There are days where I feel like my mind is about to explode from the very moment I wake up. But I guess I’m not alone …it’s a modern sickness.
In this age of information overflow and being constantly “connected” with everything and everyone, it can feel like our head is packed with noise, making our thoughts travel into every direction and of course, by consequence having some trouble in finding any focus, or any intention at all.
In previous posts such as this one and this one, I’ve definitely talked about minimalism and the act of removing physical clutter – or “stuff” – and how that can be incredibly liberating to create more room in one’s life. It certainly has helped a lot in ours. After removing all the unnecessary objects in our lives and condensing all our belongings into the content of a van – currently in our very suitcases – we’ve experienced a massive shift in how much more flexibility, space, and ease there can be in our lives. But of course, this awesome journey is not just about what’s physically there. I do believe it’s also important to consider the other kind of clutter: the one that’s in our minds and that’s quite possibly causing …a whole lot of fog.
Just as we can accumulate physical things we do not need, we can also accumulate stuff in our mental space – unnecessary thoughts, information, or worries about things that just don’t bring us any joy in the first place. Essentially robbing ourselves of our ability to concentrate, getting stuff done but also more broadly, having true alignment with our direction in life. Blame the short attention span. Blame the FOMO. Blame the mental clutter.
What does a mind free of clutter feel like? Probably really clear & motivating. Imagine a calm mental space curated only with the things we truly love and that truly bring us joy. Our goals and intentions, our dreams, and generally the causes that matter to us. Imagine going on about your day with zero spam involved, just like a buddhist monk. That might sound a bit idyllic. However, the optimist in me wants to believe it’s not so impossible for the rest of us.
I suppose that even just a bit less mental clutter would be a beneficial thing to experience. How about Marie Kondo’s famous quote: “Discard everything that doesn’t bring you joy“? Could we possibly apply it to our that to the amount of information entering our minds every day? To create more room & intention towards the things we really love?
I sure am not an expert in the topic and I think I still have some way to go when it comes to that. But through my own journey, I’ve found some simple ways to “cultivate” that, which I want to share with you today! Let’s dig into it.
LIMITING USELESS INCOMING INFORMATION
– News – Yes. It can be quite controversial to mention, but I think I’m not mistaken when I notice how people who watch the news profusely are actually very, very frustrated. Coincidence? I think not. The news are quite a perversive & manipulative source of information, which can affect us very deeply (Fear mongering, anyone? How about “propaganda” or “lobbying”?). I haven’t watched or read the news in ages and it’s one of the best choices that I’ve made in my life.
– especially considering those that are filled with ads and content that is distorting one’s perception of themselves (looking at YOU women’s magazines). Last time I read one was at the doctor’s office and I was rolling my eyes at the amount of brainwashing content that made me feel miserable. Keep the beautiful independent publications though
, those are inspiring 🙂
– Facebook feeds
are most definitely a huge waste of time and mental energy. My mind is much clearer since I’ve started using a plugin called Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator
. I highly recommend it, so if you’re not ready to “quit” Facebook all in all, give it a try. Aside of that, it’s a good idea to remove the Facebook app from your phone as the plugin doesn’t work there. That’s still on my to-do list!
– Newsletters are also evil – take the time to unsubscribe to all the spam and the stuff that doesn’t truly bring you joy or that you never even read, it feels amazing. Keep just the very few that are valuable to you.
BATCHING SOCIAL MEDIA, EMAILS & DEALING WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S STUFF
Everybody has to interact with the outside world, and communicate with the people in their lives. Friends, followers, clients… Should it be on a 24/7 basis though? Well, no, because that would be like applying that constant pressure in your mind too.
It’s a good idea to “batch” these interactions. I started paying attention to how often I had been checking out our social media channels or our emails, only to realize it was pretty much once every hour – no wonder why I felt “plugged in” all the time and not able to pursue other things that mattered to me such as spontaneous creative flow. So now, I have certain times dedicated to that, say x3 or x4 per day – and it allows me to be way more mindful about when & how that information comes in.
LISTING THE THINGS YOU DON’T GIVE A F*CK ABOUT
This was a fun instruction from Sarah Knight in her book “The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck”
, which was a very necessary read for me – and I believe it’s beneficial for everyone. Sometimes, we just get caught up thinking about stuff that doesn’t really matter to us, that doesn’t really bring us joy – but we’re not really aware of it enough to actually notice the harm. Making a list allows you to visualize these things and really be fully conscious of the stuff that you really shouldn’t let in your mental space.
So, ask yourself: “what do I really not give a fuck about?” and add it in that list. It can be anything. For me, some of these are: the Eurovision + The World Cup | the gluten-free fad | celebrity gossip | twitter | champagne | spirulina | digital nomads who make 6-figure a year and want to teach us how | people who will never, ever understand what we do for a living.
There you go. Making it official allows one to be more mindful next time these shitty things try to sabotage their mind.
On the other hand, you can also make a list of the things that you DO give a fuck about – and it will give them more of a priority. Such as: Modern Art | Modern Feminism | Typography | Instagram | Pinterest | Making & preserving food | Plants and their properties | Creative businesses | People who question the system & live authentic lives | Mentoring friends & people who inspire | Minimalism (d’uh).
Recently, I’ve been really inspired by Maddie from DariaDaria
who’s been sharing peeks into her journaling habit. She had mentioned in her instagram stories
, that “if she wouldn’t do that, her mind would probably explode
“. Which sounds awfully familiar somehow! You know that feeling when your mind is flooded with thoughts, emotions, feelings, worries? Just pour it all down to paper
and it instantly feels better …like a weight off your chest (or your mind, per say). With this newfound clarity, you can then move forward with your day with a more defined intention.
I personally love to “journal” by doodling. So no words, but rather drawings. Shapes, colors, strokes, phrases. For me it’s an activity with a dual benefit, as it doesn’t just allow me to empty out my thoughts in a creative way, but also to become more aware and notice more of the beautiful things in my surroundings. Slowly, and little by little, these become more and more present in my drawings, which reflects me being more present in my inner & outer environment as well.
It’s definitely not easy to do, but it’s fair to say that you must respect yourself enough to know how to get out of shitty situations. To just not have to deal with crap that doesn’t bring you joy – or at least, less of it. When you have to do things you don’t like, then you are bringing in flocks of extra worries in your mental space – negative thoughts that distract you from what you truly love. And ok, life is not all rainbows and unicorns and we all have to deal with things that we don’t like – but then again we also often have the choice not to. Often times, it’s good to play the escapist. It’s called self-love.
Paperwork makes me cringe – so I willingly ignore it and do the best to delegate it. A very small amount of people in my life tend to make me feel very frustrated, so I limit the time I spend with them. Things like gossips & whining fill my mind with toxicity so I like to learn new escapist techniques to turn those conversations around. Why? Because being in the wrong state of mind is a huge waste of time and happiness.
It’s quite a task to remove external information from your mind, but it’s just as important to regulate your own ideas in order to stay sane and to be able to actually make some of them happen.
As creative folks, we have new ideas all the time. Whether it’s for a project, a blog post, something we want to create and put out there, but also broader things such as new lifestyle choices or new creative endeavours to try out. So it often gets overwhelming – we lose our focus and don’t know where to get started, then we stall, which is a classic situation. So what we do is to write them down if they persist (because some ideas are just temporary), and then simply choosing which one(s) to bring forward. This allows us to set an intention in our minds and allow all the input from that particular idea to come in.
Of course, most of the time we are still multi-tasking and working on multiple things at a time (whether it’s for clients, ourselves or our life in general), but this prioritising does allow us to see what to focus on at times where life gets messy, and not lose the grip of it.
We pick 1 to 3 things we want to set a particular focus on at a time. Daily, weekly or monthly, depending on how time-consuming these things could be. It can be an idea as mentioned above (such as a new illustration project), a goal (such as having x5 new design clients this trimester), something we want to get done (like finishing our book-keeping this week) or a simple intention (like eating more greens). It’s like having x3 bright-colored post-its on top of our minds, so things are crystal clear, and we are less likely to lose ourselves in thoughts around things that aren’t a priority at the moment!
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