5 Steps to Reducing Mental Clutter
Do you ever feel like you are surrounded by clutter and chaos?
And I don’t mean just physical clutter, but emotional and mental clutter. I know that I do. Sometimes I can be so overwhelmed because of all the “clutter” that is surrounding me and everything that I need to get done that I feel paralyzed.
As a mom, it can be hard to concentrate because we have so many tasks and responsibilities fighting for attention in our minds. And it can also be hard to concentrate when our lives and our homes are unorganized, but if we can minimize the clutter in our lives we feel less anxiety and feel less overwhelmed.
Check out the following steps to reduce mental clutter.
5 Steps to Reducing Mental Clutter in Our Lives
1. Use a Planner.
One of the best gifts my husband ever gave me was a planner. Who would’ve thought I would have loved a gift like that so much. It really has saved my sanity so much.
Planners are great because they help keep track of appointments and obligations. They also help to clear a busy mind and can help you to organize a plan to accomplish your goals.
I am currently using the Day by Day Planner by Datebook Publishing Inc, and really like it but am always looking for a great planner. Do you have any recommendations for work-at-home moms? If so leave a comment below!
2. Decide what your priorities are.
I know for women saying “no” can be so difficult, practically impossible sometimes, but it can be liberating.
If saying no is something that you struggle with then I highly recommend that you read The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa Terkeurst. My Bible study group did this study this year and it helped to take a lot of pressure off of me. She writes about learning the difference between saying yes to God and always say yes to people. Even when saying no is probably the right answer. This is one of the best devotionals I have read in a long time.
Decide what your priorities are. Is your priority health-related, spiritually inclined, financially focused, or emotionally based?
If you establish what you and your family’s priorities are, eliminating other tasks and obligations can be addressed. I am not going to say it will be easy to start with, but your path or plan will become more obvious.
This is also where having a planner can be so handy.
- If you have decided that growing spiritually is your priority, then establishing that the Wednesday morning ladies’ Bible study is a priority for you.
- If your health is failing and really needs to be a priority, then you might decide that the Wednesday morning fitness group is the better choice.
3. Focus on one task at a time.
This is not to say that you cannot address challenges in different categories of life, but just take it one step at a time.
Is multitasking actually a good thing? There was a time that I used to brag about my multitasking skills I acquired as a waitress and a Patient Care Technician/phlebotomist on a cardiac floor of a hospital. Further down the road as a mother of two, I find that having too much on my plate just makes it hard to concentrate and focus.
And according to Dr. Paul Hammerness (a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist) and Margaret Moore, the authors of Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life, multitasking increases the likelihood of making errors and missing essential information and signs. They also suggest that people who multitask are also less likely to retain information, which can cause issues with solving problems and the creative process.
Another thing to consider is that it can actually take up to an average of two months for a new habit to form. When the first habit or change becomes natural then you can add a new element to changing your life.
4. Reduce physical clutter.
Getting rid of physical clutter is typically difficult for one of two reasons (if not both): sentimental reasons and thinking that you might need the item in the future. Personally, I struggle when holding onto items that have sentimental value. My husband likes to hold onto stuff for the future. We are quite a pair, but we are working on it.
A study at Princeton found out that physical clutter competed for test subjects attention and therefore reduced the performance of the tasks they were asked to complete. The study also found that physical clutter increased the subjects stress levels. Another study done at UCLA showed that mothers dealing with belongings experienced a spike in stress hormones because it caused an overload on senses in a similar way that multi-tasking does.
Decluttering can be stressful in itself so just focus on one task or one room a day. There are some really great blogs out there that just focus on decluttering.
5. Reduce or Eliminate Social Media.
Social media can be great because it connects us to friends and family, but it also has a lot of negative effects. It causes us to focus on how other people are perceived to be living. And many times the perception that we are seeing and comparing ourselves too isn’t an accurate projection of how others are living. It also can distract us from what we really need or intend to do. And studies are showing that people who spend a large amount of time on social media have elevated levels of anxiety and low self-esteem.
I regularly eliminate social media apps from my phone. Every once in a while, I will add the FB app back to my phone (what can I say being couped up with a toddler all day does make a person miss the outside world)…but eventually, I regret and delete it again. This doesn’t mean that I am deleting my profile – just limiting my access to FB on my desktop computer. And I have found that if I am not constantly checking my Facebook account my mind is a lot clearer. With my mind being clearer I can really focus on what matters. And I am not getting down from comparing my boring life to other peoples amazing lives.