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I’ve been reading this book, and it caused a significant epiphany this week. It’s called, “When Less Becomes More,” (affiliate link) and the author talks about how simplifying your life is so much more than throwing your stuff away. We know this, obviously, but some of her points helped me pinpoint some areas of opportunity within my own life. I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic lately and wanted to share some insight.
What is mental clutter?
I believe mental clutter looks almost precisely like physical clutter. Your house gets “messy” when you are too busy to perform routine tasks, like picking up toys or staying on top of the laundry. When you are rushing from task to task or have too much piled on your already full plate, clutter starts to control your life. I believe it’s the same with your brain. When you have a thought or a mental task to complete, it stays at the forefront of your mind until you complete it. Thus it’s similar to the pile of laundry that needs to get done. Your brain reminds you to do it throughout the day, but you may be too tired or too busy to complete it.
Why does this matter?
It matters because when your mind is cluttered, it’s almost impossible to relax and unwind. I may be alone in this, but I am betting I’m not, and when you have an endless list of things that you need to get done, shutting that part off takes a toll on you whether you realize it or not.
So how do we deal with this mental clutter?
I believe the answer lies in analyzing what is causing the mental clutter and tackling it one by one.
There are two types of people in this world: people who like to have an empty inbox and people who are okay with having thousands of emails. lol 🙂 I see my email as a to-do list and clear it regularly throughout the day as I handle each incoming request. I have many friends who are completely fine with NOT doing this and would rather scroll through their inbox, looking for vital tasks only and leaving the rest unopened. I am not here to say one is right or wrong, but I do think both sides could benefit from clearing some of the excesses. I’ve been working on this all week and have made a considerable dent in my inbox. You know when you accidentally sign up for emails and don’t realize it? Like the time I bought something small off of Wayfair, and now they email me three times a day?!? Put an end to it! Unsubscribe from all of the promotional emails you delete daily or don’t need. It takes a little time, but it is so worth it! These emails, whether you read them or not, add to your mental clutter. Spend some time clearing it this week.
Many of us have been home, taking advantage of the free subscriptions available. I know we are as well…free Beachbody workout for 60 days? Sign me up! The problem is the “free” subscription will end. Lol And it will end probably right when you get to go back to work or resume your somewhat regular schedule. Put in an alarm or a calendar reminder to cancel the subscriptions before you get charged. Having a pending task like this adds clutter. When you handle the job, even if it’s by knowing it is something you will do later, it clears it from your current to-do list.
Speaking of to-do lists. Let’s be real about them right now. There’s another excellent book called “Eat That Frog,” (affiliate link) and the premise of the book instructs us to tackle the hardest task first. There’s a similar proverb: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” If you are a to-do list person, there’s likely a task or multiple that you don’t want to handle. In my case, sometimes, these items end up carried on from one day to the next (maybe even for multiple weeks)! Both the proverb and the book suggest tackling the hardest task first. Get it done and out of the way. The mental clutter caused by the big or unpleasant task outweighs the actual job. Are you and your kids struggling to get schoolwork accomplished? Try to do it first thing in the morning and see if that impacts your mood. It may not work for everything, but getting things done, clears your mind for rest and allows you to think more clearly about other tasks.
Lastly, I wanted to point out a major time suck. Screens. I went to a networking brunch earlier this year, and they suggested time blocking your screen time. I know it seems silly, and you may even think that you don’t spend much time scrolling, but ohhh, the time wasted on these little things. I can lose hours of my day on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. HOURS! I know that I am not alone in this. It’s so easy to get distracted. Here’s the problem: scrolling time is not rest. It’s adding more mental clutter. You are distracted by each post, and it fills your mind with information. In the book, “When Less Becomes More,” Emily Ley points out the power of our phones and how the distraction adds stress and comparison to our lives that is utterly unnecessary. Be true to yourself and spend some time thinking about your phone habits. If you put it down for a while, would it help you focus more on what is happening within your walls? Would it free up some time? These are questions I ask myself too.
I hope this helped you think about what mental clutter may exist in your space today. What can you do about it?
Message me if you need more suggestions!
With love always,