A Cluttered Mind


It’s not only our houses that can get cluttered. Our minds can get overwhelmed with ideas, things to do, and "where did I put that?" questions. Keeping track of all the stuff in our lives can be exhausting, and I for one have a few dedicated stress balls on hand to help me out in these situations. The mind doesn’t still anymore without a concentrated effort. Instead it is constantly working in overdrive. Processing. Remembering. Prioritizing..

Once the mind becomes too tired we start to forget things or lose focus. I hate days when I feel frazzled and pulled in different directions.

So how can we release this mind clutter? How can we can have more energy and focus?


Write everything down

Have a master list of all your to do’s in categories. Don’t try to remember everything. Then have a daily to do list for today’s must do’s.

Keep an idea journal for things you might want to do or think would be a great idea even if you can’t do them right now. I have vacations I want to go on, books I want to read, a plan for an ebook, a title of something I want to write, and some constellations I want to memorize. You can keep your idea journal on the computer or in a notebook.

Put a notepad by your bed and other places you come up with thoughts and actions. Then in the morning you can transfer them to the master list or idea book.


One form of mental clutter are those thoughts that keep cycling over and over.

"I can’t believe she said that to me. I felt so dumb. And I didn’t even reply coherently. I should have said…."

"I am so worried about my finances. We have too much debt, and one of us might lose their jobs, and we’d lose the house and I know I am going to end up being a bag lady."

"I failed big time that time. Why did I do that? I should have… I wish…"

When you start ruminating over something  write it down in a journal or notebook. Once it’s written down you have less of a feeling that you have to continue having it junk up your head. You might even come up with some solutions or lessons learned. This is also a good practice for before bed if you stay up at night worrying.


Put your plans to paper. Write down your goals so they can become action plans instead of vague, "I want to" do’s.

Sketch out project plans on paper instead of letting them become huge boulders in your head. When you put them to paper you break the project down so it feels more manageable.

If you have some things you want to tell a certain person next time you talk, write it down in your planner under Agenda.  Write out your menu plan for the week so you aren’t trying to defrost something by microwave at dinnertime.

All those plans in your head? Get them down on paper. Don’t try to remember all the details.


Try thinking about just one object, one word, on thought. Let the other thoughts pass through your head. Have this peace, even if it’s just for a minute.  When you walk, just walk. When you wash dishes, feel the soap bubbles.

See how long you can pay attention to what is going on right now instead of regretting the past or worrying about the future.

Take 10 deep breaths, concentrating on your breathing and nothing else. How do you feel?

Dip into your heart

Too often we are in our heads all day long. Take a moment to ask yourself, "What am I feeling?" "What do I need?" "What do the people around me need?"

Instead of picking your next to do by the calculated priority you placed on it earlier, feel what you should do next once in awhile.

Release the unhelpful thoughts

Your thoughts think they are helping you, protecting you and want to be listened to. But, sometimes thoughts hold you back. What have you been thinking about lately that is counterproductive to how you want to live? When the thought comes up try saying to it, "Thanks for sharing and here is the door." Release the thought. Some people like to visualize those thoughts as balloons floating away. Or leaves in a stream. Play with it until you find something that resonates with you.

Sometimes it’s helpful to dialogue with the thought to see what it is really trying to say. Often you’ll find out it was just trying to protect you. If it says, "You don’t really want to lead that workshop. No on will be interested and it will go badly," it may really be saying, "I am afraid that you may fail and then feel hurt." Then you get the chance to tell the thought it is very kind and you are going to try anyway. You can suggest other nurturing thoughts instead.  (If you are one of those rare people who don’t talk to yourself, then you can ignore that last bit.)

Other times you really do need to take action – pray, forgive, research, call someone. Write the action down or do it now. And then the thought will dissipate.


What is cluttering up your mind today?

Photo Credit: Temari


  • Steel says:

    Very good post!

    I’m a list maker to the nth degree and write everything down. It’s a huge help when you’re tired to have something to refer to right in front of you instead of trying to remember everything and feeling bad if you forget something.

    Lists help you cut yourself some slack!

  • Mary says:

    Thank you for such a timely article … for me! A “cluttered” brain has been hampering me recently, and these suggestions are awesome!

  • Beth says:

    Good for you Steel!

    So glad it’s helpful to you Mary. Cluttered brain gets to the best of us 🙂

  • akshay vishvas says:

    adding a little to these awesome suggestions

    Cogitation: Thinking is undirected; try to go back from your thinking to where the thought came. Go back retrace the steps, and then you will see that another thought was there and that led to this and they are not logically connected. One thought leads to another without any direction from you. The thought itself leads to another because of association. There is no logical connection-only association in your mind.

    Contemplation: It means thinking-directed thinking. We think but that is not contemplation. That thinking is undirected, vague, leading nowhere. Thinking becomes contemplation when it moves not through association, but is directed. The mind always tries to escape from one side path to another, from one bypath to another, to some association. You cut off all the side ways. On only one road, you direct your mind, then you bracket out all associations. This is called contemplation. As a scientist, a logician, a mathematician, a poet, a musician working on something, say any problem, are in contemplation. Many things from the sideways will attract, but he does not allow his mind to move any where, mind moves in one line, directed. This is contemplation. Science is based on contemplation, it is logical and rational, it is not absurd.

    Concentration: Then there is concentration, to stay at one point, being at one point, not allowing the mind to move at all. It is not thinking, it is not contemplation. In thinking, in ordinary thinking, mind moves like a madman. In contemplation the madman is led, directed, he cannot escape anywhere. In concentration the mind is not allowed to move; in ordinary thinking, it is allowed to move only somewhere. In concentration it is not allowed to move. It is only allowed to be at one point. The entire energy, the whole movement sticks to one point. Yoga is concerned with concentration. The yogic mind has its thinking focused, fixed at one point; no movement is allowed.

    Meditation: In ordinary thinking, mind is allowed to move anywhere; in contemplation, it is allowed only in one direction, all other directions are cut off. In concentration, it is not allowed to move even in one direction, it is allowed only to be on one point. And then comes, Meditation. In Meditation, mind is not allowed at all. Meditation is ‘no-mind’, not even concentration is allowed. Mind itself is not allowed to be, that is why meditation cannot be grasped by the mind. Up to concentration, mind has reach, an approachable reach. Mind can understand concentration, but not meditation. Mind is not allowed at all really in meditation. In ordinary thinking, all directions are open; in concentration, only one point is open-no directions. In meditation even that point is not open, even that point is taken away. Mind is not allowed to be. Thinking is an ordinary state of mind and meditation is the highest possibility. The lowest one is ordinary thinking-association, and the highest, the peak, is meditation i.e. no-mind.

    Self-Realization is concerned with meditation. The blissful life is based on meditation. Meditation makes a man a master of the mind. The glory which the modern man has lost in his rat-race in the outside world can be regained, discovered or reclaimed through meditation. How can, contemplation, and concentration which are mental processes help in achieving a state of no-mind.

    If the process of thinking becomes more and more dense, thick, then you are proceeding to one-mind to multi-mind, if the process of thinking becomes less thick, less dense, is decreased, is slow down, then you are helping yourself towards no-mind. It depends on you and mind can be a help, because really, mind is what you are doing with your consciousness ” Chetna” this very moment. If you leave your consciousness without doing anything with it, it becomes meditation.

    Deep down mind, space filled occupied by thoughts. If you remove some thoughts, space is created or reclaimed. If you go on removing your thoughts by and by you go on regaining your space. This space is meditation. When you remove the thoughts, just as you remove some commodities or furniture from the living room, some space is discovered there. Space is not created by removing the material or furniture then no space comes in from outside. It is always there your have recovered it while removing the furniture.

    So there are two possibilities – either slowly, gradually decrease your mind, by and by empty your mind. Or it can be done suddenly also. There is no need to go on for lives together removing the furniture by and by there are problems. One goes on slowly decreasing thoughts and then again creating new thoughts. You can make a jump or devote full time to remove unnecessary thoughts in one time and then, while becoming the master of mind, you may enter the world to fulfill the role with the torch of Third Eye. This is the right way and right approach towards leading a blissful life in the world.

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