The Abundant Freelancer

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3 Easy Ways to Clear Out Mental Clutter

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Mental clutter has a paralyzing quality that tends to completely hinder productivity. It has a tendency to build momentum until you’re stopped in your tracks and unable to get the most important things done. It may even trick you into doing less important tasks, simply because you don’t have a clear idea on your next logical step. Starting the week with a clear head allows for greater accomplishments by Friday, so let’s dive into these 3 easy ways to clear out mental clutter.

1.   Clean Your Workspace

That’s right. In Feng Shui, physical clutter equates to mental clutter – so, when your space is cluttered, so is your mind. Clear your desk, shelves, and area immediately surrounding your workspace of all crumpled notes, stacks of paper, random pens and, above all, dust. I recently did this for my own desk and I couldn’t believe how dusty it had gotten. I was so invested in my work that I didn’t even notice the state of my desk.

This happens to all of us, and with so many projects going on throughout the week, it’s easy to see how a cluttered desk gets overlooked. Clean your workspace and see how great it feels to sit (or stand) there afterward! You’ll be much more productive and eager to work. And frankly, on Mondays, we need all the help we can get.

2.   Trim Down That To Do List

I wrote a post last week about a book called “The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, and I’ve taken a leaf or two out of it for my day to day life. One of the big ideas from this book is to focus on ONE thing at a time, rather than trying to multitask or build a to do list that’s so long, you’ll never get to the end of it.

I have multiple clients, and most of them need attention each day. I’m sure it’s the same with many tasks on your to do list. But, instead of creating a massive list of everything that needs to get done, I choose one thing to get done for each client, per day, and usually try to keep my list at no more than three major goals or projects for the day. If I have time to get more done, great – I make a new list. But if I don’t, and I only get those three tasks done, I feel awesome instead of like the bag of crap I would feel like if I took my tasks from a long list.

Now, I do have a long list as well, but it’s the list I use to choose what three things I’m going to focus on that day. I don’t look at it or think about it at all after choosing those tasks. I always choose the ones that are time sensitive first, and if there’s nothing time sensitive, I choose the ones I feel most like doing in that moment. You can apply the same principles to chores and other such things, and when you do, life gets a whole lot calmer.

3.   Get Positive

This may be the most difficult for people to do, but it is also one of the most rewarding. Getting into a positive mindset is a long game, one that you have to train yourself to do. Even if you’re generally a positive and happy person, you’ll still have some negative self-talk that keeps you held back in some way. Not creative enough? Not smart enough? Don’t have the tools? These are just some of the ways our inner dialogue keep us from achieving greater and greater things.

So how does one stop the negative self-talk? I’m not sure you do. I think your positive self-talk just becomes louder, diminishing that naysaying voice in time. What I do, personally, is this: When a thought passes by telling me that I’m somehow not enough, or that I have some colossal flaw I’ll never overcome and am a shithead for having, I stop and replace that thought with its opposite. “I am not good enough” becomes “I am good enough,” “I suck at this” becomes “I am awesome at this” – you get the idea. It’s definitely a practice, but one that is for sure worth investing your energy into.