One of the main reasons why we are not as productive as we could be is mental clutter. This can take several forms. It might be endless to-do lists. Or it might be residual issues from the past that keep cropping up and preventing us from living a full and abundant life full of positive things.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to sort out the mental clutter and have a more open and expansive mind that will free you to pursue your goals and dreams. Here are ten easy ones you can apply every day.
1. Write things down
"The dullest pencil is better than the sharpest mind." In the stress of everyday life, it’s easy to forget things. Keep a calendar, paper address and phone book, and a paper to-do list. Digital tools are great, but they can break or run out of power.
2. Take short breaks
The human attention span is short and we can get frustrated and stressed at a lot of data and sensory input. Working for 25 minutes and taking a break for 5, with at least 30 minutes for lunch, can keep you fresh and alert throughout the day.
Meditation is a great way to watch your own mind and free it of some of its more habitual and often negative patterns. If you hear a lot of negative mind chatter about yourself - such as your weight, abilities and so on, chances are these thoughts stem from the past. Getting to the root of them can help eliminate them. So too can just observing them without engaging with them.
If you are meditating and suddenly recall a terrible fight with your mother when you were ten, just observe. Don’t engage with it. Then think about what you learned from it. Note the lessons and let it go. Make a conscious decision to move on more confidently in the future without carrying that clutter around.
When you observe these negative thoughts, you can also reframe them. For example, the argument was bad but you learned from it. You were careless and did break the vase, but you worked hard to pay her back for it. Or you were tempted to tell her your brother was the one who did it, but you didn’t want to get him into trouble so you took the blame yourself even though you didn’t have to.
5. Practice sleep hygiene
Be sure to get eight hours of sleep per night. None of us are ever at our best without a good night’s sleep. Struggling with a problem? Sleep on it! Try writing it down in a journal before bed and write down your thoughts the next morning as soon as you wake up. You will be amazed at how perceptive you will become with practice.
6. Try walking meditation
When you take your breaks, get up and walk around. At lunchtime, head outside into the fresh air. It will "clear your head", as the phrase goes, and refresh you.
7. Practice mindfulness
This is commonly referred to as living in the moment. Take a moment to observe everything using your senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. It is like a mini-vacation that frees your mind from stressing over your to-do list.
8. Watch less TV
A little TV can be relaxing, but too much is a distraction, and can even be an addiction.
9. Tidy your work space
A more organized workspace will help you be more productive and you will also be able to lay your hands-on important things a lot faster.
10. Don’t try to multitask
There is no such thing. The mind just clicks back and forth between the tasks, making it take longer to get them done.
Use these ten tips to declutter your mind and see what a difference it can make.