Life has a way of throwing everything at you all at once. One minute you’re enjoying life without a care in the world, the next you’re trying your best to stay afloat in a world full of worry and stress. All of this clutter bouncing around in your head can lead to all sorts of problems. It takes you away from the task at hand, making it difficult to concentrate. You may become upset over events in the past that have no bearing over the present (or future). Due to this and other reasons, the clutter in your mind is not healthy and needs to be dealt with. Problem is, you can’t just shut your brain off or tell it to organize your thoughts in order of importance. Or can you? Researching online is a great way to find strategies to declutter your mind.
Here are seven excellent ways to declutter your mind for optimal success.
Write It All Down
Sometimes seeing your thoughts on paper can be beneficial. You don’t need a creative writing degree to let your mind unleash your inner thoughts. With your brain running a million miles an hour, writing everything down in front of you so you can physically see it surprisingly helps declutter your mind.
For starters, putting your thoughts on paper helps you clearly conceptualize the thought. It also forces you to focus on one idea and then move onto the next one. However, don’t shut your brain off and move to the next thought if your brain has more to write. Just let it go. Write down anything and everything. You may be surprised as to just how much comes out.
On a similar note, have you ever had a thought that made complete sense to you, but once you said it out loud you realized just how silly it is? The same is true when writing it all down. You may see one issue that has been plaguing your brain, but written out you realize it isn’t a big deal. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with too many thoughts, turn to your trusty pen and paper, and write it out.
Exercise is great for not only the body but also the mind. Taking a jog, hitting the elliptical or lifting weights have more benefits than burning calories. Exercise forces your heart to pump faster. This circulates more blood and, in turn, more oxygen to your body. Because of the increased blood and oxygen, your brain can focus more clearly. It allows you to departmentalize the thoughts in your head and filter out the unnecessary chatter.
If you have a lot going on and you just want an escape, lifting weights is great as it forces you to focus on what you’re doing. If, on the other hand, you need to remain on task, go for a jog or other extended cardio circuit. This way, you can still work through your thoughts.
Surprisingly, music can add to the noise in your head during a workout. Listening to your favorite music while working out can help with motivation and performance, but you essentially have another voice in your head, which may not help with your current thought process. If you do need some sort of music though, consider music without lyrics.
Take a Vacation
Okay, so this isn’t something you can do on a whim (typically). You can’t drop everything and just fly out to some beach somewhere and relax in the sun while cabana boys drop off bright red and blue cocktails. With that said, you do need to take time off annually. Europeans take more vacation time than their North American counterparts. They also tend to live longer, happier lives. When you stay connected to work without a break in sight (the weekend doesn’t really count), your brain will just continually rotate, fixed on work and what’s going on.
Thinking of staying at work without ever taking time off is like leaving your computer running without ever turning it off. Over time, the computer will begin to act a bit sluggish. It still processes everything and does its job, but from time to time it seemingly slows down. It may take longer for an application to load while updates continue to add up. However, when you turn the computer off and let the system restart, it is snappy and back to its normal performance speed. When a computer, without organic material, needs a refresh in order to work at its best well, you should take it as a sign you should as well.
Declutter Your Work Area
The area around your workspace plays a major role in the clutter within your head. A cluttered work environment can lead to a cluttered mind. Piles of paperwork and full trash cans and file cabinets left askew lead to additional levels of stress while making it difficult to concentrate on one task.
One of the best ways for you to declutter your mind and focus is to clear out your work area. Remove what is not necessary from your workspace and file away all paperwork. Clear off your desk as much material as possible. Now, put some plants in your work environment. Plants not only liven up your workspace but it boosts oxygen quality in the room. Don’t worry, you don’t need to go full rainforest; a plant or two will go a long way in setting your mind up for success.
Stop the Multitasking
Some forms of multitasking are good, like eating pizza and watching a sporting event on TV. However, other forms of multitasking are bad, such as trying to complete multiple work tasks at once. Multitasking at work is a quick way to get nothing done. With a half-dozen different tasks on hand, your brain will bounce from one to the other. You need to complete the one task, but there’s another you should start and then there’s another task that’s more interesting…. your thoughts will go on and on until everything is done. The problem here is it takes three times longer to complete three tasks because you’re not focused on one in particular.
Now is the time to stop multitasking. Focus on one given task and stay with it until it is done. Want to see some success early on? Perform a small task you’ve been thinking about so you can cross it off the list. Ideally, you should focus on the most important, pressing tasks and work your way down, but there are times where just having something crossed off keeps you motivated and productive.
By crossing off items one by one, your brain will declutter itself as it focuses on just that one task instead of all the tasks at once.
Take Time to Meditate
What meditation means to you may be different to someone else. You don’t need to become a Buddhist monk and chant in order to help center yourself. It doesn’t need to be a religious experience or even a quest for enlightenment (although we could all use a bit of enlightenment). Instead, it is a chance to center your thoughts and calm your mind.
Thankfully, there are a few different ways to go about doing this. YouTube, surprisingly enough, for all of its in-your-face content and bright, flashy thumbnails, is a great destination for “guided meditation” videos. When listening to one of these videos, you’ll want to plug in headphones and find a nice location where you can relax without being disturbed. Whether it is sitting in your office chair, lying on the floor or relaxing on a couch, these guided meditation videos will walk you through the process of focusing your mind. Now, you won’t actually watch the video. It is more about the audio, as your eyes will be closed during the time.
Sensory deprivation sessions can offer an excellent opportunity to be alone with your thoughts. These services are often available at local spas. During the session, you are placed into a coffin-like tank, filled partially with water. When closed, you won’t be able to hear, see, taste or smell anything. As you float in the water, you’ll have very little in way of your sense of touch as well. It is as close to complete sensory deprivation as you can possibly have. In this setting, you are ultimately forced to focus on your thoughts.
There are times where you need to be alone with your thoughts, but hopping into some tank isn’t always available. Perhaps you’ve come across the idea of “Zen in the art of tea making” or “Zen in the art of motorcycle repair.” You can find these kinds of books in the religious section of your local bookstore, although the topic isn’t specifically religious in nature. These topics also don’t mean you’re going to find enlightenment by changing out the muffler on your ‘92 Ford. Instead, it focuses on how performing a specific task can open your mind up and help you remove all the clutter. Because when you become an expert in a given task, your mind isn’t focused or dwelling on anything else. So, find personal time to meditate and separate yourself from others for at least a few minutes a day. You’ll find it goes a long way in decluttering your mind and giving you a fresh start.
Eliminate Your Stress
Now, you may not be able to cut out all of your stress. After all, work probably stresses you out from time to time, and if you have kids, you can’t really just fire them in order to eliminate stress. However, there are some forms of stress you can cut ties with.
Stop and think about what bothers you. What is stressing you out that you don’t need in your life? Is there a toxic relationship causing you more bad than good? Perhaps it’s time to walk away from it. Is money stressing you out? Focus on expenses you can live without. There are always stress-related issues running through our heads, causing us to lose focus on important tasks and instead think about these stressful issues. But…
Stress will always be in your life, but you don’t have to let it rule you. Now, meditating can help with these forms of stress. By taking time out to meditate, you may discover you really don’t need to worry about what you are, in fact, worrying about. Clearing your head through exercise and by cleaning your workspace may improve the way you look at certain tasks and more common stressors. The goal is to take proactive steps doing what you can to eliminate stress, cut out noise, and improve your quality of life. Which is why taking advantage of all seven of these mental declutter tactics is important. However, if you find you’re still worrying and stressing about certain issues, people and tasks, you need to move on and remove what you can. Doing so may be difficult at first, but soon after you’ll discover just how open your mind can be and how freeing it is to no longer focus on those toxic issues.
Your brain is what makes you unique. With it, you think differently from everyone else and have cultivated talents, ideas and motivation others simply do not have. However, sometimes your brain is in the way of greater things, simply because you’re thinking about too many ideas, tasks and people at once. When this is the case, it is time to declutter your mind in order to focus on what is necessary. By taking advantage of these seven tips and tricks, you’ll quickly reduce stress levels, cut down on mental blocks and discover new ways of focusing on what really is important, all of which will help drive you towards future success.