There is a type of clutter that has snuck up on many of us. We just don’t always realize it’s there. This type of clutter is called mental clutter. It can be just as time consuming, toxic and stressful to our lives as physical clutter.
I had my own “aha” moment about mental clutter one day when I started to add more books to my Amazon wish list. In the last few years, I had created a seriously long list. The problem was that I knew I was never going to read all those books. This was really stressing me out. My “aha” moment was when I realized I had no desire to read half those books anymore and I deleted them from my list. What a relief that was! If your brain is overloaded in a similar manner, it is time to clear your own mental clutter.
Do A Brain Dump
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The first step to releasing your mental clutter is to do a brain dump. Set aside an hour or so and grab all your physical and digital lists, notes, and papers that need attention, a pad of paper and your appointment book. I personally like to use a bullet journal to organize my life. Set a timer for an hour or more and during that time do nothing but write down every idea, task, and thought that is in your head or stuck on a post it note. If it is an appointment, put it in your appointment book now. It doesn’t matter the order, just get it out of your head. You can go back and organize it later.
When it is time to organize your list, follow these steps.
- Cross out any item that you no longer need to do.
- Make any item that can wait an appointment on your calendar for later.
- Schedule all bills to be a paid.
- Prioritize any remaining items in order of importance.
If you are looking for more detailed information about prioritizing your life for better productivity, check out the book Getting Things Done.
Purge Your Lists
If you have lists of books to read, recipes to try, or a to do list a mile long, think about purging those lists down to only the most important. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to just start deleting books off my Amazon wish list that I knew I was never going to read. In the back of my mind I was telling myself I needed to read those books and guess what? I really didn’t. I now have a curated list of books that I really want to read. What I don’t have is an unrealistic, source of stress.
Pick Your Favorites
I’ve had many hobbies over the years including sewing, knitting, jewelry making, and scrapbooking. Along with those hobbies came tools and materials I no longer use or need as well as a mental of lists of projects I was going to complete. The problem is I no longer have the time or interest to do any of them, yet I still allowed myself to feel obligated to do them.
So decide now which projects you will complete and which ones you need to finally say goodbye to. I still use many of the items I bought for old hobbies from time to time so I keep them. All the rest of the items I have gotten rid of, along with the mental burden they created for me.
Let It Go
Do you remember the scene in movie Titanic (spoiler alert), where old Rose tosses the Heart of the Ocean necklace back into the ocean? As she does she audibly says “Ahh” in a sigh of relief as she got rid of it. You can see a clip of it here.
This character had carried that necklace and all the mental and emotional baggage that came with it around with her for years. You can hear and feel her relief as she tosses it back to the ocean. There are probably similar types of mental and emotional clutter clouding your brain. The best thing you can is let that mental clutter go. Say goodbye like Old Rose does and be done with it, but don’t wait as long as she does to do it!
Clean Out Your Email and Paper Clutter
These are two of the ways that we become mentally cluttered. If your email notifications are stretching into the thousands and the piles of paper in your home are swelling, you probably have mental clutter you didn’t even realize you had. The reason is that somewhere in the back of your mind you are probably thinking that you need to clean out your email and the paper piles, but you are just so overwhelmed you don’t know where to start. If you find this is what is causing your mental clutter, check out the following links.