These days my mind is filled with lots of questions. Questions for which I have no answers. I’m calling these thoughts that fill my mind clutter. Do you have swirling thoughts, too? Sometimes these thoughts overwhelm me and make it hard for me to work. I thought this may be true for you also. I’ve developed a few strategies to help myself avoid feeling overwhelmed by these thoughts and want to share these tips to control clutter in the mind with you.
Before, in days gone by, I would arrive at my desk in the morning, quickly address my mail and then start my work. Now, however, it’s not possible to take a quick look at my mail. There are so many different news reports to read that I get drawn down rabbit holes. One message leads to a link and then another and before I know it an hour is gone. Poof! Just vanished. My thoughts get jumbled and then it’s really difficult to focus on the work I wanted to accomplish.
Tip #1: Stick to a schedule
When I write out my schedule,I do much better. I decide what I want to accomplish each day in addition to going through my mail. Using a timer helps me to control the clutter in my mail. I allow myself a set amount of minutes to deal with it. Knowing that I only have so much time helps me limit the number of rabbit holes I dive down. If something looks interesting, I bookmark it to return to later. This also helps me to stick to the schedule I created. Here’s a great article on the importance of having a schedule from Jodi Sleeper-Triplett.
Tip #2: The Rule of Three
Another tip to control the clutter in my mind is to tackle three things in a row and then take a mini break. It’s reasonably easy to keep track of three tasks. First do one, then another and then the last one and you’re done. Power through three things, take a break (you decide how long that will be) and then do another three things, if you have the time and want to.
There are a couple of benefits to using the rule of three. When my mind is focused on accomplishing the three things I have decided to do it doesn’t fill itself with cluttered thoughts. Nor does it tend to wander or ponder questions for which there are no answers.
Another benefit is that I am getting things done that I have wanted to accomplish for a while. I don’t know about you, in addition to my regular work I am tackling the home improvement projects that have been lingering in the back of my mind as things I wanted to do when I had the time. I have the time now, so I’m getting them done. One project at a time.
Tip #3: Practice Mindfulness
I am a big fan of mindfulness. Being mindful means that you are focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Practicing mindfulness helps me control clutter in my mind and maybe it will help you too. Truly be present in whatever it is you are doing. This will help keep your mind engaged, instead of letting it wander into the land of ‘what if..’.
When you’re out walking, notice your surroundings. Appreciate the beauty of nature. Stop and smell the blooming plants. If you have a garden take pictures of other plants that you may want to incorporate into your own backyard. When the garden centers open back up, you’ll have a photo to refer to as you’re shopping for plants.
Step outside and listen to the birds. I have lots of birds near me and I love trying to identify them by their different calls. I’m noticing the order of some of the different bird calls. It’s like a beautiful conversation among friends.
Enjoy every aspect of the meal
If you’re having a delicious meal, savor the flavors and the aroma. Enjoy each mouthful. Make the meal last and if you’re lucky enough not to be living alone, enjoy conversation with that person.
Give yourself grace
We are all affected by this crisis some people more than others. Give yourself grace by acknowledging your feelings. Name whatever it is that you’re feeling. I believe that when we identify and acknowledge our feelings they are easier to deal with. When your thoughts become cluttered with all the what ifs control the clutter by practicing mindfulness and being present in what you are currently doing. Then be kind to yourself and to those around you as we are all going through this challenging time together.
Reach out to me if you’re interested in creating a schedule for yourself and learning more about the rule of three or mindfulness. I’d be honored to talk with you.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization.