How to clear mental space in your brain.
Over the last year, so many friends and clients have told me, “I feel mentally fried.” “My brain is so cluttered.” “I feel distracted and overwhelmed.” “It’s hard to focus.” “I feel like there’s so much noise in my head. I can’t think clearly.”
If you’re feeling like this, I’d like to recommend a few steps you can take.
These are steps I’ve done myself and that I recommend to my clients. Once people do these steps, they unanimously tell me, “Whoa. I feel so much better.”
– Do a social media detox
Delete all social media apps for a day, a weekend, a week, or more. Even just one day can make a big difference in how you feel.
I deleted all my social media accounts 7 years ago, and I can assure you: everything will be okay. You won’t miss anything important. Your friends will still love you. Your clients will still appreciate your work. There are plenty of other ways to stay connected with people. You will be just fine. I promise.
Experience what it feels like to wake up, go about your day, enjoy a meal, or spend time in nature without constantly scrolling and looking down at your phone.
After doing a social media detox, you might decide to quit social media all together. Or, you might decide to keep using it—but do things differently. Either way, this is a great move and you will feel better.
– Stop checking email first thing in the morning
Instead of flooding your brain with dozens of requests, demands, invitations, queries, and other people’s needs first thing in the morning…don’t. Just don’t do it.
This is a stressful way to start your day and usually leaves you feeling distracted and bogged down.
Instead, use the morning—when your brain is fresh and clear—to work on projects that require your full brainpower and creativity. Make art. Write your book. Serve clients. Craft that proposal, pitch, presentation, or grant application. Do high-level tasks. Then check email later in the day—11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, whatever works for you.
Treat email like an appointment, something you do at a specific time (“I’m going to check at 3 pm for 45 mins) rather than something you do all day long.
– Turn all notifications off
Email notifications. Text notifications. Call notifications. Social media notifications. Shopping notifications. Turn them all off.
You don’t need these intruding into your day and pulling your attention in 1,000 directions. It’s not helping you.
– Make a list of decisions you need to make…and then make those decisions
Start a document. Type out all the decisions you need to make. Should I move? Should I raise my prices? Should I adopt another dog? All the unmade decisions that have been swirling in your head—get them out on paper.
Take a long walk or a refreshing shower. Get as calm as possible. And then, make all of those decisions as swiftly as you can. Trust your “hut” (heart + gut) and get it done.
Decide “yes” or “no” so that you can clear all the decision-clutter out of your mind.
If there’s something you don’t want to decide right now, then firmly decide…not to decide. Tell yourself, “I am not going to decide right now. I will set this aside until 2022 and re-visit things then. But I am clearing this out of my brain for now.”
– Tie up loose ends and close open loops
That invoice you forgot to send. That project you still owe to that one client. That email you never replied to except you promised you would.
Block out a morning or afternoon and tie up all the loose ends, or as many as you possibly can. Go on a loose-end-tying frenzy. It will feel amazing.
– Declutter your phone screen
A typical smartphone user has 80 apps installed on their phone, but only uses 9 regularly. There’s probably a lot of stuff you don’t need. Delete it.
My phone screen looks like this. It is a calm, spacious place.
– Delegate everything you can possibly delegate
Can you delegate dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, gift wrapping, post office runs, errands, certain emails, and other tasks to somebody else? Yes. You can.
I used to hate delegating because I thought it was too expensive or just easier to do things myself. I have since learned…I was a fool.
Start delegating tasks. A few, at first. Then more. Delegate decisions, too. For instance, you can tell someone, “I don’t really mind where we have dinner. You can decide. And then tell me where to meet up. Thank you!”
– Send apologies, make amends, forgive and move on
Is there someone you need to apologize to? Do you owe someone a payment? Is there a project you abandoned and you left someone hanging? Or maybe you made a promise to yourself and broke it?
Whatever is weighing heavily on you, handle it.
Send the email. Pay the invoice. Extend an apology. Forgive someone or yourself. Whatever you need to do, do it.
You will feel like you just shampooed and cleansed your entire brain and spirit, too.
. . .
If that sounds like way too many things to do, perhaps you can pick one thing I mentioned and do that.
Start there. Start with one thing. One tiny step can create a big ripple effect in your life.
I hope this list helps you create a calmer, happier brain with less noise and more space.
Most importantly of all:
Please remember that you have choices.
Just because “most people” stare at their phone at the dinner table, check email on nights and weekends, and use social media for an average of 144 minutes per day, that doesn’t mean you need to live this way too.
You can choose something better.
And you can start this very moment.
PS. Once a year, I lead a program for business owners, artists, and authors called The Marketing Without Social Media Course. During this course, we encourage folks to do a social media detox. People report back and say, “Oh my gosh. I feel so much better.”
Curious about this course? Interested in doing it when it’s offered again in 2022? You can join the waitlist here.