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.
Time to clean out some space in your head. You can get started by following these 10 ways to declutter your mind and free up mental space. I mean, there’s only so much room in our heads, you know?
Check out 1-5 here.
6. Limit the Amount of Information Coming In. Too much info can clog up the brain. This includes the information that you take in each day by reading newspapers/blogs/magazines, watching TV, participating in social media, surfing on your phone.
Create some space in your brain through the following ideas:
- 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 (with the exception of Cool Mona) 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.
7. Be Decisive. If your in-box is filled with documents but you fail to make decisions on what to do with each one, what will happen? Soon your in-box will be overflowing with letters, bills, requests from prospective clients, etc. The way to clear your in-box is by making a decision about what to do with each piece of paper that’s in there.
The same thing applies to your brain. If you put off making decisions, your brain will soon be overflowing with all of the decisions that you need to make. The solution is to be decisive.
For simple decisions, follow an approach such as the one recommended by Benjamin Franklin: create a pros-and-cons list. When you need to make more important and complex decisions, apply a more thorough approach, such as the WRAP Method recommended by the Heath brothers in their book, “Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work”.
8. Put Routine Decisions on Auto-Pilot. Small, routine tasks can occupy a lot of brain space. This can include things such as the following:
- Deciding what to have for breakfast each morning
- Deciding what you’re going to wear each day
- Making a decision on what to eat for lunch
You can reduce the amount of brain space that’s taken up by these routine tasks by putting them on auto-pilot. I love the sit-com called “The Big Bang Theory” in which the 4 main characters are highly intelligent scientists. One of them, Sheldon Cooper, loves routines and has one for just about everything.
- He has a specific pair of underwear and a specific t-shirt that he wears for each day of the week.
- The food that Sheldon eats for breakfast and for dinner follows a routine (for example, every Tuesday night he eats with his friends at The Cheesecake Factory).
- He does the laundry every Saturday night at 8:15 p.m.
Of course, Sheldon takes things a bit overboard but you get the picture. Get as many small, routine tasks as you can out of your head by setting them on automatic. (I have a friend who only eats baked chicken and broccoli for dinner Monday – Friday. I thought he was weird at first, but now, maybe not so much.)
9. Prioritize. Nothing creates as much brain clutter as an endless to-do list. (You should see mine.)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.
10. 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. (I also think it contributes to depression.)
So do it with me! Here’s to de-cluttering. Right after I finish my watered-down noon margarita.