Reducing mental clutter: A simple guide to clearer thoughts

The average person has around 6,000 distinct thoughts and ideas a day. Although many of these are beneficial, others are holding you back and clouding your mind. Another name for these unhelpful thoughts? Mental clutter.

Mental clutter is made up of all the stray thoughts, worries, and lingering doubts that keep your brain from focusing on the task at hand. What makes mental clutter such an issue is that it’s self-propagating. As mental clutter builds, it becomes harder to deal with and easier for more to pile on. 

This compounding makes it all the more important to take care of mental clutter quickly and efficiently. Without proper tactics and techniques, people can find themselves paralyzed by doubts and unable to mentally perform to the best of their ability. 

This simple guide will help you learn how to recognize and deal with your mental clutter so you can get back to being the creative, productive, and successful person you are.

Common sources of mental clutter

Mental clutter can be collected anywhere in your life, but there are some common culprits you should look to avoid as much as possible.

  • Social media: This well-known source of self-doubt and distraction is best minimized or avoided altogether to keep your mind clear.
  • The news: Although it’s important to stay informed, reading the news can quickly devolve into doom-scrolling that fills your brain with all kinds of negative thoughts. 
  • Nearby noise: Take steps to reduce possible distractions in your vicinity while trying to focus. This can include turning off the TV, muting notifications, and listening to music while focusing.
  • Unfinished tasks: Nothing is quite as haunting as your to-do list, so find ways to keep this list down to stay focused.
  • Negative emotions: Whether it’s a passing bout of sadness or a bit of road rage, these negative emotions can quickly cloud your mind and distract you from your current task. 
  • Regrets: Mistakes in the past often come back to bother us in the present. Letting go of these regrets can help you reduce mental clutter.
  • Information overload: Too much info all at once leads to information overload, another major source of mental clutter.   

Every person’s mind works a little differently, so what commonly clutters your mind may differ from what’s on this list. Spend some time reflecting on what you frequently fixate on so you can identify the main sources of mental clutter in your life. 

Why reducing mental clutter is so important

Mental clutter is a form of stress, and—surprise, surprise—stress is unpleasant. When we take steps to reduce the clutter in our minds, we feel relief and a sense of calm. Who wouldn’t want that? 

But cutting down mental clutter isn’t just beneficial in the short-term. Minimizing stress helps your body and mind in the long term as well. 

Here are just a few ways that reducing mental clutter and stress can benefit you:

For all these reasons and more, everyone should be working on reducing their stress levels and clearing their mental clutter. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can start doing that today.

4 tips for clearing your mental clutter

Methods for clearing mental clutter come in all shapes and sizes. However, these four methods are the best places to start for people who want to see noticeable results. 

1. Prioritize your physical health

The mind and body aren’t completely separate entities (sorry, Descartes). By strengthening one, you give a boost to the other. 

So if you’re feeling stuck in a rut mentally, it’s never a bad idea to start working on your physical self. Some simple ways to get started include:

  • Eating a balanced, healthy diet. You don’t need to swear off chocolate cake and pizza to nourish your body. Moderation is key. Focus on eating produce, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fats for the bulk of your diet. 
  • Getting sufficient sleep: Most adults should get 7 hours of sleep a night. If you’re having a hard time hitting this number, try staying away from screens at night, avoiding caffeine, or reading before bed.  
  • Working out regularly: Physical exercise is a well-known way to improve your mental health. If you don’t have time for the gym, consider taking calls while walking or using the stairs at work.  

Oftentimes, people with mental clutter lack the mental energy to improve their mental health. Kickstarting your mind through a stronger body is a great way to prepare for these more demanding decluttering tasks. 

2. Identify stressors and create a plan to address them

Every day you’ll face a number of stressors in your life that contribute to mental clutter. You’ll have the power to remove some of these stressors from your life. However, others you’ll just need to find a way to live with. Either way, the only way forward is to deal with them head-on. 

The first step in handling your stressors is to identify which ones you have in your life. Many of these stressors will be obvious—like health problems, relationship issues, or trouble at work. However, you might be surprised by some of the stressors cluttering your mind.

To identify what’s cluttering your mind, try:

Where possible, remove identified stressors from your life. Maybe this means finding a new job or ending a bad relationship.

Other stressors won’t be so easily removed. In these cases, do your best to make a coping plan that makes them more manageable. For instance, one way you could handle stressors is to talk them over with your partner or close friend. Even just the act of identifying and talking about these problems is a powerful way to reduce stress in your life. 

3. Stay organized

Organization is a key way to reduce the anxiety and stress that clutter your mind. You don’t need to live in a spotless apartment and have your day planned to the ten-minute block, but a little less chaos will do you a world of good.

Some easy steps you can take to create a more organized life include:

All of these ideas will help you stay on top of your to-do list while limiting your overall stress levels

4. Watch out for information overload

One of the best ways to reduce the clutter in your mind is to simply consume less information during your day. Consuming too much information leads to information overload, a mental state where focusing, decision-making, and mental health suffer. 

Cutting back on the data and information you look at during your day will help you focus on what matters while keeping out what doesn’t. Some ways to reduce the information you consume include:

  • Limiting your social media time.
  • Turning off email or Slack notifications after the end of the work day.
  • Reducing the number of click-bait articles you read.

Another easy way to reduce information overload is to use an AI memory assistant, like Heyday. Our platform shows relevant articles that you’ve already read when you use search engines, so you don’t need to keep a million tabs open. 

chrome browser, heyday search assistant

Or, you can use our memory assistant platform to store articles you’ve read in your own personal knowledge base. This feature makes it easy to find information, so you don’t need to wear your brain out digging through the internet. 

Reduce your mental clutter with these resources

Mental clutter is an issue that affects us all to some extent. If you find it hard to focus on what’s most important in your life, make today the day you start decluttering your mind.

However, mental clutter isn’t the only issue facing modern workers today. Learn more in the articles below.

Declutter your mind

AI memory assistants are a great way to lighten your mental load. Try Heyday, free for 14 days, so you can see just how much a memory assistant can help you declutter your mind.

Josh Chapman

Content marketer who specializes in SEO-optimized articles for SaaS companies.