The busy mind gets bogged down with so many things that thinking becomes a chore. When you don’t spring clean your mind, you can almost visualize the clutter of thoughts that compete for space in your head. This often leads to frustration and burnout at home or at work resulting in doing too many things simultaneously and achieving nothing.
One way to have mental clarity in times of overwhelming circumstances is to compare it to a room in our homes that we have to declutter and organize. Recently, Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo hyped up the entire world with her minimalistic techniques. Her TV series is an eye-opener to the problem we have with our own brand of hoarding and clutter. As it is with our work and home spaces, let’s see how we can spring clean your mind using these 3 steps.
Spring Cleaning the Mind
1. Identify Your Priorities
As much as you’d like to believe that you can empty your mind and run on a stripped-down slate, this is just not how your brain works. Over time, when you get old enough to need to spring clean your mind, it’s that stage in life when you have accumulated a lot of things, thus muddling your priorities.
Instead of sorting out through all that mess which may take an awful lot of time with life’s complexities, setting up priorities will quicken the process to show you what things matter most. Getting to know your priorities instead of getting carried away with the accompanying emotions that sway you will give you a focus that the latter can never achieve. Identifying your priorities cuts through the muck and gets to the essentials that matter.
2. Practice time management and time optimization
When you get to identify your priorities, it becomes easier to group the thoughts in your minds into categories. This is especially helpful when you are faced with a host of overwhelming events. Group the “urgent” matters vs. the “important” ones. One way to do this is through the Eisenhower method.
Time management methods are helpful for identifying priorities you may not even be aware of. And you’ll be surprised to find that you can put off or shelve some things you once thought were must-haves or must-dos. You can also keep track of the time spent on a project, and move faster instead of procrastinating.
3. Get rid of toxic people and habits
People who bring you down
We’ve all had toxic people in our lives – a significant other, friends and co-workers. It may not be easy to end an intimate toxic relationship but believe me, it can be done. And after all the tears and heartache, you’ll look back and be glad you did it. As for toxic friends, stop communicating with them. If they persist in calling or texting you, be cordial but end it immediately.
The bigger problem is dealing with toxic people you have no choice but to live with. They could be a parent, an in-law, a sibling or your co-worker. Techniques to deal with them include distancing yourself or limiting interactions with them, setting boundaries, and changing the way you respond to them. You can avoid a battle and not sink into depression by controlling your reaction to their toxicity and not getting emotional about it.
Smoking, heavy drinking, spending too much time on social media or games, and harboring negative emotions are examples of unhealthy habits that need spring cleaning from your mind. If you can’t overcome an alcohol or cigarette addiction by yourself, seek help through groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and similar programs focused on a certain addiction.
While an obsession with social media or games isn’t officially labeled an addiction, they have a negative effect on your physical, mental and social well-being. Spending too much time online takes you away from exercising and meeting with friends face to face. It can also cause anxiety and depression when you begin comparing your dull and dismal life (or so you think) to those of your friends.
To wean yourself from online addiction, have a digital detox: set self-imposed time limits on your overall screen time; schedule to answer emails only at a certain time of the day; join activities where the use of devices is not allowed or not possible, i.e., swimming, running, sports.
A constant feed of negative emotions, like envy, unreasonable anger, sarcasm, despair, spitefulness, and unkindness will eat at you, eventually eroding your natural goodness and complicating your life with unwanted consequences. Although no one can avoid having negative emotions, it’s important to learn how to manage them in a healthy way, rather than deny they exist.
When you spring clean your mind, you get rid of distractions, enabling you to focus on what matters in your life.