Mental Decluttering

Just like decluttering your physical spaces, mental decluttering takes in account two forms: discarding & organizing.  In order to give fewer, better fucks, to get the most out of your limited time, energy and money, you really should consider discarding obligations, such as things, people, events & etc. that annoy you. This process will make more room for the things, events, people & etc. that you look forward to and most comfortable to be your truest self around; called MAKING A FUCK BUDGET.

Getting your shit together is organizing what you have left (in the form of time, energy & money) and deploying those resources wisely- not only on things you need to do, but on those extra bonus-level things you want to do. I am not saying to start making major changes, but become mindful of the process at hand. However, change does start with cleaning out your mind. This process of cleaning out your mind also goes hand in hand with whom you live with. If your roommate is a slob, their clutter becomes your clutter. You have to compromise your collectables and how full your closet and dresser drawers are. With mental decluttering, you don't have to sort through or "trip over anything" but you will start to get stressed and sick and tired of the bullshit that is laying around that you technically don't need.

The idea of needing or wanting to give a fuck about something is not the same as actually being able to do it. So get your shit together!! For example, you may give a fuck about taking a vacation and be willing to devote the time, energy and money towards it. BUT if you DON'T have your shit together, you many not have money to pay for it. You can clear your calendar of less appealing obligations all you want, but without funding it won't happen.

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With that all being said, here are some ways to declutter the shit out of your mind:

Make a List- Lists are like the Container Store for the mind—they help you compartmentalize your mental clutter in a thousand different ways. Sounds simple, yes, but adding a few lists to your life really works.  First, parking something on a to-do list frees up some valuable mental room, because once a nagging task is on your list, you don’t have to worry about remembering it anymore. With all your responsibilities organized in one place, you can strategically choose what to do next instead of flying by the seat of your pants. (Check out a few of my favorite tips for maximizing your to-do list .)

But, a to-do list alone can only get you so far (more on that later). To go a step further, make a priority list in addition to or based on your to-do list. This is a daily list of your top two or three priorities (it’s key to keep it limited to avoid creating just another general to-do list) to help ensure you’re making progress on stuff that matters. This is where you choose impact over what you might feel is urgent. When you actively identify something as a priority, you’ll be more likely to focus on it like a laser beam through the clutter instead of pushing it off to another day.

And finally (don’t worry, just one more!), create a done list to record everything you’ve accomplished during the day . Then, when you feel like you’re getting lost amidst the buzz, you can take a look at what you’ve done—which will give you a boost of motivation and renewed focus to keep achieving.

Automate Away- That being said, a word of caution: When your to-do list is cluttered with small, repetitive tasks, it’s easy to get caught up in whatever comes up first, rather than what’s actually the most important. To cut out some of those less-than-urgent responsibilities, try an automating service, like Zapier , which gives you the ability to delegate repetitive work tasks to a personal internet assistant.

For instance, as part of my job, I need to keep track of pitches and guest bloggers, so I set up a “zap” to automatically save specific kinds of emails to a separate Evernote notebook. That way, when I need to sort through potential posts, I don’t have to waste time rooting around in my inbox. Other popular “zaps” include automatically adding Eventbrite attendees to MailChimp and automatically scheduling social media posts through Buffer.

The beauty of this kind of automatic delegation is that you can simply set it and forget it—majorly cutting down on your to-do list. So instead of interrupting the flow of your workday with little tasks, you can concentrate on the high-impact stuff that requires your full focus and attention.

Embrace the Junk Drawer- The junk drawer is a home and office vice and necessity where you stuff crumpled up notes, maybe-dead batteries, and all sorts of odds and ends that don’t have a proper home.

Surprisingly, this strategy can also work for your mind: Instead of continually accumulating mental clutter, take a load off by creating a digital “junk drawer.” Start by dumping your thoughts onto an electronic page with a tool like Evernote. This allows you to shove all your brilliant ideas, notes, lists, and saved articles that don’t have another home into one digital place, which will help you clear out some valuable mental space—without adding papers and notebooks to your actual junk drawer. And don’t worry—with a quick shuffle through the “junk,” (i.e., a quick search), you’ll easily be able to find anything you need.

Manage Your Inbox- I’m no Inbox Zero wizard, but I know I get more done when I don’t have to cringe every time I open my email. Knowing your inbox isn’t overflowing can save you a lot of mental stress, which can help you focus on other, more important tasks. So, save yourself from slowly drowning subject line by subject line by doing some inbox spring cleaning.

First, unsubscribe from promotional emails (that you never actually open) and turn off those clogging notifications from LinkedIn and Facebook. Then, filter and funnel different types of nonessential email into specified sections of your inbox, so that you can have them on hand if you need them—but don’t have to see them every time you log in. I also like to use programs like Boomerang or Followup.cc to schedule emails and send reminders, so I can deal with emails on my own time.

Think About It- When you have a never-ending list of things to do, it often feels counterproductive to spend time reflecting—more thoughts will just add to the mental clutter, right? But, in my experience, charging ahead without taking time to reflect will just make the mess worse.

Turns out, regularly reviewing how you’ve been spending your time will give you insight into how you got to your present state, how to move forward strategically, and how you work best in general. So, start making time for quiet reflection or journaling . Think about (or write down) what’s stressing you out, why a particular project isn’t taking off, or when during the day you’re most productive. By unpacking and articulating your zooming thoughts, instead of feeling like one big exclamation ( argh! and blergh! are common ones for me), you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly what you need to do to move forward.

Remember, your state of mind is intertwined with the quality of your work and relaxation. So, ditch the disco ball attention span, take some deep breaths, and do some mental tidying. In the end, you’ll get back in touch with your true priorities.

Stretch the body, stretch the mind- Sometimes it seems like all I can do to calm down, to declutter, to make space, is to flow with breath and body through a sequence of yoga poses. Even your basis stretches of your quads, doing lunges or squats will help. After, lay down or sit comfortably in a chair and take a few minutes to meditation. Become mindful and present in the moment of your emotions, and bodily sensations you are feeling.

Listen to/sing your favorite song- When I am particularly overwhelmed by negative thought clutter, and it seems as though it will never end, I put on some music to relax and detach from those negative thoughts.

Get up and move- One of my favorite ways to instantly declutter is to dance or go to Zumba! I bust out one of my favorite dance moves, and even get the added bonus of the endorphins. I grew up with tapes, not CD’s, so can anyone say THE RUNNING MAN (or the ELECTRIC SLIDE)! If you’re at work and your colleagues might not approve of your sweet moves, you can try mindful walking.

4. Remember the good times- Go back to that time and place where you felt peace, light and love. It might be when you were little, with friends, or just the adventures you might have taken in the past by yourself. Bring yourself back to those sensations and surrender to sweet nostalgia.

5. Practice gratitude- One of the most effective ways to clear out mental clutter is to say thank you. You don’t necessarily have to have a god, or the universe, or anyone in particular in mind. Just a general “thank you” to express gratitude for everything you are or aren’t, and everything you have or don’t have. This is by no means easy, and I do NOT mean to placate you or undermine any difficulty you are experiencing. But there is actual literature in the field of positive psychology that expressing gratitude is a huge part of mental health, which includes stress reduction.

 

Hope this all helps ! Please post any comments with insights, advice, ideas and questions!!