Most of us have a mind-full of clutter. There’s something a lot worse than having a cluttered home or work space, and that’s having a cluttered mind. A cluttered mind is restless and unfocused. It tries to move in many different directions at once and the result is that very little gets done and you become stressed out.
Mental clutter can include all of the following: worrying about the future; ruminating about the past; keeping a mental to-do list; and so on. Fortunately, there are strategies and techniques you can use to clean out some space in your head.
Below you’ll find six ways to declutter your mind so you can stop feeling so overwhelmed, get more done, and gain more clarity.
1. Declutter Your Physical Environment.
Physical clutter leads to mental clutter. First of all, clutter bombards the mind with excessive stimuli, which forces the brain to work overtime. Secondly, physical clutter signals to the brain that there’s always something else that needs to be done, which is mentally exhausting.
2. Keep a Journal.
A journal allows you to download the inner chatter that’s constantly interrupting your thought process when you’re trying to get important things done.
For example, you can write in your journal about the following: things that you’re worried about; plans for achieving an important goal; concerns about a relationship that’s draining your energy; and so on.
3. Let Go of the Past.
Mind clutter is often related to the past. Most people keep a large cabinet of mental drawers stored in the back of their minds. These drawers are filled with mistakes they’ve made, opportunities they’ve missed, people they’ve hurt, past grievances, and so on.
Take the time to go through those mental drawers and discard memories of the past that are not serving you well and are just cluttering up your current life.
4. Limit the Amount of Information Coming In.
Too much information can clog up the brain. This includes the information that you take in each day by reading newspapers, blogs, and magazines; watching TV; participating in social media; surfing the web on your smart phone; and so on.
Limit the amount of information that comes into your life—and create space in your brain–by doing the following:
• Set a limit on the amount of time that you’re going to spend on social media sites or browsing the internet.
• Unsubscribe from any blogs and cancel any magazine subscriptions that are not contributing to your quality of life or your well-being.
• Make sure that the opinions that you pay attention to come from well-regarded individuals with relevant credentials.
• Decide what information is relevant to you and disregard everything else.
Nothing creates as much brain clutter as an endless to-do list. Accept that you can’t do it all, and choose to focus on the things which are most important to you. Make a short list of your top priorities, and make sure that the bulk of your brain space is devoted to the things on that list.
6. Learn to Meditate.
In essence, meditation is learning to focus the mind completely on the present moment. When you learn how to place all of your attention on one thing—such as your breath–, all other thoughts disappear. It’s almost the equivalent of taking your mind through a car wash, and having useless and unnecessary thoughts washed away.
Mental clutter leads to congestion in our inner world. It gets in the way of being able to think clearly, and to focus on what really matters.