Is your brain so full you can’t think straight? Sometimes there’s so much going on in my head that I can’t get anything done. Here are my five go-to tips for clearing out the excess: 5 ways to declutter your mind.
1. Meditate to clear your mind
This is my top tool whenever I’m agitated, feeling scattered or wound up. I used to fall asleep when meditating. But about a year ago, I found a great, free guided meditation that I now use regularly. I discuss it more in my article about my morning routine, or you can go straight to the source, here: https://blog.mindvalley.com/6-phase-meditation-infographic/.
Other techniques I know people love, but that I haven’t used myself, are the Headspace app, Calm and 10% Happier. I like what the 6-phase meditation because I feel like without the voice guiding me while I visualize, I’m just floating around aimlessly. Which is relaxing, but I’d rather relax and re-focus on my priorities.
2. Journaling for a focused mind
I love writing for clarifying my thoughts. In fact, I often get more precise on my own position by writing these blog posts. So, thanks for reading!
But I also use journaling, especially morning pages, just to clear out my head. If you haven’t heard of morning pages before, it’s basically a brain dump. You just write without worrying about grammar, punctuation or any of that. No judgments, just what comes to mind. Get it all out of your head and onto paper.
3. Time blocking to keep your head clear
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: humans are terrible at multitasking. It’s been proven through research that our brains do not function well that way. Therefore, the solution is easy. Do one thing at a time and put all your focus into it.
First, clear your workspace of any distractions. Take other projects and put them out of sight. Turn off social media and email notifications, and put your phone on silent. Ask coworkers/family members not to disturb you.
Then, work on something for a set amount of time. I like Pomodoros, which are 25-minute blocks. Then take a 5-10 minute break before the next Pomodoro. It’s recommended that after 4 rounds, you have a more extended break.
4. Re-focus through exercise
For the past decade, I’ve had a series of very intense jobs that required a lot of critical thinking. I discovered that the only way I could keep up was by taking a walk during all my breaks. I preferred going outside in fresh air, but on days that wasn’t possible, I would go up and down stairs or pace the hallways. It worked miracles for my brain.
5. Alternate activities
Sometimes I work on something too much, and it takes over my brain to the exclusion of all other ideas. I catch myself thinking about it when I should be concentrating on other things. Do you ever get like that? Sometimes, there’s such a thing as being too focused, and you need to step back so you can clear your head.
To split up my day and ensure I don’t experience fatigue from a particular task, I like to mix it up. I’ll start off with some reading-related work, then do some writing. Then I’ll wash dishes, or take a walk. And so on.
I know this is harder to accomplish if you have a job that requires you to do the same thing all day long. That’s where the breaks can come in—taking a walk instead of sitting during your breaks when you're already sitting for your desk job.
But just remember, when you are working on tasks on your personal time, that you can choose how they are prioritized. You may find you can get more accomplished by switching off rather than working on one thing until it’s done.
The benefits of decluttering your mind
An uncluttered mind has reduced stress and is better at getting things done.
It’s also an excellent place to start when you want to declutter your home, which is a topic we’ll go into more in upcoming posts.