We can’t discuss streamlining our lives without also talking about clutter, it is one of the biggest obstacles in the way of us getting organized. There are two types of clutter that I would like to focus on, the first is the clutter taking up space in our environments (our home, office, car, yard, etc.) This is one we will address next week. Today we will concentrate our attention on mental clutter, because this one can stop us right in our tracks.
Mental clutter is often where physical clutter starts. I’ve had clients tell me they feel so overwhelmed by the disorder in their brains that they just can’t get anything started. A large part of this overwhelm comes from trying to hold onto everything, remember everything without compartmentalizing it first. I want to give you a couple of strategies to remedy this, and get you started on taking charge of your mind.
The first strategy is blocking off time to think. Yep! Just think. It’s something we both do too much of and not enough of all at the same time – especially as humans with ADHD! But we rarely take the time to shape our thoughts in a unified, structured, and constructive way. I recommend sitting down at regularly scheduled times to think with a journal and planner in hand. There is one caveat here – sometimes we just need to think without forcing ourselves to multitask, which can be a difficult thing to do in a fast-paced world.
This time however is necessary, and it is what I refer to as processing time, helping us to accomplish tasks by first quieting down the frantic energy or anxiety that comes with not being able to anticipate what comes next.
When we sit down with a journal in hand, we can use three different methods of capturing our thoughts. We can create a mind map which helps people who think in pictures or concepts, alternatively those who benefit from structure can create lists. If you are a list keeper, consider checking out “Listful Thinking” by Paula Rizzo – this publication really helped me.
Some of us think in narratives so we may write ourselves a story, or letter, reiterating the thoughts we took time to process back to us, alleviating feelings of panic when it comes time to begin the work.
Any of these three activities, or a combination of them, will help us declutter our minds. Whether our mental clutter stems from having too many things to do, or from that voice in our heads keeping us awake at night with all that we’re worrying about – it can steal our potential for feeling joy in the present moment, especially when we are constantly in stress mode. One of the most frustrating forms clutter can take as well is brain fog, a deluge of thoughts that aren’t really connected, getting in the way of us accomplishing our goals.
When we sit down to process and organize our thoughts, we must allow ourselves freedom from censorship to get through the fog. There is no judgment, you’re welcome to tear the entry up the moment you’re finished with it. The value doesn’t lie in what ends up on the piece of paper, it is in the act and process of writing it down. Typically, this allows for some order to take place.
After we have cleared our mental clutter, we are in a much better position to tackle physical clutter. When the mind is open, it can begin to sort out that which rests outside of it in a meaningful way.
Start by asking yourself a few questions as you sit to think like:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- What do I need to do accomplish it?
- In what way do I need to show up in order to accomplish it?
- Why do I want to accomplish it?
- Is this the right time to try accomplishing it?
Keep the answers to these questions handy. They will be helpful to us next week when we talk about tackling our physical clutter. We will review where to start, how to get started and how to keep going until we see progress.
Please don’t hesitate to share alternate methods you use to clear your mental clutter, and how you streamline your life while doing it!