Bogged down with a never-ending rush of thoughts? 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 frequently 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. One thought chases another and we’re never really truly in the moment.
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 de-clutter 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:
- Keep a journal
This is a great way to empty your mind and 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.
- 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.
- 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. iphone has introduced Screen Time – use it to monitor the time you spend on apps and Social Media and set limits to enable you to avoid over-use, especially around bed time!
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 de-clutter your mind and retain focus every day. Try using an app like HeadSpace or Calm if you feel you need some support in getting going. Don’t expect too much, just observe your busy mind and after a while, your ability to bring your attention back to the moment will improve and the benefits will become apparent.
- 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. 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 break times.
- Embrace a routine
A daily routine ensures 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 de-cluttering, you can welcome productivity, focus and most importantly, calmness into your daily life.
We all know the importance of sleep but many of us struggle to achieve the necessary amount of sleep to ensure we are at our most productive throughout the day. We are all different, but an adult generally needs 7 hours of sleep each night, so make this a priority. If you struggle to get to sleep or wake in the night full of mental clutter, try listening to a Nature Sounds playlist very low, or Eckhart Tolle’s audiobook, The Power of Now – his voice is enough to send anyone off to sleep, but with a lovely, positive message seeping into your unconscious.