Clearing Mental Clutter for Success and Sanity

There’s nothing like having a clear mind and tranquil outlook on life in order to problem-solve, reach towards your professional goals, and complete the various tasks necessary to effectively manage your business. In a perfect world, we would all be free from the mental clutter that can significantly distract us, block creativity, and potentially sabotage our hard work and effort.

Mental clutter is the sort of thing that can transition in and out of our lives depending on our stress levels or other life factors that can largely be out of our control; however, we can develop the ability to organize the clutter and keep negative and self-defeating thoughts from affecting professional and work life.

The biggest detriment associated with mental clutter is that it will prevent you from remaining in the here and now. The thoughts and feelings that accompany mental clutter will often keep you saddened, stressed, angry, or otherwise replaying events that occurred in the past or worried and anxious about future events that may never even occur. The essence of mental clutter is that our minds are essentially everywhere but the present and when you don’t live in the present moment (at least the majority of the time) it can become difficult to manage a successful and productive professional life.

Tips for Starting the De-Cluttering Process 

If you begin to make a conscious effort to de-clutter your mind from the thoughts that can sometimes seem overwhelming, you risk focusing too much on the negative thoughts themselves. Instead, try these steps that will help you take the focus off the clutter and onto more positive and self-fulfilling thoughts and beliefs.

  • Accept the Thoughts: When trying to de-clutter maladaptive thoughts, common sense may tell you that you should stop the thoughts, argue with the thoughts, or deny the thoughts altogether. Instead of criticizing yourself for having the thoughts and trying to make them go away, try to accept the thoughts as your body’s response to stress and as a helpful signal that you need to focus on self-care. Clutter may exist for a reason, signaling you to take action, take a break, or take a breath. Practice accepting the thoughts (and thus accepting yourself for having the thoughts) and let the thoughts pass. No judgment; no self-criticism. Acknowledge the thought and allow it to go by without the need to and the reaction we often have to do something with the thought.
  • Staying in the Present: A great way to de-clutter the mind after you accept the thoughts you have and allow them to pass is to focus on remaining in the here and now. This exercise is far more useful and beneficial than focusing on the clutter itself because the more you remain in the here and now, the less time you will have to entertain the clutter. Remember that clutter only lives in the past and/or the future, not in the present.
  • “Where am I?”: It is often helpful to ask yourself where I’m I, where is my mind, in your quest to remain present as much and as often as possible. This allows you to center yourself and come to the present moment when your mind drifts into the clutter. Some people find it beneficial to engage the senses as a way of coming back to the here and now. Activities like listening to music (sound), taking a walk in nature (sight), doing manual activities like painting, crafts, cooking, etc. (touch), enjoying a meal slowly (taste), and breathing fresh air outdoors (smell) can quickly bring you to the present moment.

Read more here about our main brain functions, how having them work together will allow you to make better, smarter decisions.

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