4 Ways to Declutter Your Mind

UPDATED: May 27, 2024
PUBLISHED: March 27, 2017

In our world today, it’s easier than ever to be unfocused. So many people are attracted to their distractions, staring at their phones and allowing crazy stuff to fly into their brains in a steady stream of clutter.

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If you really, truly want to achieve your biggest goals, it’s so important that you work hard on decluttering your mind. Here are four ways to do that.

1. Focus.

What you focus on grows. That is an absolute fact. So do a real inventory. Be aware of what’s going on inside your brain.

People today are trying their absolute best to be aware of what they eat—probably more so than at any point in my lifetime. They want organic choices and they want healthy food. But at the same time, they’re allowing so much junk into their minds.

Look at something going into your mind the same way you look at something going into your stomach. What are you spending your time on? Are you spending all day staring at the news, feeling like the world’s going to hell in a handbasket? Do you follow 87 million people on Twitter so that every second you’re digesting random thoughts from some crazy stranger?

Be careful what you’re allowing into your brain. Focus on what you’re inputting.

2. Tune out the noise.

Just as important as what you listen to is what you don’t listen to. Look at all the things coming your way and ask yourself, Is this really doing anything for me or making my life better? If the answer is no, then stop getting it. Don’t let it into your brain.

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Being quiet is incredibly important. I believe everybody needs quiet time—meditation time, reading time, prayer time. Everybody needs a sanctuary, a place they can go to just be quiet, be still and just be. To think about what you’re thinking about. To ask yourself, What can I tune out?

3. Control your activities.

Everyone is busy, but are they getting anything done? What are you spending your time on?

Don’t mistake activity for progress. It’s easy to be busy. It’s easy to be overwhelmed. It’s easy to have people pull you in too many different directions. But the question is this: Are those things moving you toward a worthy, long-term goal? You need to look at where you want to get to, what it is you want to accomplish, what you want to do in your life. Then you need to be honest about whether your activity and actions are congruent with reaching that thing. If they’re not, make a change. Spend time on the activities that will help your overall progress and growth.

4. Keep it simple.

I heard Nick Saban, the head football coach at the University of Alabama, speak one time, and he said the one thing he constantly asks himself is, What’s the most important thing right now for the continued success of my program? And is that what I’m doing? He checks in daily with himself to make sure he’s not wasting time on things that have nothing to do with what’s important now.

Keep it simple and focused. You must eliminate silly distractions, anything that pulls you from that main thing.

To me, the most successful people are the most focused on singular, straightforward goals. They are the people who are very good at rising above the noise and getting clear in their head about what it is they want to accomplish. They don’t allow life and all its noise to overwhelm them. They don’t let negative, frustrated, whiny people control how they think. They focus on keeping the main thing the main thing.

With these steps, you’ll start to get rid of that clutter in your mind that’s keeping you from getting where you want to go. You can get there. But you’re in charge of how you do it.

John Addison is the Leadership Editor for SUCCESS and the author of Real Leadership: 9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living with Purpose, a Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller. Renowned for his insight and wisdom on leadership, personal development and success, John is a sought-after speaker and motivator. Read more on his blog, and follow John on Facebook and Twitter.