Clutter doesn’t start at the store, or at sites where you can find free stuff, or in your Grandpa’s house. Clutter starts in your brain. It starts with your thoughts, beliefs, memories, fears, hopes, and dreams.
There are things you can do to start changing your thoughts so you can change the way you live—see here and here for more about that. But there’s also lots of mental clutter that can tire you out and overwhelm you. Getting rid of some of that mental clutter can really help! Here are some things to do:
Unclutter Your Brain: Write it Down, Cross it Off
I’ll be you already do this. After, lists are great, aren’t they? But lists can work against you in two ways: they can make you feel overwhelmed, and they can make you feel like you’ve accomplished something by writing things down when all you’ve done is write stuff down.
To make list-writing work for you, keep it simple. Write down one easy thing you will do, and one important thing you will do. Get the easy thing done and then cross it off. Work on the important thing until it’s done, or until you have completed a part of it, and then cross it off. If you still have that important thing to finish, when you make your list for tomorrow write down an easy thing again, and write down a part of the important thing so you can keep working towards that goal in manageable steps.
Writing things down, getting them done, and crossing them off is a great way to unclutter your brain.
Unclutter Your Brain: Let it Go
Thinking about the past can become a very time consuming and brain cluttering habit. If you find yourself always beating yourself up for mistakes you’ve made, try reframing them with this phrase “I did the best I could with the information I had”.
You can also work on stopping the cycle of remembering painful events by paying attention to what you’re thinking, stopping yourself when it’s not positive, and replacing that memory with a true and helpful thought. I highly recommend using the phrase “I love myself” as your helpful thought. It works!! (Note: You really have to choose that you don’t want to think about painful memories anymore for this to work. It’s important to start with this choice before trying to stop those memories.)
Unclutter Your Brain: Follow the Flamingo
I read this tip on a message board and was given permission to use it. It is my FAVORITE tip!!!
It can be hard to stay on task when you’re decluttering your home or working on that one thing on your list. Get yourself a bright inflatable flamingo, or something else bright and unusual. Place it where you are working. If you happen to get distracted or end up in another room, all you have to do is go back to your flamingo to get back on task. Brilliant!
Unclutter Your Brain: Do One Thing
Unnecessary multitasking is cluttering our brains!! Unless you’re a parent with a toddler or an ER nurse, you probably don’t need to multitask. This is good news because trying to multitask is not actually that efficient.
It’s kind of like ‘follow the flamingo’ for your brain. Just keep to one thing instead of trying to do a bunch of things at once. Just clean the bathroom mirror. Or take the newspaper to recycling. Or hug your toddler. Do one thing.
Unclutter Your Brain: Take Time for One Thought
This is a really helpful way to slow everything down and give your brain a break: taking time for just one thought. Get yourself some peaceful music, a quiet timer, and some headphones. Place yourself somewhere comfortable where you won’t be disturbed (honestly, the bathroom may be your best choice!).
Start playing the music and set the timer for ten minutes. Close your eyes, picture warmth (or cool air if you’re always hot) gently falling from the top of your head down over your body. Repeat one personal and meaningful phrase (again, “I love myself” is really good) over and over. If your mind strays, just refocus on the sensation flowing over your body and your one phrase. Don’t force perfection, just keep practicing your phrase.
Taking this ten minutes can change your life. Our minds are often so busy and doing this little thing can give our minds ten minutes of much-needed peace and rest. Give it a try!
What else works to unclutter your mind? Please share in the comments. We will all appreciate them!