Trading Overwhelm for Mental Order

“The toughest space to organize is not actually a physical room in your home; it’s the space between your ears!” All of our behavior follows our thought life. It’s critical to declutter your mind if you want to declutter your space. In this blog I’m sharing practical ways to re-wire and organize your mind.

As a professional organizer, I’ve found that the root cause of disorganization is not just too much stuff; a huge cause of chaos is our mental clutter.

Just as the pile-up of belongings causes distraction and mental “noise, the pile-up of negative, limiting, stressful THOUGHTS swirling around our minds ends up manifesting in our space.

This is because our thoughts create our world. That’s right: the things we think about shape our relationship to people, our work, and our space!

  • When we think correctly and powerfully about ourselves and our work, for instance, we can respond to uncertain times in our career by creating and innovating. Our empowered beliefs about ourselves make us nimble, forward-thinking, and positive.
  • On the other hand, when we believe that the “world is against us,” or “everything is going down the tubes,” we will become frozen in fear, and our progress – as well as our space – will come to a standstill.

Do you see how that works? How we think is constantly, quietly, impacting our world.

Therefore, someone whose mind is cluttered will experience confusion and stuckness in their physical space. They might be okay at home, but their work environment will be a mess. Or, they might have enough structures at work to keep them moving, but at home, they fall apart. Sooner or later, what we think is going to creep into our space!

You can now probably extrapolate that if your space is a hot mess, you’ll need to put it in reverse and hunt down the beliefs that have caused you to manifest “hot mess!”

In fact, if we fail to unpack the REASONS we became disorganized in the first place, we will likely keep re-creating the same problems!

So, how can we clear the mental clutter and reclaim our minds?

It all begins with the simple practice of gratitude!

Practice Gratitude to Clear Your Mind

Practice Gratitude

The first thing to do to reclaim your mental order is to practice gratitude!

Studies have shown that gratitude actually improves our physical and psychological health. Our very well-being depends on us introducing thankfulness into our daily life!

But gratitude can’t take root and bring healing to our life in a conflicted web of negativity.

I’ve learned that our mind works in pathways. When we have a thought, we carve a mental pathway with that thought. When we have a similar thought, we add to that thought until pretty soon this pathway is a well-worn trough. (Dr. Caroline Leaf is a great resource in understanding brain function and thought life!)

If our minds currently suffer from some negative “rutted roads,” we will need to consciously evict negativity to start dismantling these pathways.

We can consciously evict negativity from our minds. Clearing this clutter will make way for gratitude to take root. We must intentionally catch and stop ourselves when we start to “awfulize,” complain, or assume the worst. When our mind heads down the familiar, well-worn road of woe-is-me; we have to ARREST that thought and kick it to the curb!


Clearing out the negative mental cobwebs will help you take back mental real estate.

Now, you can practice thankfulness throughout your day.

True gratitude is not just a polite “thank you” at prayer time, or a nod to your relative wealth as compared to the rest of the suffering world.

Gratitude is a choice. And that choice, repeated continuously, can become a lifestyle that will transform your world – inside and out!

The habit of gratitude will actually pull you out of a funk and set you upright! It will cause your insides to smile and your mood to lift. It will cause a grey day to slowly turn to color. Gratitude is medicine for the soul!

Here are two of my own personal strategies to practice gratitude”

  1. Journaling – I write my prayers, thoughts and dreams in my journal. I go through many pages a week. Morning after morning, I look back and see how far I’ve come, dreams that have been fulfilled, common threads and open points. My journals reveal how much I have to be thankful for! Reviewing my journal reminds me to live in gratitude because I’ve witnessed over time how things WILL work out for my good – even if it takes a long time. And that makes me thankful!
  2. Writing Inspiration Cards – For many years now, I have been making reminder notecards to edify myself. They’re just simply 3 x 5 cards with verses, decrees, and promises on them. They’re not that special to look at; they’re not color-coded, and sometimes my own handwriting bugs me. But they contain TRUTH and as I read them, and find them tucked into scores of books, I am filled with thankfulness that I am divinely cared for, loved, and supported!

I encourage you to create just ONE new practice of gratitude this week! And share with me in the blog comments or on social media what you are doing; maybe you’ll inspire someone else with your ideas!

Now that you’ve started addressing negativity and adding gratitude, you are on a roll towards managing your thought life.

Manage Your Thought Life: Weeding & Seeding

Planted Seeds Grow

Think of your mind as a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds and the harvest is your behavior.

The seeds we have planted are responsible for the choices we’ve made and the impact on our environment, work, and relationships! Now that is sobering.

We’ve got to trace down those seeds!

Since our environment is a reflection of how we think, we need to weed out destructive thought seeds and plant good thought seeds instead.

Remember: in order to take back your physical space, you must first take back your mind.

Here are two practical steps to manage your thought life and bring empowerment to your life:

  1. Train your mind to STOP dwelling on negative thoughts (these are internal seeds that lead to external chaos and stuckness!) Just like we reviewed in the section about gratitude, we have to pounce on negativity and pull that seed out so we can dismantle the rutted, dark road inside our brain.
  2. Plant good seed by focusing your thoughts on good, right, clean, and hopeful things. Intentionally “plant” these good seeds in your mind by writing them down, memorizing them (like I do with my hand-written memory cards), or posting them to see often.

Rewiring our brain takes time. Think of yourself as a gardener. Obviously, you are tending your very life, so you want your soil to be fertile and sweet. You want good things to grow in your life. So, you are willing to walk slowly around your garden patch, scanning for bad seeds popping up. You note that, in some cases, they are prolific, and even are trying to choke out some really good plants. And when you see these weeds, you don’t just hack them down, you carefully pull them up so you get the whole root system. You know a little effort now will save re-doing later. As you clear your soil of weeds, you take delight in planting good, healthy seed that will produce the harvest you want.

Now that you’ve begun to manage your thought life like a gardener, you are moving up the empowerment scale! You’re now able to begin reclaiming power!

Reclaim Your Creative Power

Creative Power

When we are overwhelmed, we can put our head down and move into survival mode. This can happen when we run into financial, relational, or work crisis.

But we weren’t meant to just survive; we are meant to thrive!

The way out of overwhelm is to reclaim our creative power.

Your mental state will improve the moment you start to:

1. Think, dream & plan ahead – this proactivity brings strength to your future.

Get out a notepad, or your favorite device, and start planning! Create a “dream board” with photos and pictures that inspire you.

The very act of thinking and planning ahead will activate a longer-range view. (Folks in survival mode have a very short-range and panicked view.)

When you let yourself dream, you are actually proactively squashing overwhelm. You are making a declaration to the moment: “I am in charge here; not fear! I will continue to dream and move forward.”

As you behold your own thoughts, plans and dreams, they will INSPIRE you to press ahead. Your will create your way out of a bleak moment into a bright future!

A related, empowering way to reclaim your mind is to:

2. Create ideas, systems, and physical things – this affirms your natural-born ability to BUILD!

Create, Systematize, Build

One of my favorite things to create is IDEAS. I love using post it notes for this process of mapping out ideas. Another tool I love to use is PowerPoint because – similar to mobile sticky notes – I can build out my ideas and move them around easily.

Maybe you love to create by voicing your ideas into an audio recording (I’ve tried this, but I never go back and transcribe them!). You can also record your ideas electronically or in organized notepads.

However you love to build ideas, just get going!

But ideas aren’t the only thing we can build.

Go build something in your shop. Make something by hand. Try a new recipe. Teach yourself how to can food.

Building things – both ideas and physical things – will prove to you that you are indeed a creator, and you can create your life!

Reclaiming your creative power will help you restore your mental state of mind.

Finally, I recommend soothing and strengthening your mind with rhythmic daily and weekly rituals.

Restore Daily and Weekly Rituals to Restore Order

Family Dinner

Adding daily and weekly rituals to our life brings comfort and stability to our mental state

A ritual is something that you’re doing on a recurrent basis that brings ceremony and sacredness to your life.

Your rituals don’t have to be religious. In fact, the more controlled and contrived something is, the less freedom and joy there is in it! Creating rituals are to support, inspire, and encourage you and your family.

Organize Your Daily Rhythms Download

We have been expanding our family dinner time ritual lately. We have always given thanks for our meal, our lives and one another. We have always enjoyed good conversation and laughter over dinner. And over the last few years, we have started reading together at the end of our meals. But nowadays, we have added a few things that have moved this special time from an evening event to an anticipated ritual:

  • We light candles each night and this demarcates the sacredness of our family togetherness
  • We go around the table and share things we are thankful for that day
  • We discuss our wins, victories, blessings, and stories that bolster our individual and corporate faith

Other common rituals you could “make over” to boost your mind are your morning coffee time or evening bedtime routine.

These are common rhythms that too often are invaded by the worries-of-this-world. If you’ve been consuming unsettling news or getting lost in the endless “comparison scroll” on your phone during these times, it’s time for an upgrade.

Depending on which routine you want to uplevel to a joyful ritual, here are some ideas:

  • Revise this time in your day to include restful reflection, reading, and thankfulness instead
  • Play songs or sing: beautiful frequencies will help heal your mind!
  • Hide away in your room for some focused alone time (that’s what I do with my morning tea!)
  • If it’s nice out, put your feet in the grass and do some “grounding” to connect back to the earth
  • Get some sun on your face and enjoy a boost in Vitamin D
  • Take an evening walk instead of scrolling on your phone

Your mind and soul will thank you as your blood pressure returns to normal and fretting is replaced with personal time.

I hope you’ve been inspired to reclaim your mind. It’s the first step in restoring your space. I would love to hear your comments and the ideas you are going to apply first!

Your friend,

Vicki Norris

Need help reclaiming your life? I’ve got you! Here are YOUR NEXT STEPS to “restore order”:

Toughest Organizing Project

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