5 Clear Ways to Remove Mental Clutter

UPDATED: May 23, 2024
PUBLISHED: July 12, 2019
mental clutter

If you don’t set clear boundaries, your personal and professional lives can become entangled. Bringing your private life into the workspace or, worse yet, bringing work home with you is dangerous. You may have difficulty deciphering between work and life, and sometimes you might not see any difference whatsoever—but there should be. Making a distinction between the two helps maintain flow and better overall mental health. It also ensures that you don’t create unnecessary mental clutter.

Mental clutter is a common symptom of the busy body and mind phenomenon of modern humans. It is thinking about work at home and vice versa, it is having trouble sleeping because your mind is constantly turning, or a lack of concentration for the plethora of disorganization. Mental clutter means you rarely, if ever, rest.

Removing mental clutter is essential if we wish to be truly satisfied. Setting boundaries does not remove freedom; as a matter of fact, it does the opposite. It bolsters our ability to transition between work and play, leaving things in their respective places. It encourages healthy boundaries between the two. It gets rid of chaos, confusion and stress. Understanding and valuing boundaries sets us up for success. When we know how to leave work stuff at work and home stuff at home, we avoid distraction, which enhances our focus tenfold.

The real secret of maneuvering between work and home exists in proper time management and reduction in emotional reactivity. The mastery of time management and non-reactivity leads to focus. When we are focused, there is no longer room for mental clutter. It slips away as naturally as a cloud floating into the stratosphere or the sun behind the horizon.

The challenge exists in equilibrium. Many call it work-life balance. However we choose to name it, keeping these two worlds separate is essential if we wish to maintain a sense of balance and enhance our mental health.

Mental clarity at home and work are within our reach. With a few modifications, we grow closer to a life that’s not only balanced but also satisfying. Start removing mental clutter today for a better tomorrow. Your entire life design will become more seamless, your quality of life will begin to feel much more enjoyable, and your mind will become razor sharp.

Here are five ways you can remove mental clutter:

1. Set boundaries.

Set clear boundaries regarding conversation topics at home and work—and stick to them. Talking about deadlines, clients, colleagues and meetings should not be dinner table conversation. Nor should the canteen be used to reveal your private life. Of course, we can share stories of work with family and home life with colleagues, but there should be limitations. Don’t let these be the only conversations; open up, branch out and let other conversations be born in those spaces.

2. Cleanse through writing.

When in doubt, write it out. Have a journal for both work and home that allows you to vent frustrations in order to maintain clear boundaries. Mental exhaustion and frustration usually occurs when our brains and bodies feel overwhelmed. By removing those feelings from inside and placing them into the outside world, your mental health automatically improves. We enrich our lives when we cleanse our mental spaces. We also open space for more activity, sharper thoughts and creativity.

3. Be mindful.

Be mindful in all activities. If you are working, keep the mind there; if you are playing, don’t think about work. Mindfulness promotes a clear mind. A mind that concentrates is a healthy mind. The distracted, overcharged, highly emotional brain reacts. What we seek is serenity, for in those spaces, we really learn to let go and clear ourselves of that which no longer serves us.

4. Be unattached.

Observe thoughts and let them float away. Many times thoughts come without warning, but the best thing to do is just notice them and watch them disappear rather than give them attention. Imagine each thought form like a cloud. Watch it enter your headspace, then allow it to fade away. Let the clouds float up or down, left or right, but know that each time a cloud enters your brain, it must also leave. Reminding ourselves that all thoughts and feelings are temporary removes attachment and alleviates the pressure of a mind full of unnecessary thoughts and feelings.

5. Create compartments.

Organize for increased productivity. A space that feels and looks clean will facilitate a more balanced lifestyle. An organized house or office indicates an organized mind. Start cleaning up the clutter, ensuring the brain will soon follow suit. If nothing else, it’s easier to work in an organized place. We save time looking for things we lost. We feel more professional. And we increase focus, which in turn augments productivity.

Related: How to Improve Your Mental Health: 9 Keys to Your Well-Being

Photo by @NickBulanovv via Twenty20

Jacklyn Janeksela, MFA, is a freelance writer and a poet. Her online self, aka that writing life, can be found here. She works for Culture Designers, Thrillist, Honey Colony, among others; her poetry is tangled on the inter-webs. Her herbal alchemy meets astrology creative business can be found here. She explores self through poetry, planets and photography @ female filet.