Earlier in my decluttering series, I covered topics on why you should declutter, how to declutter and maintaining a clutter-free lifestyle. Today’s discussion is about decluttering the mind. Cognitive overload is a real thing when you have a busy schedule and have a lot going on at once. Decluttering your mind can help embrace your creativity and increase productivity. Over the months, I’ve found ways to expand my capacity simply by adapting new habits. Here are my tips to help declutter your mind.
1. Design a foolproof wardrobe
Steve Jobs, along with other well-known executives, wore the same outfit every day so it was one less thing to think about. I’m finding life much easier to navigate by not bombarding myself with the daunting decision of what to wear every day. My advice is to focus on getting clothes that fit well and are hassle free. Skip anything that needs to be dry cleaned, unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you really like something, buy it in multiple colors. The easier it is to get dressed, the less mental stress you’ll experience. If you can afford it, consider hiring a wardrobe consultant.
2. Control your inbox
Facing your inbox doesn’t have to frightening. I used to be subscribed to a ton of newsletters, blogs, retailers and everything in between and had to sift through hundreds of emails. Since most of them weren’t providing me value, I unsubscribed from them. You should do the same and get rid of subscriptions that add to the clutter. Try to deal with emails on the spot. Also, look into apps that can organize your inbox by categories. In addition, create folders and labels, including a “to-do later” list for emails that require time and energy and go back to it when you’re ready.
3. Disconnect every day
Assuming that you work in front of a computer for eight or more hours and use a smartphone daily, it’s important to take time and disconnect. Shut off your computer, put your phone on airplane mode (or turn it off completely) and go read a physical book. Perhaps you can do some yoga, go for a run or ride your bike around the city. Indulge in some creative activities like playing music or painting. Even if it’s for a short amount every day, disconnecting from the world of real-time notifications and overload of content can truly work wonders for your mind.
4. Write everything down
I noticed that as I get older, my memory doesn’t hold up well. As a result, I started writing everything I need to remember on paper (literally). My Moleskine is basically a list of to-dos, notes for future blog posts and other things in between. Make sure that you write down what matters and not obsess over the nitty gritty details. It’s ideal if your notes are in one central place so that the only thing you have to remember is to look there. Writing everything has truly helped in terms of cutting down cognitive clutter and I feel a lot less stressed.
5. Automate everything
The moment I decided to automate my student loan payments, my stress level went down significantly. If anything in your life has an option to be automated, take advantage of it. If you can just give yourself one less thing to think about by creating automated processes, life is much easier to deal with. Automate as many bills as you can – rent, phone, electricity, internet, you name it. Automating everything also includes creating and sticking to habits that keep you focused. Once they turn into habits, you don’t have to think twice about getting things done.
6. Focus on one task at a time
We are all guilty of trying to multi-task and it’s definitely a “skill” that’s respected in society. But realistically, multi-tasking is actually detrimental for a person’s work flow and contributes to mental clutter. This is because you’re juggling more than one thought at a time. You actually take longer to finish the tasks involved and are prone to making more mistakes. Try to avoid working on multiple things at any given time, if it’s within your control. Stay focused on getting one task done before moving on to the next.
There you have it. These are my six recommendations to help you minimize cognitive overload and keep your mind clutter-free. If you live an actively busy lifestyle, it’s important to clear your mind and stay productive. We only have 24 hours in a day and 7 days a week but by incorporating these tips, you’ll see how easy it is get a lot done in the limited time that you have. What are your tips to staying productive and keeping your mind clutter free? I would love to know!