How To Get Control Over The Chatter In Your Brain

I’ve spent almost all my non-work/non-sleep time over the past couple weeks painting. My dear husband is finishing the basement. He HATES painting. I don’t mind it so much. Plus, it’s something I know how to do, unlike most of the other skills required for finishing a basement.

He got two bedrooms and a bathroom ready for me and I went to work. For each room I had to complete multiple tasks:

  1. Prep Work
  2. Priming
  3. Ceilings
  4. Taping
  5. Main Wall Color
  6. Taping
  7. Accent Color
  8. Taping
  9. Trim
  10. Touchups (stupid tape, just do your job!)
  11. Cleanup
  12. Decorating

I decided to use a life-coaching tool to make sure I got the painting done and still spent time with my family and took care of the important things. So I put everything on my calendar. I first decided when I wanted to spend time with my family and added it to the calendar. I added some self care to the calendar. I added a few errands. And then I devoted the rest of my time to painting. I added it all to my calendar.

Each day I came home and my lower brain tried to convince me we didn’t want to paint today. But I was committed. I forced myself to get to work and the next thing I knew, it was 6–12 hours later. I never once thought about food. I didn’t think about checking Facebook. I never even considered stopping before I was done for the day. It felt like my lower brain took a leave of absence.

You see, my lower brain constantly tells me to lay down and watch Netflix. It tries to convince me things don’t need to get done. It constantly tells me I’m tired, that things are too hard, that I don’t know how, that we can do it another day. It constantly tells me I should eat something, that I NEED sugar.

My lower brain keeps me alive, but other than that, it doesn’t seem like it has my best interest at heart. When I spent time relaxing with my hubby, because it was on the calendar, it felt great. Unlike when I give into the urge my lower brain offers and then feel guilty because I didn’t get the stuff done I had planned to do.

Giving into urges, whatever they may be, just doesn’t provide anything real or lasting. It’s false pleasure. It’s a dopamine hit in the short-term for a net negative in the long term. My brain really wants that dopamine, so it always feels very important in the moment. But I ALWAYS get better results for myself when I make choices with my prefrontal cortex.

I’ve been wanting to try these time management skills I learned during certification at The Life Coach School. I just haven’t taken the time to sit down and plan everything out. But after this painting experience I’m feeling highly motivated. When I plan all my time with my prefrontal, and then I follow that plan no matter what, my lower brain just doesn’t have much to do.

Having a break from all the chatter in my head was kind of amazing. I got the results I wanted (rooms painted and ready for use) AND I got a bunch of additional results that were pleasant surprises. I didn’t realize I wouldn’t have any food chatter. I was so focused on getting the job done I didn’t think about the great feeling of accomplishment I would feel. And I didn’t have any negative consequences from giving into urges.

This experience was different than just being busy. I’m usually “busy.” But I don’t plan out all my time. I just do stuff that needs to be done when I have time to do stuff. Having it open like that gives my lower brain lots of space to offer opinions. When I’m super “busy” is usually when I give into food urges the most. And there’s just too much going on in my brain because I have a million things to do and EVERYTHING is an option.

Planning out all my time with my prefrontal, and then following that plan no matter what, left no room for my lower brain to have an opinion. That’s what was amazing. I knew I wasn’t neglecting the most important things, because they were on my calendar. And I knew I was getting my project done as well.

I think I’m going to dive deeper and try it without the big project. Want to try it with me? Here are the steps:

  1. Schedule your self-care, family time, and/or anything else that is a priority to you, on your calendar.
  2. Write a to-do list, completely empty out your brain.
  3. Decide what on that list you WANT to do, what you want to Delegate, and what you want to Discard (see previous post on this).
  4. Schedule every single thing that’s left after delegating and discarding, on your calendar.
  5. Throw away the to-do list, you don’t need it anymore.
  6. Follow your calendar, no matter what.

It seems so simple. It doesn’t seem necessary. Previously my brain was like “Dude, we’re always getting things done. What difference does it make if we schedule everything? Sounds like a lot of work.”

But I noticed a huge difference in my brain when I planned everything in advance. I felt less chaos in my brain. I felt less chatter/temptations/urges from my lower brain. I felt like I was in charge of my life. Let’s try it out together! Let me know how it goes.

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