Transcript: Brain Clutter with Dina Cataldo
Hello, my friend, how are you today? I hope you are having a fabulous day wherever you are in the world. And I want to share with you, if you have been following with me for any length of time, you might have heard one of my podcasts where I mentioned the windows for my house, and I got all of my windows and doors installed and they are absolutely beautiful. They are stunning. They are the windows of my dreams. I'm kind of in love with them. And you know, if you saw them, you would be to, they are these beautiful black, French looking windows. You know, that they have like the tri-panes. They are just, they're stunning. If you're following me on Instagram, I'll be sure to post some, you can follow me there at Dina dot Cataldo. And you know what? This is actually a really great example about what I'm going to talk to you about today.
Brain clutter, that's right, brain clutter and brain clutter takes up so much energy. And we don't even notice it because we're just not paying attention. And the reason why the windows are such a great example of this is that the whole reason that I decided I was going to refit get new windows for my house is because there were some windows and specifically my bedroom window that I couldn't see out of, like the seals had broken over the years and I would wake up in the morning and I'd want to look on my garden, but I would look out and there was this big blob of grayness. I couldn't see into my garden at all. One morning, I turned to look out the window and I saw it and it just clicked with me. It was just enough is enough. I'm not doing this anymore.
I'm tired of thinking about how I need new windows and you know how I can't see out into the garden and I'm going to change things. I'm going to just order new windows. And so I finally did it. And so many of us just get into the groove of living life daily. And we don't see the mental clutter that accumulates and SAPs our energy. And that was just one example of something in my life. Something that I was thinking about that was sapping mental energy from me. And when you and I talk today, well, I'm going to be talking. Hopefully you're listening. But when we talk today about brain clutter, I want you to really think about, and start to dive into in your life where you might not see some of the energy drainers that are happening in your brain. And so I'm going to give you some ideas about where this might be showing up for you.
I know when I talked to my clients about it, they're often surprised by it and they just don't see it. So I want to bring you some awareness of some of this brain clutter. And I want to offer some solutions for you that are very easy to start doing, but you just have to do them. And there's, you know, you heard this phrase today. It was fabulous. It was like, I can open the door for you, but I can't shove you through the door. So if you want to implement these great, that is going to make a vast improvement in your life. But if you don't, oh, well, I really hope you do though, because this is so important for all of us. So the very first thing I want you to do is you're listening to me. Whether you're in your car, maybe you're in your kitchen, cleaning, doing anything around the house.
I want you to look around you. Do you like what you see is everything neat, tidy? Where do you see clutter? Maybe there's messy stacks of books and papers. Maybe there's some laundry on the floor. Maybe you have some things in front of you that your eyes are on, that you want to get rid of like chipped dishes. And you've just been thinking about these things. It's on your mind. You don't think about it all the time, but every so often you look into the corner and you say, ah, you know, I really should get some new dishes. Oh, I really should get new windows. None of this is meant to judge you. If you have laundry or books or stacks, anywhere in your home or your office, clutter doesn't mean anything about you. They may reflect the state of your mind when it comes to different areas of your life.
But they're not a problem unless you make them a problem. Our homes are never Instagram ready and that's okay. I really want to stress that. There's nothing wrong with you because it's so easy for us to get into self judgment. When we see a stack of papers and say, oh, I should clean that up. Oh, I should, I should get new windows. I didn't beat myself up about my windows. I just decided, okay, I'm done thinking about them. This is not something I want to spend any mental energy on, same thing with stacks. Like if you look at them and you're beating yourself up, you're really just punching yourself in the face over and over again. Every time you look at that stack of papers, instead, you can just decide, okay, this is not something I want to spend my mental energy on. I'm going to devote some energy to cleaning it up.
So I'm not devoting precious time and energy just to thinking about it and not actually doing anything about it. All right. So I'm going to just say all this right. To set the stage for what we're going to talk about in this podcast. And that's all the brain clutter that comes up, right? So just like we have clutter in our home, in our office, we have clutter in our mind and it impacts how we function and the amount of energy we have. So anytime I have a client, who's talking to me about how she doesn't have time to do X, Y, Z, or she feels overwhelmed or stressed or anxious, which is probably a lot like you, that's probably why you're listening. Then I know that they have brain clutter. They may not see it yet. And that's okay, but we just keep chipping away.
We just kept keep showing more. We keep pulling the curtain back. So finally, you can see what's going on in your brain. If you're like me, when I see things in places where they're not supposed to be, I have thoughts about them. It takes up some space. In my mind, I tell myself I need to clean it or I'll get to it eventually. And I've told myself these things probably multiple times, like the window situation. I told myself multiple times I should really get new windows. It just takes up mental space and energy. I could use elsewhere. It doesn't seem like a whole lot because maybe I look at the windows once a day and I have a brief thought about it. But imagine accumulating all that time that I spend looking at the window and thinking, oh, I should get new windows. I probably spent a good half hour of my life thinking about my windows.
So I just want you to start seeing how this accumulates for some lawyers, when their office has stacks, they worry, they can't find things in it or that they're going to miss a deadline. And that is what is continuously on their mind. They're thinking about how they're going to miss something. And they have this underlying feeling of worry in their body and that's taking away energy. In fact, it doesn't make us more productive when we feel that way, it makes us less productive. So if you ever notice that when you feel anxious or stressed, that you actually kind of go in the state of this freezing, like that fight or flight, right? Like you've got like this freezing motion in your body. You feel tight, you close your shoulders. Maybe you are in an unproductive state. And that just is coming from your thoughts about a stack seems pretty crazy, right?
And then others of us, we try to justify that we're doing something by doing something not as productive or as necessary as needs to be done so that we can say that we're doing something, but really the most productive action we could be taking for our business for our practice is just deciding to clean up that stack. Hey, that is the kind of mental clutter or one of the kinds of mental clutter that is happening for so many of us. And I want you to see this, if this is happening for you, I'm going to go through some more of these to help you start clearing more of this brain clutter and have more energy for your work. So I have one client who has a lot of thoughts about the organization of her office and what her current state of organization means about her and hitting her goals.
She's made it mean that she is, you know, not going to hit her goals, that she can't do this while she has stacks of papers. And of course her mind's going there instead of focusing on the data about her business and how she can grow it. And when our brain is focused on a stack of papers, instead of focused on the relevant data, that's going to help us grow. Then we are in an unproductive state. And so when we decide that we are going to take action, when we decide to get the help we need, when we decide that we are going to take any action towards clearing up this brain clutter, we are going to get more energy behind us to start taking the relevant types of action that we need. And sometimes that means we've got to start just cleaning stuff out. Okay.
This is just the one way that we're talking about so far about brain clutter. I want to talk to you about some of the superficial brain clutter that a lot of people are talking about nowadays, but I tell ya, I have clients coming to me and this is still an issue with them. And we just take the time in a session sometimes, and we just have them shut down their notifications. We have them shut down their email notifications, their phone notifications, right? We talk about people that are popping into their office all day, because they're afraid to close the door while they're working on projects, because they think they have to be available all the time. Right? We work on these things. We work on thinking about half finished projects, instead of putting them on the calendar and deciding to get them done. Like this is all superficial brain clutter that is taking up so much energy, like rather than thinking about, you know, having our brain, our brain focused on notifications while we're trying to talk to a client or while we're on a phone call or while we're answering another email, you know, rather than having our attention continually divided, right?
Splitting that energy over and over and over again, refocusing from one thing to another over and over and over again, we can make focused time for projects for clients. And not only are we going to feel energetically just better because we're fueled better, right? Cause every email notification, you get a little drain and I know you feel it in your body. It's like a little urgency, right? Oh, I got to look at that. I got to look at that right now, but rather than putting your attention, your energy into that notification, what if you took that energy and you used it to focus on listening to your client, to listening to your employee, to listening to what you need so that you can be focused so that you can grow your practice. Like, what if you decided that you were no longer going to settle for scraps, the scraps of energy that you have available, you started to just notice, like we're all these little energy vampires were in your life because it's not just the clutter, the physical clutter, it's not just the notifications and the people, right.
That you're letting into your office or letting you know, you're picking up the phone when you're in your focus time. Like, it's not just that, it's also everything else that you're thinking about in your brain. That's related to anything that is unproductive for your practice. And when I'm saying that, I mean, all the times you beat yourself up for not doing the right thing, saying the right thing all the times you say that you should be doing something, you should have done something in the past. I also want you to look at clutter as thinking about the past and believing that that means something about you right now. Okay. Let me say that again. I want you to think about this aspect of brain clutter. As when you think about the past, like a hearing, you did maybe a a brief that you wrote and you sent it off and it had typos and you judge yourself in this moment about, oh my gosh, I shouldn't have sent that brief off so quickly.
I'm a horrible lawyer. They're gonna think I'm ridiculous. They nobody's gonna, you know, think nice things about me with whatever it is that you're thinking about something in the past. That's also brain clutter. When we let that kind of crap into our brain, we are not focused on the next thing that's important in our practice. We are not focused on our future self, right. Because there's a big difference, right? Like we could look at a brief that we sent off with typos and we could say, oh my gosh, oh, I didn't realize there were typos in that. Well, you know, what I'm going to do is I'm just going to correct the typos and say, oh my apologies. Like I just realized that there were, there were some typos in that and I'm going to re send this off to court and counsel, and that's a lesson it's like, oh, you know what, next time I'm going to, I'm going to revise it.
I'm going to ask somebody to read it and just double-check everything for me. Or the other thing we could do is start beating ourselves up for sending out a brief with typos, right? Like that is a huge difference and a huge difference in the way we use our energy. One has a spinning and we cannot do anything impactful with that energy except to spin. And the other is one that creates productive energy. It's very like, oh, matter of fact, not a problem. I got this handled it's okay. Right. There are very different ways you can handle this kind of brain clutter. Let me give you another example. So one of the things like not just the past can be brain clutter, but I also want you to think about how you're thinking about something in the present can also be brain clutter. So an example of this would be, let's say you got a brief from opposing counsel and opposing counsel says some things that are, you know a little insulting to you.
Right? Cause they're, they're very personal in their brief. This happens all the time. It's really interesting, right? Like they are spending a lot of energy and misconstruing misinterpreting, and almost trying to influence the court to think negative things of counsel of, of you. Right. And that's how they're spending their energy. And oftentimes when one of us, like you're reading a brief like that, you want to kind of spin in all of that jerk. I can't believe he said that. And oh, I can't believe he has the nerve to blahblahblahblahblah. Right. And then you get your, your anger up, right? Like all that unproductive anger, just, you feel tense and you're upset, but that's not where productivity comes from. In fact that anger, that frustration, it's all clutter, right. Rather than looking at the data, the words, and just breaking them down, simply ignoring the personalized comments in the brief.
And just looking at the argument and focusing very clearly on that, looking at the data it's going to automatically calm us down. It's going to get us into a more productive state. And it's going to be energy well spent in looking at the analysis of the issues. Instead of looking at the personalization that opposing counsel may have made in the brief. And then we may take that very personally and infuse our brief with things that are not very nice to say lightly, right? If we're not paying attention. And if you've read a pellet briefs before you know, that judges are always paying attention to the tone of the attorneys and how they write. In fact, they comment on it and their opinions all the time. And they make cutting remarks about the attorneys when the attorneys are not behaving professionally. And so you don't have to do anything.
The judges can see right through those briefs. Okay. And if you're not writing briefs in court, you deal with this all the time. When you're on the phone with someone, right. Somebody says something rather than reacting to whatever it is that they're saying. You just notice like, okay, how am I reacting? Like internally, am I angry at what they're saying? Am I preoccupied with what I'm going to say next? Instead of just listening to what the person has to say, cause anytime we're preoccupied with what we're going to say next, before that person has finished, we're engaging in brain clutter. We have our brain otherwise engaged in an unproductive task that is not allowing us to be in the moment and listen to the concerns of our client, have a co opposing counsel of our employee. Like we're not really paying attention. That is some of the impact that brain clutter can have on our practice and our life.
I mean, you can extend this to your partner, right? You're living at home with someone you're preoccupied on your phone, you know, looking at email brain clutter, right there. If you want otherwise engaged in something that is unproductive. That, and it's not just unproductive, like you're not getting anything done, right? Like you could be productive on your phone answering an email, but it may be unproductive for the larger picture that you have for your life. The one where you have a loving partner who you spend time with, like, I want you to just look around at your life and start over seeing if you're letting these brain clutter things accumulate in your life. Like where are you seeing brain clutter show up? It could be the email notifications. It could also be the way that you're thinking about the past. When you're trying to get work done in the present.
When you're thinking about all the things you did wrong in the past, you're not in the present, getting things done towards your goal. When you're beating yourself up, you are not in the present, getting things done. You're engaged in brain clutter. Hey, okay. This is something that happens to all of us. So I don't want you to think that there's anything wrong with you, cause there's not. But I want you to see this because if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, if you're feeling stressed out, if you have any of these feelings or anything else like frustration or disappointment what's happening is you're engaging in the brain clutter. You're not engaging in the data and you're not looking at things objectively in a way that is the most effective. And when we are giving away our energy, we, we are going to just, we're going to feel thin.
That's the best way I have to describe it is we're going to feel thin. We're going to feel diffused. We're not going to feel solid and grounded, and we're not going to have the energy to engage with our lives. The way that we want to. We're not going to be able to have those connected conversations. When we've spent all of our mind stuck in brain clutter all day at the office. I want you to start looking for like, I want you to picture your brain like a home. I want you to really think about and look around you. Like, do you like what you see? Do you like how you feel? Because if you don't like how you feel, there's definitely some brain clutter that you're engaging in. Hey. And then when you start having some attention on that brain clutter, you can start cleaning it up just a little bit at a time, right?
Start with your notifications. Start with noticing when you are reacting on a phone call or when you're writing a brief and you start getting hangry, right. Start to notice when you're not looking at the data. And instead you're looking up at kind of like these, these vague ideas, vague fears, instead of looking just at the straight up data, which is going to get you really grounded in reality, ask yourself where your attention is going, where is your energy going? And is that where you want your attention, your energy to go. And that's the very first step. And you can choose to do any of this or not. It's up to you. And I'm going to tell you when you start doing this, yeah, I'm just taking a baby step here and there. You're going to notice a huge difference. Like I, I'm not perfect at this.
And I notice a huge difference. Every time I take a step, right? Like this morning I was in the garage. I was working out and I saw, oh, you know what? I was up early, early this morning. And I'm like, you know what? I got 30, 30 minutes. I'm going to go organize my my garden area and in my garage. And I'm like, I don't need any of this stuff. I've been holding onto this forever. And I just got rid of like, just like a couple of boxes of things. And it felt amazing. But like, you don't need to just like purge your life in one day, it's a process. And it's deciding step-by-step every time you see something in your life that doesn't feel good, right? That's energetically draining to decide to change it. So that's, that's the decision. My friend, do you want to change it? Because the brain clutter is not going to serve you.
That was a fun one. I mean, it's something that we all have worked with through have, and it's, it's it's very easy to get into self judgment about this, to think that you're not doing enough, that you should be doing better. So please don't take this podcast and use the coaching against yourself. Just use it as a tool to gain awareness that there are some things that could give you more energy. I mean, how amazing is that, that you can actually increase your energy, decrease the exhaustion simply by eliminating a little bit of the brain clutter here and there think that is a pretty amazing tool. So I do hope that you use it. All right, my friend, I hope you have a wonderful week and I will talk to you soon. Bye. Hey, if you are loving this podcast and you want to take the work deeper, I want to invite you to a strategy session with me during our time together.
We're going to talk about where you might have some brain clutter, where there might be some things that are preventing you from having the energy that you want from being as organized as you want. It always comes down to our thoughts. I can always bring it straight into what's going on in your brain, but a lot of times we just need that awareness. And so you're going to get some of that awareness during our strategy session, and I will share with you how we can work together to make progress on the goals that you want to achieve. And it can also, if you don't know what those goals are, help you get clarity on them. So go to Dina, cataldo.com
Forward slash strategy
Session to set up a time that works for you. That's Dina, cataldo.com
Forward slash strategy session. Talk to you. [inaudible].