I’ve just been going through my blog archives and found this post I wrote 3 years ago. Reposting it here as it’s still so relevant, so important, and so essential in our overloaded, plugged in 21st century world.
I’ve written about decluttering your physical space, but there’s somewhere else that you live, that tends to get cluttered. It’s your mind.
Because we can’t actually see the mind-junk, we all too easily allow a cacophony of unchecked noise and distraction to run riot in our heads.
So what are the best techniques to tackle the mental clutter?
1. Switch on your brain
We have thousands of thoughts racing through our minds each day, and we need to learn to reign these in. Mindfulness meditation is scientifically proven to tame our distracted, unfocused minds.
- If you’re just getting started, mindfulness of the senses is a great place to start. This technique brings your focus into the present, into your body, away from the racing thoughts in your brain. Even just 2 minutes a day can reduce the noise going on in your brain for the rest of the day.
- If you’re looking for a great app, try Headspace.
- And if you live in Auckland, the mindfulness courses at Renew Your Mind provide a brilliant introduction to mindfulness. I highly recommend it.
2. Don’t switch
We associate multi-tasking with efficiency. But research has shown that you are far more efficient when you do one thing at a time. Despite what you may think, your brain cannot focus on more than one thing at a time. The more you try to do at once, the less productive you become. By being fully present to the task at hand, you allow your brain to function optimally, rather than being divided and distracted.
3. Switch off
Multiple browsers, notifications, text alerts, news updates … endless noise and distraction are constantly pulling you away from the present. If you want to learn to have a calmer, more uncluttered mind, switch off all the noise. Turn off notifications. Learn to work without hundreds of browsers open. Move away from your phone. Focus on the present. If you haven’t already, check out this clip. It’s pretty powerful.
4. Switch foods
The more I’ve pursued a diet of whole, unprocessed food, free of refined sugar, additives and preservatives, the clearer my head has felt. Want some convincing about the effects sugar is having on your brain? You have to watch this.
5. Switch on your body
Exercise. We all know this one. Since I’ve prioritised exercise as a daily part of my routine, my anxiety levels have been lower and my head’s been clearer. I know, because the days I skip it, I notice a shift in my mental state. I exercise first thing to make sure it gets done before the demands of the day squeeze it out.
6. Switch off the excess
If you’re doing too much, your brain will be on constant overdrive. You need to do less. Declutter your schedule, and get rid of all but the essential things in your life. Look critically at every commitment you have, and assess whether it is truly important to your life. I’ve written more about this here.
None of this is rocket science, but we all (myself included) need constant reminders of these key activities, that we all too easily neglect in the hustle of life.
First published 12 Oct 2015 here on lifeedit.co.nz