10 Ways to Unclutter Your Mind

The clutter in our minds can prevent us from feeling good. We can’t focus. We feel like we are just spinning our wheels.

I know that when the clutter covers my brain like a fog, I feel like just giving in and surfing YouTube. After countless times of just giving in, I decided to create a plan.

So how does a person unclutter their mind?

I have some tools you can use on a daily basis that will help you obtain clearer thinking. The more you use these tools, the easier it will be to maintain a clear mind.

1. Eliminate noise

I know I have a hard time focusing when there is a lot of noise around me. You probably are easily distracted by noise too. So, try using noise canceling headphones or ear plugs to eliminate the noises that can pull you away from your work.

2. Find a way to laugh

A laugh releases endorphins. These endorphins are like dead cell sweepers. They increase the blood flow and push away the clutter. Try going to a secluded spot, thinking about a recently funny moment and chuckling to yourself. Once you get that laughter going, you’ll notice the lighter feeling. This may feel strange at first, but I promise it helps.

3. Vent to a friend

A good friend can help clarify issues that you are facing. I have one friend who has an uncanny talent for simplifying my problem so I can find a solution. So find a good friend and unload your thoughts. Even if they don’t have any solutions, you’ll feel more calm.

4. Go for a walk in nature

Nature has a healing property. It’s hard to feel anxious when surrounded by such beauty. Go to your local park and focus on the beauty. The clogged up thoughts will slowly evaporate away.

5. Meditate

Meditation is one of the best ways to train your mind. Studies have proven that taking time to be with your thoughts actually helps unclog the mind. You are helping create new brain synapses. These new synapses help you increase your ability to feel calm and relaxed in any situation.

6. Read Zen quotes

“Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind” – Zen proverb. When I’m feeling lost I pull out one of my Zen books and read the quotes until I find one that resonates with my soul. Then I post it on Twitter to share it with my audience.

7. Make a list

There are days when you are probably trying to hold so much information that you lock up your ability to make forward progress. Write down all your worries and fears then stash it away. You’ll feel a weight lifted off your shoulders. I like to keep my worries and fears for a month and set a reminder on my calendar to look at it in a month. 75% of the things on the list end up being things that didn’t even matter to me any more after a month had passed.

8. Clear away the visual clutter

When I have trouble writing, I clear away my workspace and in the process my mind starts to clear out too. When I’m done I’m ready to write. It’s interesting how a clean work environment will help me stay focused.

9. Take 10 deep breaths

When you begin to feel overwhelmed and you can’t think, this is the best time to stop and take 10 deep breaths. When doing this, make sure you aren’t working on anything else. Allow these slow deep breaths to relax your muscles and mind.

10. Let go

Much of our clutter is due to the fact we can’t let go. It’s really the basis of meditation. Letting go of the unnecessary so we can enjoy the present moment. Practice letting go of your thoughts and emotions. Let yourself come back to center. Next time you are at your desk, worrying about a project or co-worker – tell yourself to just let go and enjoy where you are.

What do you use to unclutter your mind?

* James of Men with Pens wrote an interesting piece called Are your clients really getting your best?

Image courtesy of h.koppdelaney

28 thoughts on “10 Ways to Unclutter Your Mind”

  1. Karl,
    That noise is a big one for me. When I’m really trying to focus and concentrate…I do so much better when there is little noise around me. If it’s something lighter…then some noise is okay. It’s why I find mornings to be such a great time for me to get things done – I just seem more able to concentrate with little or no noise around me.

    And, great points all around!!!

  2. Hi Karl!
    Clutter around me drives me insane – it’s the one I work on constantly. That, to me, is NOISE. The noise thing by itself isn’t too bad except when I try to meditate or sleep.

  3. Hi Karl

    This is excellent!!! You hit on a group of perfect points to really help people out.

    With regards to noise, I always had long discussions on this with students who claimed studying with music helped them. It actually doesn’t, unless the music has no lyrics. When there are lyrics involved, the mind starts to multi task in a way that takes away from the task at hand, as it is processing the words in the background. And since the lyrics are probably more pleasant to focus on than studying history or chemistry, students did not realize how much of the content they were losing as the brain had something more pleasant to focus on.

    The same goes for us, no matter where we are or what job we do. If we have something that needs our focus and attention, we have to create a soothing environment for that.

    Loved the other points too on the meditation and nature walks especially!

  4. Hi Karl,

    Great suggestions for dealing with clutter. Visual clutter and noise over which I have no control are the most distracting for me. I’ve noticed with the visual clutter it seems to be a bit of a chicken and egg type relationship; it’s not always clear if the visual clutter is contributing to the sense of mental clutter, or whether it’s a reflection of some mental clutter or feeling too overwhelmed. Either way, it’s definitely indicative that something has gone sideways, and taking a walk to get some perspective and allow some answers to emerge is usually a good first step to resolving the issues.

    Have a great, clutter-free day.

  5. Hi Karl,

    Thanks! Yeah, that clutter is everywhere, isn’t it? And it seems that our culture supports “more” in a variety of ways; we even get recognized and affirmed when we do more and have more. Funny, I’ve led an entire 8-hour class on time management & organization which focused almost entirely on getting rid of the distractions and that ‘noise’ you speak of. But we have to take action and make it happen, and you list some great ways to do it.

    For me, it’s being crystal-clear on my priorities…so when those distractions pops up (because they will), I know to simply just let them go. And that feels good!

    Thanks for the great reminders!

  6. Zen quotes are a great approach — insightful and precise.

    The best way I’ve found to unclutter my mind is to have a time for things and a place for things. If I know I have a time slotted for worry or a time slotted for fun, it’s easier for me to let things go and pick them up when I need to.

  7. Hi Karl, found your blog through your comment on Tess Marshall’s blog and absolutely loved this post. I’ve been reading Rumi quotes the whole day today and posting some on Twitter too:) Not really zen, but does the trick for me each and every time I need to refocus and unclutter my mind. Check this one out – “The art of knowing is knowing what to ignore.”Rumi.

  8. The noise is a big one for me, too. I sometimes take my computer to a local coffee shop to work for a change of scenery. In my area these shops blast the music! Even though it’s classical, it’s so loud it’s more distracting than anything. I used to get anxious with silence, and now I find myself feeling more anxious around too much noise.

  9. Hi Karl,

    I work best in the quiet. Noise is distracting for me, even if it’s music. And making a list helps me a lot, too. I find if I write down my “to dos”, I can unload them from my mind and feel mentally lighter.

    Physical clutter is another one for me. Although I do try to keep my desk neat, with a home office it’s never long before the papers get stacked up. Aughhhh!

  10. Hi Karl,

    Something else that works for me is to schedule everything. That way it’s out of mind.

    Having a head-full of things to do, weighs you down. So have somewhere to place all task so that they pop up for you, with plenty of time to spare.

    I tend to use Google Calendar and Task manager. I get sent an email when something needs to be done.

    By the way, here’s a great free gift for your readers, all about Concentration. It’s an old book yet its ideas still hold true today – http://www.powerconcentration.com

    Cheers, Thea

  11. My favorite one is going for a walk (or for a run) in nature. It always helps me straighten out my thoughts and get rejuvenated physically and emotionally.

  12. Hi Anastasiya, What a beautiful name. Going for a walk with my dog is the best way for me to clear out the clutter and bring myself back to center. Some of my best ideas have been when going for a walk in nature. Just something special about clean air, trees and water that helps me think.

  13. Hi Karl,

    I agree with Anastasiya and Eric. Exercise is a good form to de-stress as well as to rejuvenate your mind, body and soul.

    Laughing is another great option. Apart from releasing endorphins, many researches have suggested that laughter not only influences our mental framework but has a positive effect on the physical aspect as well.

    It also allows colleagues to connect better and creates a better bond especially when working in a team.

  14. Hi Karl. The topic of uncluttering one’s mind is following me today. I think its a message from the Universe 😉
    For me Nature and meditation help in quietening the mind. I also like laughter.Never thought of that before, so thank you for this very useful post.God bless

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