It’s easy to see when our home, office, or car is full of clutter, but our minds are not so open. We can’t see the piles in our mind’s corners, the unpacked boxes of our history, or the regrets we revisit. Mental space gets cluttered with random thoughts, lists of worries and to-do’s, plus rules for how to live and what to do you may not even realize you’re following.
The problem with mental clutter is that you aren’t ever really present to what’s happening as it’s happening. You’re distracted. You’re reacting. You’re replaying events after they happen, or rehearsing them before they happen. You’re wasting precious time.
In the same way you arrive someplace only to realize you don’t remember the drive, you can spend your day (or your life) so distracted by the clutter in your mind that you aren’t really here.
So, how do you declutter your mind?
Just do one thing at a time. Eat when you eat. Walk when you walk. Talk on the phone and listen to another person without doing dishes, sending an email, or otherwise distracting yourself. Paying attention to the one thing you’re doing will help you notice details.
- Do you like this food? How does your body feel eating and digesting it? Do you want to go to sleep after? Do you crave sugar? Do you have enough energy to go for a run?
- Were you interested in the conversation? Do you care about this person. Do you feel like spending an hour chatting with them was a good use of your time and energy?
It’s easy to live automatically, to eat the same things because we always have, even though we’re older now or engaging in different physical activities and may have different nutritional needs. Or to stay in friendship with someone even though we don’t have much in common anymore or don’t really have time in our day to be on the phone so we talk to someone and make ourselves late or miss doing something that was really important.
Studies about multi-tasking show that one is not more productive when dividing attention or switching back and forth between tasks. When you mono-task, you not only realize how you feel about what you’re doing, but you see when you have too much to do and you get to make choices about what is cluttering up your schedule or your days.
The best way to get to know your own mind is to meditate. You sit down, focus, on your breath, and watch your thoughts float by like clouds. At least, that’s the goal. If you’ve ever tried to meditate, you know that it’s not all about sitting on a cushion with a quiet clean mind. You’re supposed to be watching your thoughts go by. But they don’t go by. They hang out. They hook you. You follow them into a story, an emotion, something you’re supposed to be doing. You’re not sitting on the cushion. You’re in a fight with your kid or your spouse. You’re planning a presentation, making a grocery list. You’re not here. You can spend a whole life this way, being in the past or the future, in thoughts rather than right here.
When you see your mind’s clutter, its activity, your habitual responses, you begin to have more choices, more power. Giving your life attention as it is happening gives you choices about how to live, how to respond to another person, a situation, to your thoughts, voices, have-to’s. You get to live your life in the here and now.
If you would like decluttering, organizing, or design help from spaceWise, call 512-591-8129 to get started.