Burrrn… out. Sound familiar? When our minds become too scrambled to think straight or to remember the last time we had a full night’s sleep. A few experts weigh in on how we can take back control of our lives with a few simple steps. Declutter Your Brain
Leon Ho, Founder & CEO of Lifehack tells us, “Ignoring anything takes energy, and the brain becomes passive when it can’t control what to think about. Ignoring clutter around you such as noise and distractions often takes the same amount of energy as focusing.”
He points out, “When you know your priority on what is important, you know what to remove from life and free up brain energy. People are often unclear on what they want out of life and partners, etc. They spend time away from priority, trying to manage or ignore toxic relationships, the curated social media lives of their friends, etc.” he says.
Ho thinks that when we see clutter around us, it takes a lot of mental energy just to ignore it. He advises that first, we should declutter our lives, both physically and digitally.
Marelisa from Daring to Live Fully weighs in, “A cluttered mind is restless and unfocused. Physical clutter leads to mental clutter. Clutter bombards the mind with excessive stimuli, which forces the brain to work overtime. It signals to the brain that there’s always something else that needs to be done, which is mentally exhausting.” Declutter Your Brain
She offers these tips:
- Write it down. Choose a tool—it can be an online tool, an app, or even a pad of paper—and think of it as a storage device for all those bits and pieces of information that you need to remember.
- Keep a journal. A journal allows you to download the inner chatter that’s constantly interrupting your thought process when you’re trying to get important things done.
- Let go of the past. Most people keep a large cabinet of mental drawers stored in the back of their minds. These drawers are filled with mistakes they’ve made, opportunities they’ve missed, people they’ve hurt, past grievances, and so on. Take the time to go through those mental drawers and discard memories of the past that are not serving you well and are just cluttering up your current life.
- Stop multi-tasking. The mental equivalent of clearing off the kitchen table is to choose a certain amount of time that you’re going to devote exclusively to one important task. During that time push all mental clutter to the side and focus all of your attention on the task at hand. Declutter Your Brain
- Limit the amount of information coming in. Set a limit on the amount of time that you’re going to spend on social media sites or browsing the internet. Unsubscribe from any blogs and cancel any magazine subscriptions that are not contributing to your quality of life or your well-being. Make sure that the opinions that you pay attention to come from well-regarded individuals with relevant credentials. Decide what information is relevant to you and disregard everything else.
- Be decisive. If you put off making decisions, your brain will soon be overflowing with all of the decisions that you need to make. The solution is to be decisive. For simple decisions, follow an approach such as the one recommended by Benjamin Franklin: create a pros-and-cons list. When you need to make more important and complex decisions, apply a more thorough approach, such as the WRAP Method recommended by the Heath brothers in their book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work.
- Put routine decisions on auto-pilot. Small, routine tasks can occupy a lot of brain space. Get as many small, routine tasks as you can out of your head by setting them on automatic. Declutter Your Brain
- Nothing creates as much brain clutter as an endless to-do list. Accept that you can’t do it all, and choose to focus on the things which are most important to you. Make a short list of your top priorities, and make sure that the bulk of your brain space is devoted to the things on that list.
- Learn to meditate. When you learn how to place all of your attention on one thing—such as your breath–, all other thoughts disappear. It’s almost the equivalent of taking your mind through a car wash, and having useless and unnecessary thoughts washed away.
In a recent article for Forbes, Noma Nazish tackles the subject head on, and comes up with a lot of the same conclusions. She reminds us, “Just like our cabinets and cupboards, our minds too need tidying up from time to time. Getting rid of all that non-essential mental baggage is crucial to stay focused, motivated and productive.”
Some more tips from Nazish are:
- Set priorities. Prepare a list of your top priorities and make sure that your actions and the decisions you take reflect the priorities you set. The next step is to create an action plan to meet those set goals and to work on how you want to divide your time to focus on each item on that list.
- Deep breathing is a simple yet effective technique to clear your mind, induce tranquility and elevate your mood instantly. It lowers the heart rate and blood pressure and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps your body relax. Other than being a stress-reliever, breathing exercises also promote concentration and strengthen your immunity system.
- Share your thoughts. Talking to a loved one about how you feel is a great way to release pent-up emotions. Sharing your thoughts with others can also help you look at things from a fresh perspective which can help you think more clearly and make better decisions.
Simple advice, yet it could be a life changer. Try to carve out a little quality time for yourself in the process.