Can clearing mental clutter lead to increased productivity? Experts say yes! And so do I.
Happiness is a choice, and so is clutter. It is a bad habit to get into, but like most habits, you can change it or eliminate it.
When you walk into your clutter-free home and sit at your clutter-free desk, you will not be distracted by “things I need to do” or “stuff that needs to be put away” or other tasks that get in the way of you moving ahead in your life. You will be present in the moment!
This post was originally published June 17th, 2017 and has been updated to be current with new information. This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure is here.
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What Is Mental Clutter?
Mental clutter is that list of things to do where none of the items are checked off. Mental clutter is unfinished projects, incomplete tasks, unmade beds, and not dealing with a clogged drain.
Every time you start something, you have some basic desire to finish it.
When you don’t, you create mental clutter. Because somewhere in the back of your mind you know that you should finish that project.
Your brain wants to check that task off of your list. Your brain wants you to keep that promise to yourself.
How Do I Clear Mental Clutter?
I once read that your office surroundings are a reflection of your mind. This is not true in all cases, but if you are the only one using your office and it is cluttered and disorganized then this may be causing trouble with your posting schedule and your idea factory- your mind.
Clutter, especially mental clutter, works against our productivity.
If you have lots of little things getting in the way of your big ideas, maybe a little housekeeping is in order!
Clear Your Desk/Office.
The first step for all of us website owners and bloggers is to clear away the clutter from our desks!
Get rid of all those scraps of paper and wayward sticky notes. Grab a notebook or planner and tape them inside, putting relevant ideas together. Label the pages “great ideas” or “things to do” and sort out what needs doing.
If you have a lot of things to do, ask yourself why?
Are you procrastinating? Again, why?
Many times, procrastination is our way of protecting ourselves from things that we fear, or we feel overwhelmed by the task.
Start small, with one area.
I find that tidying up has a kind of snowball effect, and that once I get one area done, it is easy to move on to the next.
Do you get too many emails? Take a work day to do your unsubscribing; delete folders, empty the junk mail, and answer some mail. Feel free to clear the cache and dump temporary files.
You may be surprised by how much a tidy work area helps to motivate you!
Organize your calendar and create a posting schedule. Consider writing four posts in a row and then publishing once a week to free up time later.
Pick days that are dedicated to research, and others dedicated to writing/publishing.
Clearing things from your to-do list will help improve productivity.
Clear Your Dining Table
Do you drop your mail off on the kitchen table? Is it a repository for general clutter, like travel mugs and lunch bags?
A table is a small area, but clearing it can equal massive benefits. Just looking at an area that is normally untidy and having it clear and ready for its original purpose can be very freeing.
Try to clear your table at least once a day, and preferably in the evening, so that it is tidy when you get up in the morning.
After it is tidy, set out some candlesticks and/or place mats as an encouragement to use this area for what it was intended for.
Or consider selling it and using the space for something more practical. Not everyone likes to eat at a table.
My favorite YouTuber for tidying up is Dana K White from A Slob Comes Clean. Here is a super helpful video on cleaning up a “catch-all” spot.
PS. You don’t need to have read her book to be able to use her helpful tips!
Clear Your Bedroom
Try to create the habit of removing clutter in your bedroom at least once a week.
Do you have exercise equipment that is being used to hold your laundry? If you are not using the exercise equipment, consider selling it or giving it to someone you know will use it.
You don’t have to keep it if your reasons for having it have changed.
If your closet is overflowing and contains clothes that are hopelessly out of date, take a few hours to “prune” it.
Are you using it? If the answer is yes, keep it.
If the answer is no, give it away.
You will feel better if you put everything away that you are keeping, or preparing a box of items to give away.
If you have never tidied your clothes with the help of Marie Kondo, here is a quick video tutorial.
Ladies: consider the French way of dressing by purchasing a few key items every season and just wearing them over and over.
If you buy quality clothing, and take care with how they are cleaned, you can have a classic wardrobe that lasts for many years.
And you always look in style!
Giving Things Away to Help Others
If you can no longer use something and it is just taking up space, consider giving it away. Thrift stores are always in need of more, I know that I always feel good dropping off a box of stuff that someone else can use.
You do not have to keep things “just because”; just because it was a wedding gift, just because my late aunt gave it to me when I was 12, just because I have had it forever.
Take pictures of items, put the photos in a scrap book (online or physical) and then give the item away.
If you feel nostalgic, look at the photos and remember the good times. If you cannot bring yourself to throw away something sentimental, leave that pile for last.
Or just keep the item! If it matters to you, keep it.
Also, learn to say no when people try to give you their clutter.
I have friends and family members who think nothing of dropping off things that they think I might like because they got a good deal on it, or someone gave it to them and they cannot use it, or….
Not anymore. Now I just say “No, thank you”. Sometimes I have to say it twice, but it gets easier every time you do it.
Do what makes you happy. For many of us, living with less accomplishes that. And if we’re more productive then it’s a win-win.
Keep the things that add value to your life, but be able to differentiate these from mundane items you are keeping because you always have.
Successful blogging has a lot to do with putting the most effort into revenue generating tasks. Those tasks are easier to accomplish when you are organized and stress-free…as much as possible.
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8 thoughts on “Clearing Mental Clutter to Increase Productivity”
Hi Irma, I love how your posts always give me small but good tips.
I just got rid of all unneeded stuff on my office table. It is true, it already feels better. My desk is already small but when it has to serve as a storage for my kid and wife and me it’s definitely time to clear it.
Hi Stefan and thank you for stopping by today!
Yes, when I am having trouble concentrating on writing, I dont have to look far to find some clutter. Tidying just seems to help, but of course so does a list of writing topics lol.
Thank you for this post. I especially have the issue of having to much clutter in my mind. Now that I have been starting my own internet enterprise, I keep having thoughts and ideas popping in my head. Any ideas how to resolve this issue? I do ok with my surroundings by cleaning a little bit a day. I make it a point to clean at least one room in my house each day. I look forward to seeing more advice on being organized.
Hi Andrew, and thank you for visiting and your question.
I have a couple of ideas for you; I hope one inspires you. The first is getting outside into nature. Going for a walk amongst the trees, walking in the grass with your shoes and socks off, or sitting by water (a lake, ocean, or river depending on where you live). Give yourself time to sit and reflect on the awesome power of nature! Listen to waves, walk along the shore allowing the water to wash over your feet…basically getting back to how people used to spend their time when they were hunter/gatherers.
The other is meditating. There are lots of free videos on youtube. What you are aiming for here is to get in touch with your intuition, that still small voice inside of you that guides YOU. You know when you feel inspired to do something, and you do it and everything goes very well? That is following your intuition.
If either of those does not help, I have a post called “Success is a state of Mind“, where I have links to Brad Yates EFT (tapping) which can be used to clear out negative thinking. I use this most days for a variety of reasons. Brad has over 600 videos on youtube, so there is bound to be a helpful video for all occasions.
And I also use the Kelly Howell subliminal mp3 for Success, Manifesting Prosperity, and Positive Thinking. I find that they really start to work at around the 3-week mark. I listen to them on a loop using the music app on my phone (with earbuds) while I sleep! I wake up with lots of good ideas for all aspects of my life, but especially ideas for blog posts!
People should realize that acquiring effective de-cluttering habits takes discipline and good organization skills. I think many of us fail at tydying (my wife and I included!) because we don’t understand how similar learning de-cllutteriing habits are to learning new habits. It is so much like a discipline, in fact, that one of the world’s premier organizing consultants, japanese author and entrepreneur, Marie Kondo, has developed a revolutionary method of organizing known as the KonMari Method. Basically, this method teaches you how to gather together everything you own, one category at a time, and then making the effort to keep only those things that “spark joy”. Choosing a location for proper storage of selected items is an essential part of this method. Like many japanese arts and traditions, this method is a way of life; a state of mind. For the average home administrator, keeping tabs on tydiness and organization can be a real challenge, more so if you don’t have anyone to help you. Whenever you decide that you have had enough with clutter, then know that just like any project, habit or endeavor that is worth achieving, having a tidy, organized living or working space will require your full attention and commitment.
Hi Luis, and thank you for your comments!
I agree, and I did read Marie Kondo’s book when it first came out. I had already been decluttering my home, and I learned more about organizing my dressers thanks to Marie! I have felt so much freer since I got rid of some of my household baggage, and now we keep a box by the front door for things we are giving away to the thrift store.
Love this post! I am a big fan of minimalistic living- quality over quantity. NO CLUTTER! It feels SO GOOD to have everything organized, free from clutter… the things that I keep around me I love. This post is great I look forward to reading more posts on your site 🙂
Hi Andrea, and thank you!
Yes, there is much to be said for minimalist living! I feel so happy and positive, now that about 70% of my clutter is gone! My home feels larger, and it is also less to think about!