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5 Ways to De-Clutter Your Mind

5 Ways to De-Clutter Your Mind

We’ve all been there. An important deadline looms, yet no matter how hard we try, we can’t stop thinking about something else. Perhaps it’s an ongoing conflict, an unresolved issue, or something we need to remember to do later on. Whatever the case, having too much mental clutter can prevent us focusing on important tasks in the present.

Here are five quick tips you can use as a quick fix to de-clutter your mind and get on with your day.

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1. Meditate

Even a few minutes of silent meditation can be enough to clear your mind of excess clutter, help you feel more grounded, and improve your focus. For a simple meditation, set a timer for five minutes, focus your eyes a few feet in front of you and shift your focus to your breathing. Whenever you notice yourself getting caught up in thoughts, don’t worry. Just bring your awareness back to your breathing as soon as you become aware that your mind is wandering.

2. Journal

Stream-of-consciousness journaling is a great way to get your thoughts and feelings out of your head and onto paper, especially if you’re getting distracted by thoughts about a particular person, situation or event.

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This kind of journaling is easy in theory, but in practise it can feel alien at first and it can take a few tries to get used to it. To make the most out of stream-of-consciousness journaling, take a blank page (or blank screen) and simply write down whatever comes into your head. All thoughts go on paper, even “I don’t know what to write”.

When we journal using stream-of-consciousness, it’s easy to slip into self-censorship and judgements about what we’re writing. For this kind of journaling to be effective, try to suspend any thoughts about what you should or shouldn’t be writing, the quality of your spelling and grammar, or whether what you’re writing even makes sense. Those things don’t matter; the most important thing is that you have a place to channel your thoughts, whatever they might be.

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3. Talk about it

Talking to others about the topics that are cluttering your mind has two main benefits: it can help you feel validated and heard, and it can also provide you with a different perspective. Often, just having someone listen to and understand what’s on your mind helps relieve some of the urgency and intensity of the thoughts. Equally, hearing someone else’s thoughts and perspectives about what’s on your mind can leave you with new insights and resolution.

4. Do a core dump

If you’re not preoccupied with one topic in particular, but are struggling to stay focused in light of an overwhelming to-do list, brainstorming or carrying out a core dump could be the mental de-cluttering method for you.

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A ‘core dump’ is a term devised by David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, which is one of the most popular productivity systems in the world. When you carry out a core dump, you write down everything you can think of that requires you to do or remember something, and then organise these items into individual tasks and projects. The more information you store in your head, the more cluttered your thoughts will feel. Transferring these to-do items from your head onto paper or screen frees up valuable space in your mind so you can focus on other things.

5. Change your scene

Changing your scene might sound too simple to be effective, but it really works. When we perform the same activities in the same place over and over again (for example, writing reports in our office), we can get stuck in mental ruts that are associated with that particular activity and place. Moving the activity to a different location can help us look at it with fresh eyes and a new focus, relieving the mental boredom that might lead our mind to wander to other things.

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Hannah Braime

Hannah is a coach who believes the world is a richer place when we have the courage to be fully self-expressed.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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