The Secret to Decluttering Your Mind

Do you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts and ideas? Or struggle to keep track of your personal and professional commitments?

If so, great news! Your mind is just doing what it does best: processing information.

Unfortunately though, the thoughts and ideas it generates are usually all over the place!

Here’s how you can declutter your mind, so you can make the most of this amazing feature!

Your Mind Is Brimming With Ideas

Ideas are simply a combination of both new information and information which exists in your memory.

And your mind makes plenty of them! So plenty it overflows.

Ideas can come up at any time too, usually inopportune—during tests, when trying to sleep, in the middle of a meeting—where you’re unable to work through the idea.

Frustratingly, once an idea flows outside of your mental brim, you need to exert extra effort to retrieve it later. Otherwise, your amazing idea gets lost in memory.

Yes, your brain is an effective idea generator, but unfortunately, it does a terrible job of keeping track of the ideas it generates!

So how can you fix this?

Give Your Ideas a Home

No matter how impressive your working memory is, your brain can be unreliable when it comes to holding information for later retrieval.

The simple solution is learning the habit of capturing everything through externalization—that is, getting whatever is in your mind off your mind as soon as possible.

You can do this by noting down anything important that catches your attention.

By turning your ideas into words, whether by writing them in a notepad or typing it on your phone, you make it not only tangible, but also manageable.

You’ll no longer have to worry about remembering what to buy at the grocery store, when to follow up with your colleague, or where to work on your next project.

Your notes will do the remembering for you!

Tools Don’t Matter

The tools you use to capture information are only as good as how reliably you use them.

If you capture ideas in random places like the back of receipts today, sticky notes tomorrow, and your laptop’s notepad the next day, you’re going to have a difficult time sorting through the information later on.

So, select your preferred capturing tool, and use it consistently.

If you find that a certain capture tool doesn’t serve you well, you can always change to a different one.

Pick a tool that’s accessible—one that you can go to once an idea strikes, even at an inconvenient place or time.

Get the Ball Rolling … or Not!

Having a decluttered mind (and life) doesn’t end in externalizing ideas and information.

You have to process the information you’ve externalized.

At the end of the day, work through everything you’ve captured, and make a decision about what you will do with each one.

Decide whether an item in your list is something you can do right away, defer for later, delegate to others, or simply archive.

You can also categorize items in your list as single tasks or multi-step projects.

Processing helps you put a time and place for everything, whether that’s on your calendar, organizer, or project management app.

After processing information, it’s important to dedicate time to clearing your plate to make space for new ideas and information.

Completing your tasks and projects is vital to your productivity!

Decluttered Mind, Fuller Life

When you develop the habit of decluttering your mind through externalization, you not only ensure that great ideas never get lost in memory, you also instantly silence the constant noise that often distracts you throughout the day.

Fostering this productivity habit will help you eliminate the overwhelm in your life, and regain more control.

When you stop thinking about the things you have to do later, you become more empowered to focus on what you can do now.

Become a Habit Master

Start today by allotting just 10 to 15 minutes to think about all your commitments, both at home and at work.

Note down everything you can think of on your capture tool of choice.

You’ll notice that as you think of your current commitments, you’ll come up with new information (e.g., specific steps to accomplishing a big project) and ideas. As you do, write them down.

Set aside some time to decide what you will do with the information and ideas you’ve collected, and more importantly, take them off your plate.

Make this a daily practice and your productivity will increase dramatically!


Chris Acebu is a marketing consultant, business coach, and Upwork evangelist who helps freelancers and businesses stand out from competition, get new clients and earn more money! Enroll in his free email course, The Magnetic Upwork Profile, and 10x Your Upwork Profile views.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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