In this modern world, it’s easy for your mind to become overwhelmed. There are a ton of things we must do each day. Trying to keep all these thoughts at the forefront of the brain can be tricky. Add to this, thoughts about past events, and where you want to be in the future, and you have a melting pot inside you. On the internet, there are tons of strategies on how to deal with this, but I am going to focus on the ones that I apply daily to maintain calm. How do you declutter your brain? Let’s first see what the signs are that you might have this problem. And we all suffer from this at times in our life!
Signs of a cluttered brain
1 – Loss of focus
Focus is the ability to look at a task and be present at the moment to get it done. Sometimes for long periods. But if you are easily distracted by other things that need doing, and you can’t seem to prioritise things, you end up doing a few half jobs. This is because your concentration levels are low.
2- Decision Making is difficult
When you can’t decide whether to make potatoes or rice for dinner could be a sign of a cluttered brain. When you have a thousand thoughts passing through your mind in a second, can cause an inability to make simple choices.
3 – Unable to let go
Often a cluttered mind shows up as a cluttered workspace or home. In extreme cases, this could become hoarding. From the above inability to make simple decisions, you end up holding onto everything. Because you can’t prioritise, your workspace will have every paper open on it. Your PC will have hundreds of windows open and thousands of emails you’ll never look at again waiting to be opened.
4 – Creativity/Abstract thinking wanes
A lot of work these days is conceptual and requires you to think and compile solutions in the brain. If you know you are good at this but not able to do it anymore, it can mean your brain is fatigued. Perhaps you no longer have the passion to do your creative hobbies? Perhaps they become too hard and less enjoyable?
5 – “I’m Tired”
“I’m tired” are words of a tired brain. Especially if they are spoken early in the morning.
Tips on: How to Declutter your brain and think better
These are the techniques and tools that I have picked up over the years. When I become aware of the above symptoms, I remember to apply this.
1 – Write it down
Having so many thoughts in my mind can really make me anxious. By writing them down seems to move them on. Once they are on the paper, I can see them for what they are. Probably just a set of tasks that I want to happen. To try and stay on top of this, I manage upfront in the morning by writing and prioritising. By doing this, I know where to start. At the end of the day, I reflect on the list and see if I made it happen. Did something else come up? By tracking what I want to do and what happened, also helps me to understand the real priorities of my life.
2 – Stop Multi-tasking
My job managing a software development team, and managing multiple clients means a lot of tasks coming my way. Sometimes I catch myself doing one thing, see another email, and starting on the next task before I have finished the first one. If I allow this to continue, I know that nothing will get done and I will be anxious about the work not done. In these moments I stop, breathe, and relax for about 1 minute.
What is the most important task? Who can I delegate a task to? Who can help me? Sit back and prioritise.
3 – Breath or meditate
At least once a day, for 5 – 10 minutes, I enjoy the feeling of having to do absolutely nothing. I do this each morning to find peace and gratitude for what I have. It helps to clear the mind of all my clutter. I prefer guided meditation. My favourite expert being Andy Puddicombe from “Headspace”. There is even a “Headspace” series on Netflix that will introduce you to the calm.
4 – Build a Routine
Having a routine can keep you on track. Knowing that this is work time and this is playtime will direct your mind from one activity to the next. You may not follow it perfectly but having it there can bring you back in line. Make sure you include exercise and rest in your routine. Make sure you include family time in there too. Although you must be careful of this as “routine’ing” your family could make them feel like a task. And if you live with a free spirit partner as I do, sometimes you should concede the routine to maintain the love! Check out this post on my Daily Mode of Operation (DMO)
5 – Share Your Thoughts
During a busy day, we can forget to talk to people. There is often a great support structure just waiting for you to connect to. When I feel overwhelmed, I do two things. The first is to talk to my team. We need to be on the same page anyway. Just by talking new ideas are formed, and you might be able to solve issues faster. By doing this you automatically declutter your brain. From an emotional standpoint, I talk to my girlfriend. She is always there to listen and advise. Even if there is no conclusion to an issue, somehow the day feels less cluttered. Sometimes it’s just about letting it go.
6 – Learn to say “No”
As humans, we like to help others. I believe this anyway. But you cannot do everything, and you need to have boundaries. Sometimes there is something fun to do. I too find it difficult to say “No”. But to grow and get the clutter out of my brain, I need to say “No”
It’s normal to have clutter in the brain from time to time but knowing how to move past it is important. Once you start to put in place your ways (there are many more ways than the ones I have mentioned above), you can live a freer life. Things will get done and you will move forward.
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