Decluttering has become fashionable in recent years with the rise of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Although I haven’t extensively studied her work, I definitely subscribe to the idea that decluttering can transform a person’s life.
However, I am more interested in how we can declutter our minds, than our environment.
Our minds can be cluttered with an overabundance of thoughts and worries. What is cluttering your mind right now?
Maybe it’s whether you paid for long enough parking, or remembered to call your Mum this week, or took your medication today?
Or is it that you find yourself going over past experiences? Wondering on whether you could have delivered that presentation better, spoken up more, or saved that relationship?
It might be that you are looking forward to something, such as a once-in-a-lifetime trip, catching up with old friends at the weekend or an upcoming family wedding.
When I am coaching, I aim to be fully present in the moment for my clients.
It’s important for me to park all that is on my mind and come back to it after the session has been completed.
Do you do the same before an important conversation?
Here are the three things that I do to declutter my mind.
Write down all of my to-dos. I find it increasingly difficult to rely on my memory to keep track of a To Do list. So instead, I download my thoughts onto paper and prioritise them to help me keep moving forward.
Getting my To Do’s down on paper takes them out of my head because it allows me to let go of the responsibility to have to remember them, decluttering my mind in the process.
Beyond my lists, I also journal.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center researchers, journaling is a helpful tool in managing mental health.
It can be therapeutic as it helps you organise your thoughts and understand your emotions, which is a healthy practice for your overall well-being.
2. Find Sanctuary
Part of the decluttering process is also to quieten our thoughts and that’s difficult to do if there are distractions around us and demands on us.
I like to visit art galleries to escape the sounds and demands of the outside world. Coach Jackee Holder, who facilitates sessions on my retreats, describes city parks as a great place to declutter our minds.
For some people I have spoken to their sanctuary is closer to home. Someone described getting in from work and then having an interrupted soak in the bath, in order to decompress, and practice deep breathing and positive self-talk.
Another person created a nook in their home with cushions and positive quotes on the walls.
It’s wherever works for you.
With practice, your mind learns that when you are in this place, your mind is clear, and it will get easier each time.
3. Good Enough is the New Perfect
Letting go of a need to be perfect really helps me to declutter my mind. It enables me to let things go and create space to focus on what’s important or gratifying for me.
Decluttering our minds is not about living a perfect life. It is about setting realistic goals and then doing your very best to reach them.
The writer Avram Alpert recently argued that we should give up our obsession with greatness and instead try to build a good enough life.
Being good enough means being willing and able to respond to others demands, but also being willing to recognise our own limitations and to say no once in a while.
Living a good-enough life may not sound as inspiring as striving for excellence. But as the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips points out embracing the frustrations that come along with just being good enough is a vital part of living a life in which we feel safe, but are also able to become absorbed in projects that mean something to us.
In that way, being good enough is better than trying to be extraordinary.
What strategies do you use to declutter your mind?
Here are some further resources to help you work on decluttering your mind:
Video: How to declutter your mind Ryder Carroll TEDxYale
Worksheet: Declutter your mind worksheet
Online Coaching Programme & Community : The Happenista Project, is a great space in which to develop your ability to ‘say no’ and prioritise what’s important to you.
E-Book: 12 Essential Qualities of Changemakers. This eBook explores 12 of the qualities associated with being a changemaker: self-awareness and confidence, earning respect, daring to dream, skilful reciprocity, coaching, curiosity, creativity, communication skills, flexibility, authenticity, overcoming procrastination and staying positive.
E-Book: 12 Essential Qualities of Good Leaders. This eBook contains 12 short articles, each focusing on one of the leadership qualities and offering tips and practical resources to help you develop that trait in a way that fits with your life and work.