The Art of the Mental Declutter: 3 Tips On How To Marie-Kondo Your Mind
Aside from the plethora of carefully curated Pinterest boards, Instagram hashtags and GIFs on #sparkingjoy, there’s another reason why the KonMari method is so addictive. Cleaning your physical spaces, be it at home or at work, functions like a metaphor for getting yourself (and your life in general) organised.
Considering how much information each of us consumes on a daily basis with 24/7 news channels, infinite-scrolling social media feeds, work emails, group text notifications, and so on, it’s no wonder that we end up feeling frazzled, mentally scattered, and overloaded so often.
The more cluttered and haphazard our thoughts are, though, the harder it is to think clearly and focus. When your desk is a huge mess, for example, you end up only using a little of the space you actually have. It’s the same with your mind; without decluttering your thoughts, you’re failing yourself by allowing your mind to operate superficially.
In other words, you get more easily distracted, feel stressed more easily, and get creative mental blocks much more often. Ultimately, you end up just mechanically going through the motions on a daily basis instead of engaging purposefully and meaningfully with your work and with those around you.
Just as we put so much importance on decluttering our physical spaces and keeping only the things that spark joy, it’s critical to engage regularly in mental decluttering. Here are 3 tips on how to KonMari your mind.
1. Schedule quiet time
Silence is seriously underrated. We’re all used to being in noisy environments: open offices, roaring MRT tracks, the din of a hundred lunchtime conversations at cafes, hawker centres, malls and restaurants. What we often underestimate, though, is the detrimental effect of non-auditory noise.
Digital noise and mental noise, for instance, can really derail your thought processes and prove to be one of the most powerful means of distraction for so many of us. Yet we simply accept these as part and parcel of our modern lifestyles.
The reality is that scheduling quiet time for yourself isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article, for instance, advocated that “the busier you are, the more you need quiet time.” These periods of silence are what allow for good ideas and high-quality work to germinate, take root, and come into fruition.
It’s not just about shutting out noise from your environment, though; it’s also about shutting out the white noise in your own mind.
Quiet time doesn’t have to take huge chunks out of your daily schedule. Here are a few simple ways to do it:
Spend 10-15 minutes in the morning to centre yourself: think of what you’re grateful for today and prioritise and align your tasks for the day, whether it’s work-related or not
Designate 1 day each week as your “weekly self-evaluation” day to check in with yourself mentally, emotionally, and hold yourself accountable to your goals at work and in life
Consider a digital detox
Try 10-minute meditation or mindfulness practices every day
2. Train yourself to resist distraction
One of the biggest obstacles to mental clarity is distraction. The more distractible we are, the harder it is to focus on any one thing, and the more we tend to overwork our minds. Between all of that task-switching and flitting between different tasks, the brain has a hard time keeping up.
It gets used to running perpetually in the background, making it harder to fall asleep and rest properly when we need to, and it also tends to absorb and store more information than it needs to without throwing anything out.
For the vast majority of us, multitasking and excessive phone habits are often the biggest culprits of distraction. Without cutting out these two habits, mental decluttering is an uphill task, because the moment you clear your mind, it fills up just as quickly, almost making your efforts redundant.
3. Process negativity without succumbing to it
#GoodVibesOnly doesn’t really exist in the real world. As much as we’d like to, relentless positivity isn’t possible, nor is it really healthy. Negativity, when kept in check, can be helpful in pushing you forward. The difficulty, though, is managing that negativity instead of letting it take over you, especially if you are your own worst critic.
So much of the noise in our heads comes down to pure negativity, whether it’s self-doubt, anxiety, unproductive envy, excessive worry, perfectionism, or otherwise. In these situations, pretending that you’re not feeling negative doesn’t help; it may even exacerbate the situation.
Instead, take the time to pause and reflect on where that negativity is stemming from, and why it’s persisting. Doing this makes it easier to reframe the negatives into positives. Otherwise, let it go and don’t keep going back to it; focus your mental energy on creating new things, and on moving forward productively.
It may take some practice and a good dose of emotional intelligence and self-awareness to do this, but dealing with negativity this way helps you to process negativity without enslaving yourself to it.