How do you declutter your mind to focus better at work?
Why is it important to declutter your mind daily?
Are you distracted, stressed or anxious at work? These are all signs of mental clutter! It's time to declutter your mind to focus better at work. Here's how by @amylynnwritingClick To Tweet
Have you ever wondered what mental clutter does to your mind? Surely you’ve noticed that you’re much less focused when your mind is preoccupied with thoughts and worries – especially when those thoughts and worries aren’t even related to your work.
Whatever the source of your distraction, it can often be rooted down to some sort of anxiety or fear.
Fear that you will not get everything done or that you aren’t good at your job.
Being fearful of embarrassment from something you did yesterday that’s lingering in the back of your mind or the fear of forgetting something important. I could seriously go on for a while with examples and I’m sure you have more than a few of your own.
Anxiety in the workplace can lead to low productivity, missed deadlines, and even giving up on your work entirely.
Decluttering your mind helps you regain focus on your tasks. By half-thinking about whatever intrusive thoughts have jumped into your mind while also trying to think about your work, you are dividing your mind between the two lines of thinking.
In this way, mental clutter and intrusive thoughts are just as damaging to productivity and work quality as is actual multitasking.
It has been demonstrated in studies that dividing the mind in this way is ineffective. Instead of giving your all to both things you are trying to simultaneously do, multitasking means you only give about 50% to each task. Your work quality will diminish. It’ll take you longer to get the work done.
So, what kinds of mental clutter often invade the mind? And how can you declutter your mind to focus better at work in those tough moments?
Types of Mental Clutter in the Workplace
Resolving both problems will be key to refocusing your mind.
Day-to-Day Life Struggles Easily Clutter the Mind
“I have to make sure that I pick up the snacks before I drop the kids off at their sports tonight. Oh, and I’ll need to grab some lettuce for tomorrow’s lunches. I wonder if there will be time to get my dry cleaning before dinner. Should I run out and grab it now? No, I should be working.”
Sound familiar? Maybe your life circumstances are a little different. Maybe you have pets instead of kids or maybe you prefer potato salad to lettuce.
The point, though, is that many of us stumble down trains of random thought mid-work without even noticing it. By the time we do notice it, we’ve already taken a few twists and turns through our mental clutter, changed subjects a couple of times, and wasted 5 to 10 minutes or more.
Oftentimes, those everyday thoughts, worries, concerns, and plans are what steal our working hours from us.
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They set us behind on projects and make us re-read the same sentence two, three, four times.
We worry about what we’re going to do later, the stupid thing we said the other day, upcoming meetings, and more.
For those of us who work from home, the distraction of dishes, laundry, and even other people can be quite tempting and very powerful at times. If you’ve ever wondered how to declutter your mind of these types of thoughts you certainly aren’t alone.
Self-Defeating Thoughts that Distract You from Work
Not only is mental clutter a distraction from your work, but it can also actually sabotage your career as it takes over your mind.
If you’ve ever felt like you aren’t cut out for the type of work it is you do, you’ve experienced the imposter syndrome. Many of us bloggers, freelancers, and solopreneurs sit behind our desks waiting for someone to discover that we don’t have what it takes; that we’ve been winging it; that we are just imposters pretending to know what we’re doing.
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As I’m sure you can guess, worrying that we aren’t good enough while we’re trying to work is very distracting. Since distraction leads to mistakes and can make it take much longer to complete a task, they only serve to reinforce the idea that you aren’t good at your job.
In that way, mental clutter from self-defeating thoughts can actually lead you to prove your thoughts right. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Worrying that you aren’t good at your job can actually cause you to not be good at your job.
How to Clear Your Mind to Regain Focus
You have to be able to control back from your wandering thoughts and your intrusive worries in order to truly focus on your work.
It can be difficult to regain focus and attention on your work once your thoughts take control.
It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole with them, chasing solutions to unrelated problems or burrowing deep in your own self-doubt. That’s why it’s important to not only know how to recognize the problem but to also learn how to actively declutter your mind in the moment.
#1. Declutter your Mind of Low Confidence
When clients want to know how to focus better at work I always ask them first, “How are you talking to yourself about your work? Describe yourself as a freelancer/blogger/entrepreneur and rate yourself out 10.”
The way they answer that question has a big impact on the way we move forward. If they seem rather confident I move on to the next phase of refocusing. If they don’t appear very confident, though, we take some time to focus on the way they speak to themselves and the kinds of intrusive thoughts that could be dominating their working mind.
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The key to declutter your mind and tackle these intrusive, negative thoughts is to confront them. In my new e-course “Unlock Your Full Potential as a Freelancer” I walk my freelancing clients through the process of identifying, discovering the cause of, challenging, and replacing their self-defeating thoughts.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how it works:
- Listen to the way you speak to yourself and identify self-defeating thoughts (especially those that interfere with your work).
- Delve into your past to see why you may have such negative beliefs about yourself.
- Collect evidence against your self-defeating thoughts and learn to challenge the negative thoughts.
- Replace self-defeating thoughts with realistic, self-promoting thoughts.
#2. Clear Your Mind with Meditation
One thing I love to suggest to clients to declutter the mind is meditation. “I’m already so busy that my worries about keeping it all together are infiltrating my work. When will I find time to meditate?”
Well, start by taking a breath right now. From here, you can just start adding more breaths next time and the time after that. Just focus on those breaths. You can even do it at your desk, though I do suggest finding a quiet, private, calming place outside of your typical workspace. If that’s not possible, you can even just try turning off the lights so that you cannot see your work as well.
Wait a minute. Am I seriously suggesting that you take your mind away from your work in order to focus on it? Does that really help declutter your mind?
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Well, yes. Training your mind to focus using meditation will go great lengths to helping you focus better while working. Infusing mini-meditations into your workday can also help you turn off those thoughts before you take that train too far and lose too much time.
Overall, meditation will make you more focused and, thus, more productive. The truth is, though, that it will take some time. Yes, you will have to sacrifice some of your working or living time to include meditation in your life. And, at first, it may not seem to do much. You will spend a little bit of time having less time than ever before.
But after it begins to work and you begin to train your mind you will find that your work is completed faster and much more thoroughly. It’s just one of those things you have to invest in to really get a benefit from.
#3. Create a Private Workspace
Working in the home is hard at the best of times. Even when your spouse, kids, or roommates are out of the house for the day, there is always a pull from somewhere in the house.
Whether it’s your bed begging you to just get a few more minutes sleep, your couch tempting you into some Netflix, or the mountain of dishes that are nearly staring you in the face, your home is filled with potential distractions and mental clutter just waiting to happen.
One way to shut those distractions and declutter your mind is to carve out a special space just for your home office.
If you have an entire room you can devote to your work, excellent. You can shut the door and leave the rest of the world behind. You can even choose to decorate your workspace differently than the rest of your house so it appears more professional and makes you feel like you aren’t even at home.
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If you’re like me, you aren’t exactly in a position to devote an entire room to your business. That’s OK. Try these tips:
- Place your desk in front of a window so you are looking outside instead of at your home.
- Build your desk into a closet so it feels like you’re in a tiny room or a cubicle away from everything.
- Use screens or curtains to segregate your office space from the rest of your home.
- Place your desk in a room without a television.
- Allot a half-hour during your lunch hour to do some of the things have been tempting you throughout the day.
Decluttering Your Mind to Focus Better at Work
Want to truly be present throughout the work day and keep your mind from wondering?
Looking for more strategies that help you declutter your mind?
Spring Clean Your Mind of Mental Clutter
Get the Spring Clean Your Mind Checklist, with 12 strategies for clearing mental clutter and welcoming positive and successful thinking.
To declutter your mind to focus better at work:
- Replacing negative, self-defeating thoughts with more positive, self-promoting ones.
- Take deep breaths and mindful meditation pauses that focus on your breathing.
- Find a private workplace where you can hide away from distractions and focus better on work.
Get started today, just breath at your desk and focus on one thought, one moment at a time.
Close the mental door on distractions and your worries, and be present in this moment.
How do you declutter your mind to focus at work?
More About Guest Contributor
Freelancing coach Amy-Lynn Denham is excited to share her knowledge of freelancing, business, and personal development with her coaching clients at Amy-Lynn Writing. She draws from personal experience and research to pull business and psychology into a complete package for beginner freelancers looking to break past imposter syndrome and launch their careers.