How To Clear Your Mind

How To Clear Your Mind

Earlier this year I ran a series of posts on decluttering. Finding homes for things, sorting items, moving stuff out of the house always make me feel more in control and less weighed down.

In this guest post today it looks at how you can declutter your mind to allow space for ideas and calm.  I know at times when I feel overwhelmed it is generally because I am trying to keep too much in my head.

The post is from Ciara Conlon and she takes us through some practical steps on how to make clearing your mind part of your weekly routine. Ciara is a Productivity Coach and blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a practical guide to getting things done.

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“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them” David Allen

I’m a busy woman, I run a business, I have a blog, I am writing my second book and I have three boys and a husband.

My time is scarce, but somehow I achieve all the things I want to achieve and still make sure there is time for the people I love. How I do it I’m sure you want to know? I do it by scheduling time for everything. I identify all that I want to achieve and then I decide which items are priorities and when they need to get done.

As you might have guessed it doesn’t always run to plan and sometimes I get overwhelmed and stressed and can’t figure how I will fit it all it. But what I have learnt over the years is that there is a way to easily get back on track.

Clear the Clutter

You all know how powerful it can be to clear the clutter from your environment. As a student I could never study until my room was tidy, somehow it interfered with my focus to have an untidy environment. Feng Shui experts will tell you that Clutter is stagnant energy. Barbara Hemphill organizational expert describes Clutter as postponed decisions. But clearing your environment won’t be enough to eliminate your overwhelm and get everything done that needs to be done. The most important step is to clear the mind.

Clear the Mind

When you have a lot to do, are you guilty of storing these tasks in your head? Or do you make notes in different places to remind you to collect the dry cleaning, to bring one of the children to a party or to buy a gift for a friend? All of the many tasks and jobs you need to do racing around in your head causing more stress and overwhelm. What you will have experienced if you rely on your mind to remember everything is that you will drop the ball from time to time. Even when they are not life threatening tasks like buying milk, it can still disrupt your day if you forget to do it. The more you keep in your head the more likely it is that you will forget something important which could have negative repercussions in your life.

Mind Sweep

A powerful practise called a Mind Sweep can avoid any of these negative outcomes by allowing you to get everything out of your head and organize it into a more reliable system. A Mind Sweep is an exercise where you get a pen and paper and write down everything you need to do. This could be a project in work that needs completion, a holiday that needs to be planned, a room that has to be redecorated or a button that has to be sewed onto your trousers. Write down all tasks big or small. Keep writing like a brainstorming session, don’t categorise or think too much, just get it out of your head and down on paper. When you have finished, then you can organise the tasks so that they will get done.

Productivity Systems

Put all the tasks that need to be completed on a particular time or date in your calendar or diary. All other tasks can be put into a task management system. There are many pieces of software for task management. If you work with a smart phone there are many of apps such as Remember the Milk or Toodledo that can look after your tasks, but if you prefer you can always use a paper based tasks list.  What matters is that you keep all of your tasks in the one place and that you stick to the one system.

Maintain the Calm Control

When you have completed this exercise you will find a sense of peace and calm which you will want to maintain. I recommend you do this by doing a mind sweep once a week. If you do this your mind won’t get overloaded and if you do it regularly it won’t be as big a task as the first time. Clearing the mind will allow you to get more done but it will also give you a calm state of control allowing you to focus on the things that matter.

Good Luck!

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How to clear your mindYou can find more about Ciara’s book Chaos to Control here. Ciara also runs workshops and coaches clients in the area of personal productivity and workflow. You can sign up for her free newsletter and receive 2 Free Chapters from the book and also a free copy of her eBook Clear the Clutter – Find Your Life which has tips to remove physical or mental clutter from your life.

How do you go about clearing your mind?

Comments

  1. says

    Hey Ciara,

    I’ve been doing Mind Sweeps but didn’t know they were called that! Sometimes I have to get all that stuff swimming around in my mind out and onto dry land. I feel relieved and much more able to handle the list of tasks.

    Thanks for a great post!

  2. Kym says

    Thanks Nicole for sharing Ciara’s post. I also do Mind Sweeps (although I didn’t know that was what they were called until now) but not once a week, more like once a quarter. Feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment so this post came at a great time. Off to go do a Mind Sweep! My problem is finding a task management system that suits me. I haven’t found one yet that meets my creative and logical needs. Any suggestions?

    • says

      I still love a written to do list for the general mind sweep. Like the one pictured above which is divided into 4 different areas. My main planning tool is then google docs spreadsheets where I keep my lists of things to do per projects in different files.

      I am going to check out the app that @Sarah recommends though as I do love a good app!

    • says

      Hi Kym, as I suggested to Amit, Evernote is a fantastic tool for keeping all your tasks and for note taking too. Many creative people use it for storing all ideas, Tim Ferris used it for writing “The Four Hour Body”. If you are familiar with GTD check out the website “The Secret Weapon” for how to use Evernote with GTD. If you don’t know what GTD is, you could check out Daniel Goldman’s eBook on Evernote. Alternatively buy a nice notebook and use it everyday! :) Good Luck

  3. says

    I use an app called Things to do my mind sweeps! but I have to admit my inner child rebels against the organization so I still find myself scrawling notes or making lists on papers sometimes. But every couple of days I ‘sweep’ all that together and put it into things. It’s a great way to clear the mind and focus on the task at hand. i agree.

    @Kym – Things does cost money, but i have found it to be well worth it. Evernote is another free app that is great for longer notes about things, but could be adapted as a task management system too.

  4. says

    I read about the GTD system (from which I assume mind sweeps come from) a year ago, tried out some GTD systems like Remember the Milk, but just couldn’t stick to them.

    Now I have a very basic system – a notepad doc. on my computer which lists all tasks I need to get done. This is several times better than not having the list – I can relax knowing that at the very least, I don’t have to mentally worry about forgetting a task. But I know I can do more. I probably just need to design my own system.

    • says

      HI Amit, check out Evernote, I really find it the best of all the productivity apps, I’ve tried Remember the Milk and many more and Evernote ticks all the boxes for me.

  5. says

    I did a mind sweep earlier today! It really does help to get it all out there, instead of rattling around in my brain. I’ve never tried Evernote, but it’s been popping up a lot lately, and so many of you seem to like it… It’s worth a shot!

  6. says

    I’ve read David Allen’s book Getting Things Done as well, and find clearing out my mind and getting everything down onto a central list system is fantastic for creating space in my mind. I don’t overschedule, preferring only to add essential appointments to my diary, then picking and choosing from my to do lists depending on the time, energy and motivation I have available.

  7. says

    I love this… I write about decluttering too. I plan to read your book! I have my mind-sweep info organized into spreadsheets. Whatever works best is what you can use everyday and enjoy. Creating habits to organize information takes a load off the mind, and as you say, this is a big part of overcoming the tendency to acquire clutter.

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