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How to Declutter Your Mind to Boost Productivity

Do you often feel overwhelmed, forgetful or just utterly confused? If yes, that could be the sign that your minds needs decluttering. Just like a cupboard, our minds need to be cleaned up from time to time to get rid of unnecessary mental baggage. A clear mind is crucial to stay focused and productive.

Here are 7 useful tips to declutter your mind and get that productivity boost:

1. Declutter Your Office Space
Physical clutter in your desk, office, cupboards can lead to mental clutter. Cluttered space forces our brain to work overtime to remember where things are. Not only that, physical clutter signals to the brain that there’s always something else that needs to be done, which is mentally exhausting. Start with clearing up your desk space. Try to get rid of unneeded paperwork and keep only your laptop, smartphone and essential items on top of your desk. Give every item a "home" and try to always return them to their home after you finish using it. As you declutter your physical space, you’ll discover that your mind is also decluttered.

2. Declutter Your Digital Files
If you're like me, sometimes your computer's desktop can be filled with hundred files at once which can be unnerving to your brain. Go through the files in your computer and move unnecessary files into trash. Organize the important ones into folders. Photos can be uploaded cloud storage, such as Google Photos, that will automatically organized them based on date, location or person.
It's also a good practice to set a time to handle your email inbox, such as every morning and after lunch. Don't handle emails as they arrive as that would pose a distraction towards the task you're doing. Every month, take a time to go through your email and unsubscribe from newsletters and promotional emails that are no longer relevant to you.

3. Put Routine Decisions on Auto-Pilot
Small, routine tasks such as deciding what to eat and what to wear can occupy a lot of brain space. You can reduce the amount of brain space that’s taken up by these routine tasks by putting them on auto-pilot. Here are some examples you can implement:

  • Wear a work "uniform" - Steve Jobs does this, he wore the same pair of clothes every day.
  • Prepare meal for the upcoming week every Sunday
  • Put your bill payment on autodebit
    Get as many small, routine tasks as you can out of your head by setting them on automatic.

4. Write It Down.
You don’t need to keep everything stored in your brain. Write down important information or ideas in notes app in your smartphone and record appointments in calendar app. This way, all the information are organized and easy to find when you need it. Writing down will also help you remember things better.

5. Stop Multi-Tasking
Research shows that multitasking is really ineffective. Not only it's slowing you down, multitasking actually hurts your memory and increase the likelihood of errors. Make an effort to tackle one task at a time until it's complete. Close the door or mute notifications on your phone to allow you to focus on the task at hand. If your attention starts drifting, typically after 20 minutes or so, you may switch to another task. Leave a note to remind you of your progress with the first task so you know what to continue upon return.

6. Prioritize
Nothing creates as much brain clutter as an endless to-do list. Accept that you can’t do it all, and choose to focus on the things which are most important to you. Make a short list of your top priorities, and make sure that the bulk of your brain space is devoted to the things on that list.

7. Learn to Meditate
In essence, meditation is learning to focus the mind completely on the present moment. When you learn how to place all of your attention on one thing —such as your breath– all other thoughts disappear. It’s almost the equivalent of taking your mind through a car wash, and having useless and unnecessary thoughts washed away.

The key is not only to do these tips once but to practice them regularly. Once they become a habit, your mind will feel clearer and you can approach your jobs with increased vigor. Happy working!