Several years ago, Marie Kondo debuted on Netflix with her series on home organization titled “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” She gave viewers the ability to break down their clutter with one question: “Does it bring you joy?” If the item did not bring joy, viewers should dispose of it. We can ask ourselves the same question about the clutter in our minds.
As a society, we live haphazardly, tackling one fire after the next without considering the energy (physically and mentally) we expend dealing with the clutter. Should we also be asking, “Are my thoughts giving me joy and peace?”
In this article we’ll gain understanding of what it means to have a cluttered mind as well as share 5 sustainable ways to declutter your mind in the midst of the busyness.
This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You can read our entire affiliate disclosure here.
What causes mental clutter?
According to Psychology Today, “ ‘Mental clutter’ is a state of mind in which you can’t inhibit irrelevant information.” Mental clutter goes beyond busy schedules and a lack of order. My mind becomes cluttered when I lack boundaries and am in the habit of taking on too many tasks, leaving me overwhelmed.
Not allowing myself to get adequate sleep, my brain becomes foggy and struggles to process information. I have a cluttered mind when I worry about things beyond my control. Too much time on social media steals my peace by focusing on people and events that have nothing to do with my life.
Mental clutter is a thief of joy and peace
In John 10:10 (MSG) Jesus says,
“A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
Sometimes the thief comes in the form of a cluttered mind, stealing our joy and peace.
A cluttered mind can result in not having the mental capacity to take on tasks and do them well. Then, my job and family will suffer. To clear my mental clutter, I have to take a look at these aspects causing the clutter and evaluate what I need to live a more joy-filled, abundant life.
List your priorities
Think about what your priorities are for this season. Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV says “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”. Taking the time to evaluate your priorities can help you eliminate things that don’t support those priorities. As a new mom of four, volunteering at church was draining, as I served to meet others’ needs while neglecting my own. Even though I loved working in the women’s ministry, it added to my mental clutter when I couldn’t care for my family. I had to step back in that season of my life to focus on my priorities of caring for myself and my family.
What does your current season look like? You may be focused on gaining more education or training, raising a family, or building your career. What clutter do you need to remove to stay focused on your priorities? Is volunteering draining your energy and leaving you with little mental strength to give to your family? Consider whether or not family sports and activities are causing you to miss church or family functions that don’t align with your family priorities.
Make a list of personal and/or family priorities and have a conversation with your spouse and children (if applicable). This will help guide you in the things you may need to say “no” to and release from your cluttered mind.
Let go of the clutter
Sometimes releasing the clutter is easier said than done. Overwhelming seasons of raising children or times of grief may require you to bring your clutter before the Lord. Sometimes it takes laying everything down before God through prayer, and then “picking up” only those things that are emotionally and mentally feasible during this season. Ask God to show you what needs to be cleared out to allow time to breathe and heal so you can focus on the current season.
A trusted friend can also help you sift through the clutter. Sometimes it takes someone on the outside of our lives to look in and see what we need to release. That person can also hold you accountable to make sure you are actively working to declutter your mind and keep your priorities in check.
5 Ways to Declutter Your Mind
No matter the season you are in, a cluttered mind can negatively affect your career and those around you. Here are five ways to declutter your mind.
In the Bible, there were many times Jesus stepped away from crowds to have time alone with God and clear the clutter from his mind. Luke 5:16 CSB says, “Yet he often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.” To do the will of God, Jesus could not let his mind become cluttered. He remained focused on his priorities of healing and preaching the gospel to deliver mankind from their sin.
Prayer often becomes the last resort when we have tried everything else on our own. By making daily prayer the first item on your list, you are actively going to the Lord before your day begins and your mind becomes even more cluttered. Ask God to help you keep your priorities in check throughout the day. Talk to God and listen for ways he may be directing you away from things that would contribute to more mental clutter.
Tired of feeling like you have to do it all??
Then the 4-Day Purposeful Productivity Challenge is the perfect resource to help you quickly streamline your days and create more time for the people that matter
This quick action 4-day Challenge helps you leverage the productivity skills you already possess, gain more control of your todo list, and create at least 1 hour of free time each day!
There are times when the clutter of our lives invades the clutter in our minds. It is important to know how to “be still”. Psalm 46 talks about war and how God is our fortress and our refuge during the chaos. Verse 10(ESV) says “Be still, and know that I am God.” Taking time to still our bodies and our minds forces us to lay down the clutter, things we can and cannot control, and give it over to God.
Moving our bodies is a great way to channel the cluttered energy in our minds into something physical. While taking a walk around the neighborhood, you can pray and also still your mind. Listening to worship music on your walk can help you focus on worship instead of the raging clutter.
Do the next thing
In Matthew 6:34 CEV, Jesus tells the crowd in the Sermon on the Mount, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today.” Our brains can become cluttered with things that haven’t happened yet or won’t happen at all. Jesus wants us to focus on today. What needs to happen today that aligns with your priorities? The other things can wait until another time or another season.
Our brains can become so cluttered that we can become frozen and immobile. When there is so much on our plates, we don’t know what to do next. Looking back at your priorities, what is the next thing that aligns with them? In another season, you may be able to tackle more items on the running to-do list in your head, but for now, what makes the most sense to do?
Looking for more tips on time management? Check out all of our productivity resources
Turn down the noise
Our brains are inundated with noise. Information overload is draining, requiring multitasking, which can be inefficient and lead to burnout at work and home. If you find every minute of every day filled with “noise” and information overload, turn it off.
What podcasts, news channels, tv shows, music, etc., contribute to your peace and priorities? Often, when there is an overload, it becomes white noise, and we never really absorb the information. Intentionally select what you allow into your brain.
Also Read: 5 Important Bible Verses about Slowing Down
Make this year a priority to declutter your mind
While we like to think we are all “superwomen,” our bodies and minds aren’t designed to be overextended. The life of Jesus reminds us that while doing what God has called us to do, in work and motherhood, it is vital to step away from the noise and pray, breathe, and be still. In those quiet moments, we gain the mental capacity to continue in our calling. Make priorities and create firm boundaries to keep your mind clear and full of joy and peace.
Written by: Leah Lively
Leah Lively was born and raised in Virginia. As a mom of four, she has waded through the waters of parenting a child with chronic physical and mental health issues. Leah is passionate about helping others focus on God while walking through the chaos of life. Leah writes to encourage others and grow in their faith. She writes to let other parents know they are not alone. She shares her writing on her blog and social media pages and has also published four Bible studies. In her spare time, Leah enjoys listening to podcasts, hanging out with her kids, settling down with a good book and a cup of coffee, or spending time with friends.