Decluttering your mind and becoming organized starts with one important but easily-overlooked step. You need to declutter your mental state.
If your home and office are cluttered and disorganized, chances are your mind is too.
Mental clutter is restless, moving from brooding over the past to worrying about the future.
It’s going through your mental to-do list and fretting over having too much to do. Above all, mental clutter is exhausting and fruitless. It stops you from getting things done.
Here are some top tips for getting back in control and decluttering your mind.
Declutter your environment
Clutter is chaos, your mind will be in overdrive all the time when you are surrounded by chaos. When you tidy up your space, things stop being overwhelming and you will be able to see, if in fact, anything needs doing.
I mean, seriously — do YOU own stuff – or does your stuff own you?
If your room feels cluttered, it might be time to take a good hard look – not at your stuff – but your habits.
You can’t clean clutter, but you can dispose of it.
But, rather than go on a massive decluttering spree that takes all weekend, you instead need to focus on creating a new mindset entirely.
One where decluttering becomes a fun, and even easy, life habit.
Where do you begin?
- Make rules about new stuff – specifically if you bring one new thing into the house, to get rid of something else. That keeps you from keeping around a broken object once you buy a replacement. But it also helps out your closet. What if every article of clothing that you buy means another one has to go? Here’s your chance to finally get rid of those old jeans that were never going to fit again anyway – or if they are, are so out of fashion you wouldn’t want to wear them out in public. (Goodbye leisure suits and Madonna lace socks!)
- Declutter 15 minutes every day. It doesn’t take long to make an impact, and 15 minutes is just enough time to sort through a drawer or glance over a bookshelf or two. In a week, you’ll have made a significant change to your environment without even noticing that you’ve done it. By doing it at a set time (before bed, before work, after lunch…whatever works) you’ll also have built-in a habit in no time at all that will serve to keep your environment under control.
- Put that back! (Keep your shit picked up!) When you’re done using something, then take a moment to put it away. Don’t leave that decorative paper out after wrapping a gift! If you’ve used the scissors, you know where they go! By getting in the habit of cleaning up after yourself, you guarantee that you’ll never have that lost feeling again when you can’t find what you’re looking for.
- Keep your hands busy. Before leaving a room, take a quick look around. Is there something there that doesn’t belong, that maybe needs to go to a different room altogether? By grabbing one item every time you leave a room, you begin a slow migration of things back where they belong.
- Tidy up immediately after meals. By taking a moment to clean the kitchen before grabbing the remote and some time on the couch, you’ll find that you don’t dread your kitchen the next morning anymore. Even better, you’ll find you save a lot of time on your morning routine if you do. Feel free to assign this crap to someone else in the house. YOU don’t have to do everything.
Decluttering doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By creating a lot of small (not to mention easy) habits, you’ll keep your space under control, and be able to enjoy the rest of your day better.
Use meditation techniques
You don’t have to do the full sitting on a cushion in a darkened room thing to benefit from meditation techniques. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, some simple breathing techniques can help you calm down and focus. For a few minutes, focus only on your breathing and nothing else. If your mind wanders or gets back into the worrying groove, you must put that aside and come back to focus on your breath. Try it now.
Close your eyes.
Breathe very slowly in through your nose until you can’t breathe in anymore.
Very slowly, let out all of the breath you took in through your mouth.
Think ONLY about taking in the breath and letting that breath out.
Repeat 5 times.
You’ll find you feel calm, peaceful, and no longer overwhelmed. Do this throughout the day. You are never too busy to reset.
Write it down and put it away
Get all those worries and what-ifs out of your head by writing them down. Often things look a lot less worrisome when they’re on paper. In fact, studies have shown that writing problems down helps the brain to process and find solutions.
It can also help to write down anything that’s on your mind. Call this your “brain dump”. This particular brain dump isn’t for coming back to later to try and fix things. The idea for this journal is to write out your anxieties and then, put them away. Writing down the things that are worrying us allows us to give those worries to the journal. We aren’t keeping them bottled up inside our minds and letting them overwhelm our daily lives.
Leave the past behind and stay focused on the present
A lot of mental clutter is caused by brooding over past events, whether it’s past hurts or things you wish you had said or done, opportunities you wish you had taken or actions you regret. All of these preoccupations take up space and energy in your mind that could be available for much more creative projects. Worst of all, mulling over the past is fruitless. You can’t change the past, but you can let go of things that are distracting you in your present life.
Brooding over the past and worrying about the future take up a lot of space in your mind and achieve precisely nothing. Let go of regret over past mistakes or resentment of past slights and move on. Keep your focus on what you can influence right here, right now.
Focus on one thing at a time
Lets’ face it, multitasking is overrated. Multitasking is not only overrated (it’s a bullshit illusion), it also leads to greater anxiety, and you never really get anything done.
Focus on doing things methodically and thoroughly. As you finish one task, move onto the next.
Trying to answer an email, take a phone call, and do your monthly budget all at once is likely to leave you with lots of things half-done and feeling exhausted.
You’re much more likely to make mistakes and become overwhelmed. Focus on doing one thing at a time, and you will be calmer and have a completed to-do list of tasks completed properly.
Control all the incoming data
We talk about being available 24/7 and the 24-hour news cycle, but there is only one person who can control that.
YOU control when you switch off your computer, smartphone, and social media. YOU control when you work with your clients. YOU control the amount of data your brain is trying to process.
Get yourself on a schedule. Put yourself in control.
Decluttering your mind will pay off in all sorts of ways you hadn’t imagined. You will be more productive, less stressed, and more motivated.
Lisa Bonner is THE #1 business mental health coach and creator of the #GetBlissiplined, #BeBlissiplined movement. Lisa has more than 20 years actively teaching executive women and business owners how to worry less, sleep better, and focus on the things they can control. With Lisa’s cognitive behavior therapies, her clients are able to break through their anxiety triggers – for good. Through her casual, no-nonsense approach to mental health coaching, Lisa teaches them how to live & work a life of perpetual positive success. Lisa’s blissipline is found in cheesecake, cookies, her rescue dog, and everyday acts of kindness.