Have you ever had one of those days or weeks where your brain feels so cluttered that you can’t focus? Does it happen more often than you’d like? Chances are you need to empty your mind.
In a recent article by Today.com, they talk about brain clutter in relation to aging. It’s normal for our brain capacity to decrease as we get older. But brain clutter causes many seniors to forget little things. Even something as small as turning off the lights when you leave the house.
This isn’t new or groundbreaking and it isn’t resigned to only seniors. In this digital age, we’re all fed information, memories, and news from endless directions. We’re taking in more than we’re capable of at alarming rates.
Having too much information to store is what causes your brain to clutter up. And if you don’t learn to empty your mind of all that stuff, you’ll never be able to focus well.
The first step to emptying your mind of clutter is to write it down. Yes, most of us have smartphones that have a ton of information-capturing apps. But good old fashion handwriting is still the tried and true way of remembering things.
Your goal when writing things down isn’t to just get them out of your head. If it’s a task you need to do, writing it down will help you remember it more. Putting this task or to-do on your phone might mean it’ll disappear into the ether of the digital landscape.
That’s why having a dedicated notepad, notebook, or planner for this is key. Use it as a brain dump collection. Write down whatever is on your mind and analyze it later. Once a week works.
This way you can run through the list and decide:
Writing things down is truly the best method for emptying your mind of brain clutter.
How many times a day do you check social media? How many news apps do you have on your phone? While it’s important to get news from all different types of sources, it can overwhelm your brain.
Something you can do to empty your mind of brain clutter is to limit the amount of information coming at you. That means limiting the number of times you check social media or the news.
Choose one or two that you prefer and schedule times throughout your day to check them. No more than three.
Your goal here is to protect your brain from getting cluttered with information that won’t serve you. Because let’s be honest: Does knowing everything that’s going on in the world affect your day-to-day life? Chances are, it doesn’t.
While it’s important to stay up to date on events, overwhelming your brain with too much news can lead to decreased focus and poor productivity. So learn to limit the amount of information coming at you on any given day.
Journaling was and still is one of the best and cheapest forms of therapy. Anyone can keep a journal. Some are adamant in their practice and journal every day. Others journal when inspiration strikes.
What you do depends on your preference. But if you want a way to empty your mind of constant brain clutter, starting a journal is a great place to start.
Don’t think you need to recap your day. A journal is more than that. It’s what you make it. You can use it to record information, brainstorm tasks, or simply write down things you’re grateful for.
Not sure what to write about? Use prompts. There are a ton available online. They’re a great way to get your thoughts churning.
I couldn’t write a blog post about clearing brain clutter without talking about decluttering your physical space. There are countless studies that show how the look and feel of your surroundings impact your mental clarity.
If your space is constantly cluttered, chances are your brain is too. Physical and mental clutter are inexplicably linked. The good news is there are many things you can do to fix that.
Implementing a nightly tidy-up routine is one way. Doing this allows you to fall asleep at night knowing all the clutter has been cleared. Having a clear workspace allows you to stay focused on the task at hand rather than on the pile of papers on the corner of your desk.
If you want to learn more about how your physical clutter affects your mental health, you can read my previous blog post here.
If you’re someone who has a never-ending to-do list, you need to learn how to prioritize. Prioritizing your to-do list is the simple act of taking the most urgent and time-sensitive tasks and working on those first.
Many people have a difficult time prioritizing because they’re not always sure what’s urgent. Isn’t everything? Well, that depends. Can you hold off on laundry for one more day so you can finally finish your daughter’s costume for her school play that’s in three days?
What about that big work presentation you have coming up next week? Can you ignore your email for the morning to focus on it? Or can you delegate smaller, menial tasks to an assistant or intern?
Prioritizing is all about putting the important stuff first. The dishes will get done, I promise. They might just need to sit there for one more day while you finish something that’s on deadline.
Learning to prioritize will help you empty your mind and keep your brain clutter-free. This is because you’re knocking off important tasks that often cloud your head.
One of the things that often cause our brains to clutter up is the number of tasks we need to get done. But multitasking is never the answer. Why? Because when you multitask, you’re not giving 100% of your attention to a single task. Your attention is divided.
If you want to empty your mind of all the things on your to-do list, it’s best to learn how to single-task. That means working on one thing at a time.
Yes, you can do the laundry and work on other tasks. But folding the laundry while reading a document for work isn’t a good idea. Even if you’re a pro folder, your attention is still divided and you won’t retain what you’re reading.
Instead, read the entire document and then fold laundry. Or fold first and then read. When you single-task you’re giving each individual task your full attention. That means you’ll produce better work and you’ll get it done faster.
The reason many of us have cluttered brains is that we’re focused on things that happened in the past. I’m not talking about memories. Memories are good things to remember.
I’m talking about an argument you had with your boss or spouse. I’m talking about something you forgot to do or buy. When you hold on to mistakes or regrets of the past you’re letting that stuff clutter your brain.
This doesn’t leave a lot of room for new information to come in. Then when you forget important due dates or appointments, you get angry at yourself and instead of letting it go, you think about it over and over again.
If you want to empty your mind of clutter, you need to learn to let go. Of mistakes, regrets, and more. If it doesn’t serve you, you can let it go.
Holding on to too many regretful memories can overshadow the good ones. It can also make remembering appointments and deadlines harder. Once you learn to let go of thoughts or memories that don’t serve you, you’ll be in a better position to clear your mind of clutter.
Many people fear aging because they associate it with forgetting. But the truth is you can age and still retain memories and recall things you need to get done. How? By learning how to deal with brain clutter now.
If you start to implement these tips into your daily life and learn to empty your mind of brain clutter, you’re going to find that aging is a beautiful experience. And there’s no better time than the present.
What’s something you tend to forget on a daily basis? Do you use your phone or a notebook to capture important information? How many news apps do you check on a daily basis?
Photo: Altair Mittal
May 11, 2022