We are bombarded with tips and hacks on how to de-clutter our closet and how to keep our desks organized and clutter-free. There is plenty of help out there for getting a handle on physical clutter. But what about mental clutter? You know, the numerous thoughts and expectations that we have swirling in our heads. The responsibilities, nagging thoughts of unfinished tasks, or the anxiety and pressure of everyday life. How do we deal with all that clutter?
Most of us enjoy a nice, neat and tidy living space, and maybe even a well-organized desk at the office. However, this may not always be that easy to achieve. These same goals can be applied to our brains and our thoughts. Is your brain as neat and tidy as your living space or your desk? For many of us, this is not the case. According to the Simple Not Stressful website, mental clutter is anything that makes our minds feel like they are on overdrive. From information overload to unfinished tasks that are hanging over our heads, to unmet expectations. Just like a cluttered desk can make working on a project much more challenging, a cluttered mind can do the same. The mental clutter weighs us down and can keep us from performing at our best.
Just like many of us struggle to organize our desks or clean our living spaces, dealing with mental clutter can be a significant challenge.
The first step in de-cluttering your mind is to identify clutter. You can’t decide what to keep or get rid of if you don’t know what you have. Begin by taking an inventory of your thoughts. You may think you have a handle on what you think about throughout the day, but chances are, there’s some clutter lying around that you have not noticed. Just like that old belt and scarf you forgot you had until you decided to organize your closet.
The best way to identify what you have going on in your mind is to write it down. Use a notebook, a journal, a note-taking app, or whatever works for you and start writing. Set aside 10 minutes and dedicate that time to expelling the clutter from your mind into writing. Jot it all down. For example, the stress of the minute tasks you must do, the performance anxiety regarding your upcoming sales pitch, whether you have enough saved for retirement, what color to paint the bathroom, dealing with the kids’ homework, etc. Write it down and don’t judge it. If it is taking up space in your head, write it down.
After you have taken inventory of your thoughts, the next step is to organize them. Analyze what you wrote down and group them into categories such as, for example, Quick Tasks to Complete, Big Decisions to Make, Things I Need Help With, etc.
Categorizing your thoughts will assist you in identifying what is truly important and what thoughts you can get rid of. Sometimes, we may hold on to thoughts that no longer serve us. Once you see it written down, you may realize that it no longer benefits you and therefore, you can remove the thought and reduce some mental clutter.
You may also find that you have some bigger things weighing you down and by identifying these items, you can set aside the appropriate time and place to work on them. By reserving a specific time and
place to address these items, you no longer need to think about them until the time you have set aside. Therefore, you are not neglecting them or avoiding them. This helps clear some of the mental clutter. Further, the categorization of thoughts also helps you create an actionable to-do list which can provide you with a clear path to accomplishment.
For more information, consider contacting a coach through One Health!