How to Declutter Your Mind

Birds are chirping. The weather is warming up. We’re getting rainstorms to assist the promised blooms in May. Well, all that is true unless you live in Minnesota. :P But regardless of where you are geographically, there is one Spring cleaning you can do year-round: declutter your most valuable asset. Follow the steps below to regain your focus in life and live with a decluttered mind!

1) Hone into priorities instead of give into procrastination
Know what your life’s calling is (be that a tall order of changing the world or the pragmatic goal of providing for your family – or both) and prioritize your daily tasks to align with that calling/purpose. When you are passionate about the reason(s) for your existence, the everyday tasks become a lot less mundane and more tolerable, whether they are in direct alignment with your goals or just a small hurdle on your path to realizing your goals.

2) Clean your mental desktop
I will introduce you to two important C’s: Core dump and Compartmentalize. The act of core dumping involves writing down any wandering thoughts so they’re off your mind and you can revisit these thoughts later. You can write on post-its, on your smartphone, or on a simple text document. Once they’re off your mind, you’re freeing your mental capacity. Next, compartmentalize the rest of your mental desktop and flag them with deadlines. For example, my tasks can be categorized as personal, teaching, and research. Each task can be prioritized by how much I value its category *and* the impending deadline of each task. This way, you are not only prioritizing by urgency, but also importance and impact. It’s important to assign deadlines to your personal tasks, as well, even if no one else is holding you accountable for them.

3) Keep lists simple
Lists are extremely helpful. But don’t overdo them. Sometimes, we get so overwhelmed with long lists of to-do’s that we simply don’t know where to start. So, we don’t start. Avoid this problem by simplifying your lists. Give yourself 3 important tasks each day that you really want to tackle. The rest are bonuses. Reward yourself accordingly.

4) Change your scene
We may get stuck in mental ruts that are associated with a particular activity or place. Moving the activity to a different location can help us look at it with fresh eyes and a new focus, relieving the mental boredom that might lead our mind to wander to other things.

5) Get in shape
A healthy body nourishes a sharper mind. Say no to chronic sleep deprivation. Say no to overusing caffeine and fatty foods. A healthier body increases energy levels, keeping you off the lazy mode so you can more efficiently tackle your agenda.

6) Rid negativity
Let go. Worrying about something? Angry about somebody? Frustrated? Harboring a grudge? While these are all natural emotions and thoughts, none of them are really necessary. See if you can let go of them. Don’t be afraid to erase contacts or rid relationships that are toxic to you.

7) Stay grateful
Really focus on what makes you happy. Be thankful for those moments, those people and their influences. Many researchers advise that before going to bed, we should list at least three specific moments that we are grateful for that day. However, I believe it more beneficial to begin the day with these grateful thoughts. Think about all the opportunities you will have that day and be grateful for them. (I am thankful for the opportunity to present my research, to eat a delicious dinner with my friends, etc. etc.) This will keep you motivated throughout the day and help keep you stay on task.

We Say
Quiet your buzzing mind by getting rid of noise (aka excess and negativity) and focus on what’s truly important. Tackle your everyday tasks with your life’s purpose in mind. Stay committed. Stay motivated. Be grateful and happy. And then, you will find yourself embracing success. Good luck!

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