According to scientific research back in 2005, we have about 50,000 thoughts per day (more recent estimates are 70,000), which in short, boils down 1 thought every few seconds. Further, 80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% of these thoughts we’ve had the day before. These thoughts have quite a toll on our physiology and physical health, weakening our systems and creating many of those illnesses we experience as a result of stress and other negative/cluttered thinking patterns. By the end of the day, we’re drained of our energy or worse, find ourselves feeling ill.
If we can learn to control our thought patterns and declutter our mind, we can be happier, more focused and positive as a result. It’s simple really, by becoming mindful of our thoughts and mind clutter, we can become intentional in how we choose to spend our time and energy, and where we focus our attention.
Here are 6 easy and quick ways you can take to declutter your mind, now.
Journal or make a list and prioritize
Journaling has been proven to help reduce stress, improve memory, and lessen the feelings of anxiousness. By writing out your thoughts, feelings, and goals into a journal daily you are allowing your mind to rid itself of hanging onto these thoughts day after day. A bigger payoff is the sense of clarity and assuredness that can come as a result of daily journaling. It has a wonderful way of opening our eyes to new perspectives or even confirming our inner truths.
If journaling isn’t your ‘thing’, just jot things down on paper. Even by jotting down a ‘to-do’ list, a ‘weekly goals’ list, or a ‘don’t forget’ list in a notebook or on a piece of scrap paper has the same positive effects on reducing mind clutter. As a result, you’ll have less things piling up in your mind day after day, with a significantly less chance of forgetting important things. Talk about win-win.
Exercise has so many hidden benefits that it’s no wonder it’s recommended to get in at least 20 minutes of exercise daily. Ever feel more creative and inspired after a satisfying workout? Have you ever been able to more easily solve a problem or gain clarity on a situation during a workout? It is true that exercise leads to better problem solving skills, gives us the clarity we need in our mind, puts us in noticeably better moods, and allows us to work more effectively and efficiently throughout our days.
Find whatever type of exercise works for you; do what brings you joy and is fun for you and do it every chance you get. This can be any type of physical movement; working out doesn’t have to be boring ‘work’.
Zone out or meditate
Zoning out is not the same as removing yourself from reality and withering away in front of a TV. To zone out properly, we need to remove ourselves from anything that requires our minds to download or process any new information. Instead of reading or watching tv, try sitting in nature – or even on your front porch. Watch the wind in the tree leaves, hear the natural sounds of your surroundings and breathe in the fresh air. This type of zoning out can do wonders in helping your mind free itself from those never-ending thoughts.
For those who want a more ‘focused’ zoning out, meditation is a great way to empty your mind. There are several different ways to meditate and none is better than the other when it comes to mind decluttering. Simply choose to sit however you are most relaxed and comfortable and select something to focus on, whether it be your breath, an object, a mantra, etc and breathe deeply as you focus on your item of choice. By making meditation a part of your daily practice, even for 5 minutes, can help alter the state of your mind. Over time and with much practice, you’ll be able to go into your meditative trance whenever you start to feel your mind begin to clutter, with ease at anytime or in any place.
Multitasking isn’t helping keep a clear, focused mind. In fact, multitasking is not only impossible, but it can contribute further to the stressed out or overwhelmed feelings that we have. This in turn, continues to feed negative thoughts and repetitive thoughts into our minds that are otherwise unnecessary to begin with. Although negative thinking can sometimes fuel productivity and spark action if used properly, negativity in this way is unproductive because we’re just trying to keep up with ourselves and pushing our minds into overdrive.
To clean up your mind is very similar to how we clean up our physical spaces. We typically select one starting point (a room perhaps) and clean and declutter this room fully before moving onto the next. For our minds, it helps to pick one task to focus on, set a duration, and do nothing else but that task for that time. It’s amazing how productive and efficient this method of single-tasking is.
Speaking of cleaning up your physical space…
Clean up your physical space
Many books and advocates will tell you that having a physically cluttered space is a definite way to give yourself a cluttered mind. When we can see physical disarray our minds translate this into more things we have to do, so we spend more energy producing these thoughts and adding to our negative clutter in our minds until the physical space is clean.
Tackle your physical spaces, even the ones you don’t actually see or don’t see on an every-day basis, but know are there (think closets, garages, sheds). Use whatever method works for you; you can tackle one room at a time or use the Marie Kondo method and tackle by category. Tidy up your paperwork, your desk space at work, your linen closet and every other nook and cranny of your living and work spaces. Everything should have a place in your space and if it no longer serves a purpose, remove it for good.
Be decisive and put routine decisions on auto-pilot
There’s no better way to clear our minds than by ridding them of an unnecessary thoughts or stressors. If there is something on your mind that you can easily remove by making a decision, please do so. There is absolutely no need to mull things over day after day, hour after hour, piling and piling the clutter in your mind. Any opportunity you have to clean up those lingering ‘to-do’s’, you need to jump all over.
If decision-making is not your forte, refer to this helpful guide on how to make decisions less difficult. The key is to make a choice and know that you can always make another one. In order to declutter your mind, you have to start somewhere and once you start to make a decision on one thing, they all get a little easier from there.
We as humans are inundated with decisions that need to be made, on a daily basis. Many of these decisions we can turn on ‘autopilot’ so that we need not think twice about them, freeing them from our minds. To put these more routine decisions on ‘autopilot’ means to simply remove any other choices from being an option. You can do this by eating the same lunch every weekday, wearing the same outfit on specific days of the week, workout at the same time every day, have a morning routine, only watch TV on Wednesday nights, do your laundry every Sunday morning at 8:00 AM, and so on. Without going overboard on ‘autopiloting” everything in your life, you can tackle a large part of your mind’s clutter.
Our minds are a powerful force. They have the ability to shape much of how we act, how we feel, and how we live our lives. It’s important that we take the time to take care of our minds so we can better take care of ourselves in turn. By taking some of the steps outlined to clear our minds, we will live our days more intentionally and focus our attention and energy on things that will better serve us.