Have you ever had to look for a matching sock in a drawer that you have not cleaned for months? You probably didn’t find the sock but you probably found a bunch of things that you didn’t realize you had any more. As you begin to dig deeper and deeper into your drawer, finding one things leads to another, and soon you forget what you were looking for in the first place!
Now you may never had been in the situation where you actually lost a sock, but I know that we all have been in a situation where we were thinking about something and then all of a sudden another thought pops into our minds and we completely forget what we were thinking of before. This happens so often and is very frustrating.
You will find times in your life when you are more forgetful than usual. Typically it is when you under stress or bogged down by many little annoyances. This is what I call mental clutter. Mental clutter is a collection of the thoughts that continuously pop up in our mind. It’s the things that we think about and should take care of but then we end up ignoring. These thoughts will continue to haunt us until we attend to them.
We all have mental clutter in our minds. Here is an example list of some of the mental clutter we carry around with us:
- Things that we worry about
- Things that we need to complete on our To Do list
- Things we feel guilty about
- People or things we are mad about
- Stresses in life
- Money issues
The one thing you will notice about mental clutter is that it completely robs you of your mental energy. As you leak mental energy, you feel less energetic, you have less passion in life, you become more forgetful, and you feel more stressed.
Think of it like a car tire with a small leak in it, at first this small leak is no big deal, but over time, this small leak turns into a flat tire.
What can you do about your own mental clutter?
1. Identify your mental clutter
- Get a pen and a piece of paper
- Put 15 minutes on the timer
- Write down everything you can think of that clutters your mind:
- What are some of your thoughts that keep replaying themselves?
- What are you currently worried about?
- What gets you emotional when you think about it?
- What tasks do you need to complete but haven’t been able to?
- I would expect that this list be over a page long as we all have a lot of mental clutter
2. Identify what is under your control
- Go through your entire list and start putting check marks over anything that you have control over
- For anything you don’t have control over, cross them off the list and don’t spend another minute wasting your time thinking or worry about it
3. Prioritize your list of things you have control over
- I recommend that you take the items that you put a check mark beside and move them onto another piece of paper.
- Look at that list again and begin to prioritize the list
- When prioritizing, don’t just think about things that are most important to get done, also think of things that will help you clear off the most mental clutter. Remember this exercise should be used to help you complete the things that bother you the most, so that you can recoup the most mental energy.
- Choose a maximum of 10 items to tackle, if you choose more than this the list will become overwhelming
Now that you have your list of “energy robbers” it is up to you clear this list!
The hardest part of getting started is actually getting started! My advice is always don’t think about it, just start doing and once you are in action mode your list will start to shrink rapidly.
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