How to get rid of mental clutter and create more success
Is your brain working for you or against you these days? Whether you are trying to reduce stress, take more time for yourself, stop overeating, or simply enjoy life more, if you don’t believe you can, you probably won’t. March is National Nutrition month and the theme this year is one I love—Get Your Plate in Shape. While the holiday itself is promoting good nutrition, whenever I hear the slogan I think of everything we have on our plates and how essential it is to take charge of our thinking and our lives if we want to get healthy, get happier, or yes, even stop overeating. One key piece of this process is addressing mental clutter.
My good friend Lorie Marrero teaches people how to de-clutter by going on a “clutter diet”. It’s a great metaphor because we all know how clutter can bog down our lives and lead to stress and feeling overwhelmed (and if you are looking for help in this area, I strongly recommend Lorie’s program). Clutter goes deeper than our surroundings though. As we head into spring, I’d like to support you in something much bigger than airing out your home and clearing out your closets. While the results from these actions feel great, I’d like to suggest that you can get even bigger results if you focus first on de-cluttering your brain, refreshing your mindset, and doing a bit of internal spring cleaning.
Ready to get started? Grab something to write with.
Simple steps to start de-cluttering your brain and refreshing your mindset (so you can make healthy changes):
Let’s start by clearing out some of the overwhelm, time pressure, and to-do list clutter. What are your top 1-4 priorities for the next 30 days? Write these down. Do you know what you need to do to address these? If not, where will you get help? If you know what you need to do, have you allotted time for this in your schedule? If you haven’t, do this NOW. Break things down into even smaller chunks. What is your priority for today? If you haven’t already, assign the space you need to devote your energy to it.
Take charge of the mental clutter that can drain your energy. What is draining your energy or your motivation? List anything that is getting in your way, anything that you are tolerating that isn’t working for you, anything that is distracting you or wasting your energy or focus. Now comes the hard part. Imagine that I’m standing next to you as your life coach. Our aim is to make your life work for you in the best way possible. I challenge you to write down an action next to each item on your list of energy drains. Your choices might be:
- Stop wasting my time on this. Stop participating in this activity, relationship, etc.
- Delegate this to _______________________
- Postpone dealing with this until _______________________
- Set a date for resolving this and put it in my calendar here:________________
- Put this on my master to-do list to get to at some future date (and stop worrying about it now)
- Limit the time and energy I give to this to (choose a specific amount of time or specific hours of the day or month) ___________________________________
- Acknowledge that this is something I will choose to focus on until (specific date) _______________________ because _____________________________
- Change the way I’m addressing this by _____________________________
The point of this de-cluttering is to own where you are spending your time and energy.
Take control of mental static. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply and be present with yourself. Stop and consider the words that most frequently flow through your head and the way that you talk to yourself throughout the day. What are you saying and thinking? Be honest here. Write down whatever comes to mind.
Your soundtrack takes up powerful real estate. The way you speak and think to yourself will impact your confidence, your motivation, your energy, and your focus. As you know, we tend to see what we are looking for. If you are living your life in a place of stress and overwhelm, you are likely to notice and collect more of this and miss out on a lot of good stuff that can make life feel good.
Start a collection of messages you want to have in your head—mantras, reminders, encouragement that will help you stay motivated and feel positive. Write these down too. Consider placing these where you will see them and be reminded of them frequently. Choose your most powerful positive message and set a goal of writing it (by hand) ten times a day to help get it ingrained in your mind.
Examine your beliefs. What do you believe about your ability to be successful with stress, with your ability to stop overeating, or with your ability to achieve your current goals? Take some time to really think about this because your beliefs underscore everything you do. Do you have a clear vision in your mind of you crossing the finish line and a belief that you will accomplish your goal? Be honest here. This is a critical piece of mind clutter—because if you don’t see yourself as having the potential to succeed, than your attempts are like rolling a boulder uphill against whatever mindsets and negative beliefs you are fighting.
Write down any negative mindsets you are aware of that are blocking your path. Common examples are “I’ll always be overweight,” “I’m just lazy,” or “I’m not (fill in the blank) enough to (fill in your goal).”
The first step is to understand that these mindsets are roadblocks. The next step is to begin to challenge them. Begin by crafting statements that are positive instead of negative and that focus on what you do believe is possible for you. Don’t worry if your positive beliefs and confidence in yourself starts out small. You will build these over time by focusing on what you can do instead of on what you don’t believe or have confidence in.
Now, you’re ready to start taking daily do-able action. Get a colorful pad of sticky notes and put it in your workspace. At the start of every day, I challenge you to write down your three priority action items, your positive belief or positive intention for the day, and one lovely thing you will do for you. Attention high-achievers: If it doesn’t fit on that sticky note, you are probably biting off too much!
De-cluttering and de-stressing shouldn’t overwhelm your life. Give yourself time to play around with these steps. Pay special attention to any steps that are difficult for you—these are almost always the areas that need the attention most. If you find yourself getting bogged down repeatedly, get some help. You’ll almost always be able to upgrade your thinking and your actions much more quickly and get on the road to making powerful changes in much less time.
Take good care,