Mental clutter refers to times when our mind has too many thoughts which makes it difficult to process and focus. A cluttered mind is disrupting and it hinders our productivity, balance and even our mental health. You know the feeling: you're forgetting important dates, you feel as if you're being pulled in a hundred different directions, and you're unable to finish a project or task from beginning to end.
In our increasingly busy and connected world, this tiresome brain fog is becoming far more common. Fortunately, with some small modifications to our routine and habits we can declutter our minds and avoid unnecessary brain drain. So, if you are feeling weighed down by constant mind-chatter and clutter, try these 6 simple tips to help regain your focus:
1. Keep a journal
Journaling is a great way to empty your mind and to organise your thoughts. According to research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, expressive writing minimises intrusive thoughts about negative events and improves working memory. In turn, this frees up your mind and even allows you to manage anxiety and stress better. Keeping a journal is a great process to help you manage mind clutter and gives you a space to analyse and clarify your thoughts.
2. Let go of things you can’t control
For many people mind clutter comes from holding onto the past, or fixating on things that are beyond their control. Whether it’s obsessing over mistakes you’ve made in the past, or getting weighed down by what others think of you, it’s important to learn how to let go of the things you cannot change. Not only will this benefit your mental health and allow you to be more present, it will also eliminate unnecessary thoughts and fears.
3. Limit your notifications
We are more connected than ever before. While this does lead to some benefits for our work and social lives, most of the time the constant notifications we receive from social media, messaging apps, emails and more can be a drain on our brain. A study from researchers at Florida State University suggest that merely receiving a push notification is as distracting as stopping to respond to a text message or receive a phone call. By limiting the amount of notifications you receive on your desktop and mobile phone, you will enjoy better concentration and fewer distractions that can clutter your mind.
Meditation is a powerful way to clear your mind and boost your attention span. A study published in Cognitive, Affective & Behavioural Neuroscience which looked at the effects of an eight-week mindfulness meditation course, found that mindful meditation improved participants' ability to reorient and maintain their attention. By prioritising meditation in your daily routine you enable yourself to declutter your mind and retain focus every day.
5. Keep a list
Sometimes, it can feel like we have endless tasks to complete on a daily basis. Avoid overwhelm by keeping a list of your daily tasks and prioritise them according to timeliness and importance. While there are a number of online tools that you can use to make your daily list, one of the most effective ways is a simply jotting it down with a pen and paper. As research suggests that our brains process abstract information more effectively when we read it on paper. So grab a pen and pad and write down the most important task of the day and map out how you will fit these around meetings, calls and lunchbreaks.
6. Embrace a routine
A daily routine ensure that you are able to start the day off right and creates an overall sense of stability in your life. It enables you to maintain efficiency and instils good habits, such as healthy decision making, exercising and getting enough sleep, which in turn reduces the level of mental clutter.
Any type of mental clutter can slow you down and harm your mental health. By clearing your mind and decluttering, you can welcome productivity, focus and most importantly, calmness into your daily life.
What are some ways you calm your mind? Tell us in the comments below.
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