The 6 keys to decluttering your mind

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

Decluttering and Mindfulness: How Getting Rid of Stuff Can Help You Live More Mindfully

Decluttering as Mindfulness Practice

We are living such distracted, plugged-in-but-tuned-out lives, many of us have lost touch with our ability to be still, to sit in silence, to do nothing. Mindless distraction is at the tips of our fingers, at all times. But in the midst of this distractedness, we find ourselves craving stillness, singularity of focus, and mindful appreciation of the present moment.

So what does getting rid of stuff have to do with mindfulness?

Anuschka of Into Mind says:

“The state of our living space also tends to be a pretty accurate representation of the state of our mind. Psychological research has shown time and time again how physical clutter overloads our senses and stresses us out. We need a clutter-free environment in order to feel rested, calm and content.”

 

Our stuff pulls us in all directions, and prevents us from living more mindfully in the present. I’ve identified three main selves that our stuff pulls us towards:

Our past self

If you’re sentimental, you’re probably being drawn into this self by your stuff a lot. Those things that were once important or special to you, or that you once loved, and once served a purpose. But do you love them now? Are they serving a purpose now? We can of course make space for a few keepsakes and special memories, just not a houseful of them. A very small handful of the most special things, things that you still love now. Like an old tea set from your Granny, that you still use. Things shut away in boxes tend to burden us, and pull us into the past.

Our future self

It’s far too easy to use the line “I might like (or need) this again one day”, but we can end up overwhelmed by stuff that we are hanging onto, “just incase”. It’s weighing you down. It’s costing you. Give yourself permission to let things go, and live freer and lighter for it. And make peace with the fact that if you need that thing again, go buy it. The benefits of living with less FAR outweigh the cost of replacing the odd thing that you discover you need again after all.

Our imagined self

How many of us hang on to things because we thought we were a certain type of person but aren’t? Did you imagine yourself as the snowboarding type but it turns out you aren’t? Or the type that would wear 6 inch heels everyday, but they’re killing your back and they’re just not “you”? Be honest with yourself about which things are really serving you, and cull the rest.

The more we clear our houses of stuff that no longer serves a purpose in our lives, and keep only that which does, the more space we create to be mindful, present, and to get in touch with our true selves.

[ This post originally published on 7 July 2015 ]

I’m presenting a workshop on “Mindful Decluttering” in Auckland next week, on Wednesday 10 May. I’d love you to join me. Head here to buy tickets. 

The 6 Best Ways To Unclutter Your Mind

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 course at Renew Your Mind provides 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.

Decluttering and Mindfulness: How Getting Rid of Stuff Can Help You Live More Mindfully

Decluttering as Mindfulness Practice

We live in houses crammed with stuff. And most of us hang on to far more stuff than we need. Or even want. So much stuff that distracts us, overwhelms us, stresses us out and takes us away from the present.

So what is mindfulness, and what does getting rid of stuff have to do with it?

Mindfulness is simply the practice of bringing your full focus and attention to the present moment. The practice has been around for centuries, and has been practiced in its various forms by all the major religions. So why has it enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent times?

We are living such distracted, plugged-in-but-tuned-out lives, we’ve lost touch with our ability to be still, to sit in silence, to do nothing. For many of us, mindless distraction is at the tip of our fingers, at all times. But in the midst of this distractedness, we find ourselves craving stillness, singularity of focus. Mindful appreciation of the present moment.

Anuschka of Into Mind says:

“The state of our living space also tends to be a pretty accurate representation of the state of our mind. Psychological research has shown time and time again how physical clutter overloads our senses and stresses us out. We need a nice, clutter-free environment in order to feel rested, calm and content.”

Decluttering as Mindfulness Practice

Our stuff pulls us in all directions, and prevents us from living more mindfully in the present. I’ve identified three main selves that our stuff pulls us towards:

Our past self

If you’re sentimental, you’re probably being drawn into this self by your stuff a lot. Those things that were once important or special to you, or that you once loved, and once served a purpose. But do you love them now? Are they serving a purpose now? We can of course make space for a few keepsakes and special memories, just not a houseful of them. A very small handful of the most special things, things that you still love now. Like an old tea set from your Granny, that you still use. Things shut away in boxes tend to burden us, and pull us into the past.

Our future self

It’s far too easy to use the line “I might like (or need) this again one day”, but again, we can end up with a whole house load of stuff that we are hanging onto, “just incase”. It’s weighing you down. It’s costing you. Give yourself permission to let those things go, and live freer and lighter for it. And make peace with the fact that if you need that thing again, go buy it. The benefits of living with less FAR outweigh the cost of replacing the odd thing that you discover you need again after all.

Our imagined self

How many of us hang on to things because we thought we were a certain type of person but aren’t? Did you imagine yourself as the snowboarding type but it turns out you aren’t? Or the type that would wear 6 inch heels everyday, but they’re killing your back and they’re just not “you”? Be honest with yourself about which things are really serving you, and cull the rest.

The more we clear our houses of stuff that no longer serves a purpose in our lives, and keep only that which does, the more space we create to be present, and to get in touch with our true selves.

How about you: Do you find it hard to get rid of stuff? Which self do you identify with the most?