How Decluttering Your Mind will Reduce Stress and Declutter Your Life
One of the things I regularly have to check myself for is clearing the noise out from my mind. As a partner, mom and working lady there are countless distractions at any given time. I have found decluttering your mind will not only reduce stress but declutter your life.
Personality type and decluttering your mind
I identify most with a 7 (The Enthusiast) on the Enneagram. If you’re unfamiliar with the Enneagram, it’s a system that identifies your personality type based on a series of questions. Results are ranked from which personality type you identify with most to least. The results show patterns in how people interpret the world and manage their emotions.
Here is the breakdown of a 7 taken from my test results at the Enneagram Institute:
- Generally, Sevens are excitable, spontaneous, curious, optimistic, eager, outgoing, future-oriented, adventurous, variety-seeking, quick, and talkative.
- Sevens get into conflicts by being scattered, distracted, restless, impatient, thrill-seeking, escapist, over-extended, irresponsible, demanding, and excessive.
- At their best, Sevens are appreciative, bountiful, thoughtful, accomplished, versatile, receptive, grateful, content, quiet, and passionate.
If this doesn’t describe me, I don’t know what does. I come from a long line of a stubborn, animated and excitable crew. While majority of a time, I use this to my advantage, it can certainly create unnecessary noise and clutter in my mind.
My story and how it will help you declutter your mind
From the time I was a little girl, I’ve always had big dreams. The sky has always been the limit. No dream was too big to accomplish.
I come from a traditional family and grew up living the American dream. I was an outgoing and adventurous little girl who always believed in the fairytale life. I always knew and believed I was going to change the world with my superpowers.
When I started college at the age of 18, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. The thought of having to choose my destiny from a predetermined list of careers made me feel very caged in. the 7 was coming out in me before I even knew what it meant.
Eventually after many conversations, switching my major several times and testing at OSU, I landed on a degree in Communications Technologies. I felt like everything made sense once I landed here. It was a degree with the perfect combination of the social side of communication and technology that I loved diving into and figuring out.
An unusually cruel beginning of my adult life
Upon graduating from college I found myself pregnant, laid off and in the middle of the great recession in 2009. While everything felt like it was coming together in college, everything had fallen apart upon graduating.
I’d often ask myself, was this what the beginning of my adult life should be like? Should I really be fighting over $10 an hour jobs with other recent graduates? How will I bring a baby into this mess, let alone afford to? I was making more while in college without a degree.
I ended up landing a $10 an hour job five months into my pregnancy. Five months of interviewing while telling everyone I was pregnant was not fun.
I remember my first day of work. The first day of 40 hours per week of corporate hell. Was this my destiny? Was this what I’d be doing for the rest of my life? Chained to a desk while punching a clock and asking permission to take a break? Yikes. No thank you.
The turning point to declutter my mind
After I had both children a few years into my career, I made a decision I was not going to go after the career I wanted, helping people better themselves and their lives. I was done having children and could focus on how I could make an impact while making an income.
After having my children I was three years into my working adult life. I knew I had to focus all my attention onto caring for babies and my family. So up until this point, I went through the motions all while feeling unfulfilled at work.
My mind was all over the place because the traditional career routes seemed so limited. There was no other option. I knew I didn’t want to do either but wasn’t sure where to start.
I felt super discouraged and unsure of where to start looking for my next move but was determined to create my own path.
Cluttering up my mind
I began researching what other people were doing while knowing I wanted to help people in some way. I went deep into the research…and I mean deep.
Without realizing it, the hours turned into days, days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and months turned into years. I was so desperate to find answers I didn’t realize I was only making things worse and not better.
I was caught in the research trap and my mind was so cluttered with noise my life felt all over the place. I was no further ahead than where I was a few years prior. I only had a couple more promotions in unfulfilling jobs at work to show for it.
From the outside looking in, I had the picture perfect life. The family, the house, the cars, you name it, I had it. On the inside, my mind was a mess. I’m talking – I don’t know how I functioned at work – a mess.
I tried to launch several businesses hoping one would feel right and fulfill me. But everytime I tried something new, it was only a temporary high until the excitement would wear off and the crickets would start singing their songs.
I think I had somewhere around seven business attempts by the time I was done with it (there’s that 7 again!)
There I was, with notebooks full of notes and ideas, countless websites bookmarked promising me they would “figure” me out and a mind so cluttered I felt nothing but frustrated.
What helped me declutter my mind
I spent so much time searching for my “why” I had forgotten what was at the root of it. After reading a few self help books I picked out a few essential recurring trends I noticed to help declutter my mind.
1. I started analyzing my habits
One of the first things I did was start looking at my habits. I started small with analyzing what I did on a daily basis from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. This involved things like:
- What I was eating and drinking
- What I was watching on TV
- What I was working on
- How I was running the family schedule at home
I started to immediately notice things that were time wasters. I saw trends in things I was doing that were actually distractions, vs actions. I felt like I was being productive but was actually just staying busy or entertaining my mind.
2. I changed my inputs
I made gradual changes to remove things that weren’t serving what I wanted to do. I did things like this:
- I removed some TV time and replaced it with books on the topic that aligned with my goals/purpose
- I started waking up earlier and created a morning routine that involved repetition of good habits like drinking water, eating right, reading, meditating and level setting my day
- I incorporated exercise into my schedule, even if it just meant going for a mid-day walk
- I scheduled out work blocks based on goals I had set
3. I created routine to declutter my mind
As mentioned above, I got into the habit of daily routine, even if it was the weekend. I made sure I was still waking up at the same time. I practiced consistency in everything I was doing, whether I wanted to or not.
4. I found the right people to help
This one is huge. As my honey always says “everybody needs somebody.”
Often times we’re so caught up in whatever the issue is, we can’t fix it ourselves. We need someone else to jump in with an outside view to call out where we’re struggling and help fix it.
Jeff (my honey) has spent his whole career on strategy and continuous improvement work in various executive roles. I pulled him in to help identify inefficiencies in what I was doing and create a plan that would work.
I also hired brand management consultants to coach and help revamp and revise my outward appearance to the world to drive hard on my mission and goals.
These are just two examples of people who helped me but having a coach is super important and helpful when it comes to holding yourself accountable and achieving your goals.
5. I took action to declutter my mind
I got to work! After I was able to declutter my mind, I started taking action. In my case, it was a combination of practicing new daily routines and habits, working on goals that were established through the process above and staying consistent.
Even if it was the weekend I paid attention to everything I did and if it wasn’t serving my goals, I ditched it.
It’s easy to take action, but if it’s the wrong action you will never declutter your mind and will always end up everywhere all at once.
Summary – Decluttering your mind
It took me years to understand having a clutter free mind is the foundation to accomplish any goals you set for yourself. You have to be purposeful and planful in your actions.