When we hear the word clutter, we automatically think of stuff. We think of extra things in our homes just sitting around, overflowing from shelves and drawers. And that type of clutter is very real in our lives.

Clutter is anything that interferes with living a balanced life and adds stress and drains your energy.

Things like mental clutter.

And emotional clutter.

Just as our physcial clutter can hinder our actions in our lives, so can mental and emotional clutter.

These two are somewhat intertwined. This post we’ll talk about the mental clutter and the next post will be on the emotional clutter.

What is mental clutter?

Mental clutter is the list that is constantly running in your head. It is the things that you feel like you need to get done, as well as all the other nagging little things that you THINK you should get to. We play those tapes constantly in our heads.

For the everyday stuff that you do need to keep up with, find whatever tool works best for you to corral all those “things”. Whether it is an actual notebook, a list on your phone, a task list like Todo, or Evernote, find someway to help you get those things out of your brain and onto paper so you can stop worrying that you are forgetting something.

A lot of times this mental clutter is caused by avoiding MAKING a decision, or being torn between two choices. Or it could be plain ol’ procrastination.

Indecision just delays the inevitable. By deciding to go ahead and make the decision, as difficult as it may be, you rid yourself of the weight of the indecision. Think of the last time you finally made a decision you had been putting off, how much better you felt.

Sometimes the weight of the procrastination is actually heavier than the consequences of the decision. Do yourself a favor, and make that decision you’ve been putting off.

Many times the mental clutter can leave us feeling overwhelmed.  To overcome this, learn to trust your instincts, forge ahead and make a decision. Even if you make a mistake, it can be a learning experience, and can continue to move you forward.

One way to reduce the mental clutter is by doing a brain dump.

Another type of mental clutter are the unfinished projects that are hanging over you.

Each of these unfinished projects in an open loop in your life. David Allen author of Getting Things Done, talks about how having this open loops in our lives can be exhausting and overwhelming mentally. He encourages you to close your loops as soon as possible.

Finish a project or give yourself permission to NOT finish it and let it go. It is okay to admit that you can’t or don’t want to finish something you have begun. What may have been important in the beginning is no longer a top priority.

I love Peter Walsh from Oprah’s show, and he has a book on this topic. I have not read it yet, but it looks right on target!