3 Tips to Control Clutter in Your Mind

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.

Rabbit Holes

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.

Benefits

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..’.

Get Outside

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.

8 Comments

  • Getting outside is no joke! I wish it were warmer up here, but we are having a few days that are nice. It seems to genuinely energize me to get outside, breath, look in the general direction of the sun and move around. I may tackle my garden today. It is too early for planting in this zone, but the walls of my garden beds are rotten. It won’t be a quick and easy project, but I can start measuring and considering options, right? I think just being outside and thinking about planting will lift my spirits!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Yes! Start planning those garden beds. I bet there are lots of pictures on Pinterest to help you settle on a good design. I’m lucky that it’s been sunny and warm here – easy to be and stay outside in the garden.

  • What a beautiful, compassionate post, Diane! It’s so easy for our minds to be overloaded and cluttered with “what ifs” and other messages that are not helpful right now. I suppose a certain amount of what-if is useful if a flexible plan helps us feel more in control. But going too far in the future only creates more anxiety and stress. The idea of mindful presence is essential. I’ve been formally practicing daily mindfulness meditation for several years now, and it’s one of the things that is of great comfort and help, especially now. I am newer to my yoga practice, but that too helps me with presence and connecting my mind and body in compassionate ways. And like you, I am a lover of nature. So this time of year is magical as things bloom, birds sing, and the landscape offers beautiful surprises each day.

    The time of day that is more challenging for me is the night. I fall asleep, but find that I wake up more than usual. I think that when I’m resting, my mind becomes most active. We do all that we can to settle ourselves. But these are extraordinary times. So there emotions and thoughts will be in hyperdrive at times.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Linda. I hadn’t considered night time (or waking at night) when I wrote this. I can understand how that may be when thoughts could go into overdrive. Stay healthy and well, my friend.

  • Great tips for this day and age! But, it is also helpful for when things are normal. Since I work from home most of the time, I keep my schedule every morning. I found that keeping a routine is essential to me. This limits my distractions and keeps me on track. Thanks for sharing!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Sabrina. I agree – these tips to control clutter are helpful all the time.

  • I like this Rule of Three idea – easy to get one’s head around and easy to execute (although I might have to watch myself these days on the break part!). Great a timely post!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you Sara. Using the Rule of Three is an easy way to control clutter in your mind. I’m happy to know you like the idea!