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How Living Clutter-free Will Make You a Better Decision Maker

How Living Clutter-free Will Make You a Better Decision Maker

With every choice comes a decision, and from the moment you wake up to when your head hits the pillow each night, you are faced with endless choices.

When life is stressful, plates are overflowing, and your brain, living space and work space are cluttered, making a decision (even a simple one) can seem overwhelming. So what do you do? You make the decision not to make a decision.

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Things you say to avoid making a decision.

  • “I’ll look at it again tomorrow.” Putting off your decision is a choice you make that will impact your happiness on a daily basis. When you don’t take action, you direct your attention to the what ifs instead of moving forward. “What ifs” are a waste of time and you don’t have time to waste.
  • “Let’s wait and see.” Usually, ‘wait and see’ means ‘no thank you’ or ‘never gonna happen,’ but because you want to make everyone happy, you avoid the conversation. Be kind to yourself and others by being honest about your decision in a timely matter.
  • “You decide.” When you say this, you decide to give your decision away. This almost always is a result of people pleasing or option paralysis. Even with small decisions like where to meet for lunch or what color to paint the kitchen, giving your decision away can make you feel less connected and engaged.

If you’ve ever said any of those things, it’s time to clear the clutter for better decision-making. When you simplify your life and eliminate the things that aren’t actively adding value, you make time and space to make better decisions more quickly. If you’ve ever sat with a decision for very long, you know how painful indecision can be.

Three ways living clutter-free will make you a better decision maker

1. Know what you want. When your thoughts are ping-ponging from thing to thing and you are preoccupied with stuff that doesn’t really matter, you don’t have the mental clarity to identify what you want most. That goes for what you want most for lunch, for the moment and in your life. By removing the clutter, you give the most important things a chance to rise to the surface.

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Instead of organizing your stuff, shuffling papers, or cleaning your desk as a means of clearing your head before you make a decision, keep less. Life is distracting enough without adding drawers of stuff, piles of paper, and boxes stored in your closet.

2. Trust your gut. A pro/con list never hurts, but when you get too analytical, you can find reasons to support any decision. Analyze, but not to the point that you dismiss what your gut and heart know to be the best choice. Learning to trust your gut comes with practice and attention.

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Losing the clutter frees up time for you to give your gut the attention it deserves. If you don’t take the time to listen to what you know to be true, even before you know why, you are cheating yourself.

3. Embrace uncertainty. When you have less to lose, uncertainty is easier to grasp. Mitigate risk by trimming the fat (clutter) in your life and business so you can make decisions and know that things will be ok even if they don’t go as planned.

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There is more than physical clutter that gets in the way of making decisions. Things like anxiety (fear), hesitation (fear), worrying about what people will think (fear), and fear of making a bad a decision (fear) get in the way too, but once the clutter is gone, you will have the mental clarity to see your indecision for what it is.

Clear the clutter and admit that not making a decision is one of the worst decisions you can make. Those two actions will make you more confident in your decision-making and happier with the choices you make.

More by this author

Courtney Carver

Courtney Carver is a speaker, author, productivity expert and founder of Be More with Less.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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