There are two main types of clutter :
- The physical clutter, which corresponds to all the items that are taking up physical space in your life.
- The mental clutter which can be anything that is on your mind that stops you from functioning at 100%.
They both go hand in hand because they impact each other in various ways. A lot of mental clutter can lead to having a large amount of physical clutter and in the same fashion, a hefty amount of physical clutter could cause an increase of mental clutter. For example, those numerous tasks on your mind might manifest themselves through a messy desk. Likewise, a messy desk could distract you from the task you are currently doing because some of the items on your desk might be putting your mind off track.
Furthermore, your mental clutter weighs you down just as much as the physical clutter does, if not more. It stops you from thinking clearly, it inhibits your ability to focus and as I just mentioned, a cluttered mind can also embody itself through a chaotic living area.
The tasks we must complete, thinking of how others judge us, the past and the future are four things that clog up a considerable part of your mental space and stop you from being at your best.
Here’s how you can clear these four worries and thoughts so you can get rid of that mental clutter and start thinking clearly:
- Achieve closure with the tasks you must complete. Either complete the tasks right away or schedule another time when you can do the tasks if they can’t be completed now.
- Everyone else also has their own problems and worries so they probably aren’t constantly judging you. More and more of us live in heavily populated, diverse urban areas where people are more individualistic than ever. This means that thinking of how other people can judge you is quite useless because the people who you think are judging you are actually too busy worrying about how others are perceiving them. In individualistic societies all our attention is focused on the self. Thus, the person who is judging you the most is yourself, so stop doing it. And if someone ever does judge you, tell yourself that it is out of your control and that you will not spend time worrying about something that you have no control over.
- Get comfortable with your past. Look at your past right in the eyes until you starting getting comfortable with it. It might take time to realize this, but your past is part of who you are. There are a few ways to deal with the past. You can feel regret (which is completely normal by the way). Regret is the emotional reaction that ties us to the past. It is also a form judgement which ties in with point #2. You can also try to forget and sweep your past under the proverbial rug. Instead of those two options, try to embrace all of your past including your mistakes and try learn to from them. That might sound cliché, but trust me, it is very hard to focus on something when your mind is still trudging in the trenches of the past.
- There is no need to worry about the future if your are living in the moment. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t plan for the future. But worrying about the uncertainty of the future is quite pointless, especially for the Stoics, since they thought there was a predetermined order of events. On the other hand, making the most of the present can change your future for the better.