Your timings lead to a critical path analysis Al.

    Go for it.

    It’s my key to not going mad with whelm…


  10. Jodi @ The Scribble Den

    My mind always seems to be racing in circles, especially at 11pm at night. Yer…thanks.
    I need lists. I write my to do list up each night so it is out of my mind, have a notepad by the bed and try to calm my mind first thing in the morning with some yoga and pilates and deep breathing.
    Oh and I love a good declutter of anything! On a weekly basis too. (Control freak alert)

  11. Mum on the Run

    Aaah. And aaarrrgghhh!
    This post resonates!
    I’m drowning in ‘stuff’ physically & mentally.
    Lists, diarising & organising are makin some headway though.

  12. Anonymous

    Clairey H – I saw a great way to store artwork. Go to office supplies (or kmart) and buy those folders (not ring binders but an enclosed A4 size folder) that are about 3 cm thick and buy one for every year for each kid. Label them 0 years, 1 years, 2 years etc and pop in all artwork, cards, memorabilia etc. If you run out of space then just throw some of it out. Also, this saves time as you dont have to date anything. My son (who is 5) loves glancing back at it. But I’m sure when he is 30 it will all hit the bin!

  13. Balimoz

    We are slave of our own mind…

  14. MultipleMum

    I need to take a leaf out of your To Do book. Totally cluttered in here right now. Leads to inertia. Let me know how it works for you x

  15. Maria Tedeschi (Mum's Word)

    I have about a hundred to do lists floating around. Really should condense into one almighty list and then burn it because I’ll never get through it.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

  16. Mama of 2 boys

    I get this entirely Allison. For the past few weeks I have been working myself into a lather regularly, over all the things that need doing and all the things I have coming up. It seriously changes your capacity to cope with the every day and rattles the confidence levels. I KNOW I need to implement some systems and restore a bit more order to my days. Now just to DO that. Good luck with your shift to the ‘calm’ side :o)

  17. Cath

    Time to schedule scheduling! Just what I needed to justify the rest of my week’s activities. Thank you

  18. Allison Rushby

    I know I should schedule stuff into iCal and then just do it when the nifty dinger dings, but it’s easy just to muck about on Twitter, isn’t it?!

  19. Erin

    I’ve been thinking about head clutter for some time, so often in today’s culture we say we are so busy. Yet I think much of that is the head clutter. Whenever I get overwhelmed I write lists and I feel so much freer, I think just work through my list as leisurely as able.

  20. Maxabella

    Yep, my mind is often much, much busier than my body. x

  21. ClaireyH

    I hate filing fadmin stuff.

    And now I have boxes of artwork from creche and kinder that is multiplying fast. I am going to have to pay someone one day.

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