Declutter Your Mind by Barrie Davenport & S.J. Scott [Book Summary & PDF]

Declutter Your Mind will teach you the habits, actions, and mindsets you can use to clean up the mental clutter that might be holding you back from being more focused and mindful in your daily life. Let’s discover how to get a simplified, calm mental life – and how to reclaim the time and emotional energy we give up to overthinking and anxiety!

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INTRODUCTION

Who is this book for?

Do you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts, struggle with stress or anxiety about the tasks you need to complete, or simply want to stop worrying about life in general? If you’ve answered yes to at least one of these question, then this book & summary is definitely for you!

About the authors

Barrie Davenport is the founder of the award-winning personal development site Live Bold and Bloom, a certified personal coach and online course creator, and the author of a series of self-improvement books on positive habits, life passion, confidence building, mindfulness and simplicity.

S.J. Scott is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author, with over 30 books in the “self-improvement” genre, translated in 12 different languages. His books provide daily action plans that can be immediately implemented, in key areas such as health, fitness, work and personal relationships.

In this summary

Declutter Your Mind will teach you the habits, actions, and mindsets you can use to clean up the mental clutter that might be holding you back from being more focused and mindful in your daily life. Let’s discover how to get a simplified, calm mental life – and how to reclaim the time and emotional energy we give up to overthinking and anxiety!

BOOK SUMMARY

1. DECLUTTERING YOUR THOUGHTS

Thoughts form what we perceive to be reality and impact your mental well-being. However, having too many thoughts can clutter our mind. We’re especially affected by our negative thoughts, because they tend to come back, right after we slap them down. To manage our thoughts, detach from the negative ones, and declutter our mind, we need to work on our mindfulness.

Focused Deep Breathing

When we feel overwhelmed or stressed, we tend to experience rapid breathing or shortness of breath. Slow, deep, rhythmic breathing can help us regain control of our mind. Try practising 5-10 minutes of deep abdominal breathing every day.

Meditation

Most meditation practices begin with sitting quietly, focusing on your breath, and ignoring any distractions that come your way. It increases productivity, promotes focus, decreases stress, boosts your overall brainpower, and promotes divergent thinking. Get started with a 10-minute daily meditation practice.

“Meditation is a way of entering into the quiet that’s already in your mind, buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.”

Reframe ALL Negative Thoughts.

The authors express this brilliantly:

“Critical thinking gives us the ability to solve problems quickly and effectively. Creative thinking allows us to develop original, diverse, and elaborate ideas and connections. But it’s the uninvited negative thinking that clutters our minds and often drains our enthusiasm for life.”

To change this tendency and build the reframing habit:

  • Be the watcher – Become aware of your thoughts. Separate your “self” from your thoughts, and just observe what is going on in your mind.
  • Name that thought – Mentally acknowledge that thoughts are not your reality. Say “I’m having the thought that ‘I’ll never get all of this done.’ ”
  • Just say no – Visualise pushing negative thoughts into a deep hole or putting them into a balloon that floats away.
  • Try the rubber band trick – When stuck in negative thinking, gently snap the rubber band on your wrist. This physical action will interrupt the flow of negative thoughts.
  • Know your triggers – Nearly every negative thought triggered by a person, situation, or physical state. Write down the triggers, so you’re aware when they happen.
  • Distract yourself – Break the cycle using distraction – immerse yourself in a project that involves focus and brainpower.

Teach Your Old Mind New Tricks

  • Challenge the thought and replace it – Remind yourself of a positive event or previous “win”.
  • Practice acceptance – “I accept this struggle is happening.” Take a deep breath and try to stop fighting mentally. Ask yourself: Can I take any actions right now to improve the situation? Is there anything positive to learn from it? How can I get support as I’m enduring this?
  • Take mindful action – Do something positive that requires focus and mental challenge to prevent yourself from falling back into overthinking or worry. Such activities include: Writing, painting or drawing, practicing an instrument, building something by hand, working on a complex problem
  • Set a worry timer – Set a timer for 10-15 mins and allow yourself to stress over whatever enters your mind. Get it all out! Write down your thoughts in a journal to process your thoughts or find solutions.

DECLUTTERING YOUR LIFE OBLIGATIONS

Instead of carefully evaluating what is best for us, many of us simply react to what life throws at us.

A simple solution to assess the information overload in our life: defining our core values that endure through time, difficulties, and major changes.

Here’s a 4-step strategy to define your values, or life might feel unbalanced and directionless, often leading to anxiety and depression.

1. Identify YOUR Core Values

Go through this list of values and write down every word that feels important for your personal and professional life (two columns). Pick the top-5 value from each columns and write them down on two separate sheets of paper.

Finally, list under each value all of the ways it manifests in your current life, but also think about specific actions to fix the out-of-alignment values.

Which actions are doable now or in the near future? Break them down into smaller, manageable steps.

2. Clarify Your Life Priorities

Priorities show you how to spend your time, energy, and money.

According to the authors, there are 7 key life areas: career – family – marriage (or love partnership) – spiritual/personal growth – leisure/social – life management (home tasks, financial planning, budgeting, etc.) – health/fitness

Excluding sleep, eating, and hygiene, we all have 100 waking hours per week. How many hours will you devote to each area, according to your values? Is your current life deviating from your ‘ideal’ allocation? How could you rebalance this with specific actions?

3. Focus Mindfully on Quarterly S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Contentment with the present and planning of the future can co-exist. The key is to enjoy every moment, while creating your future mindfully and celebrating enjoy every step along the path.

To achieve this, set quarterly S.M.A.R.T. goals – instead of yearlong ones that take you out of the present moment.

S.M.A.R.T. stands for: Specific – answering 6 questions: who, what, where, when, which, why. Measurable – measuring with precise times, amounts, or other units your progress toward the goal. Attainable – stretching the limits of what you think is possible. Relevant – in harmony with what you truly desire. Time-bound – with specific deadlines for your goal.

Here’s how to turn S.M.A.R.T. goals into action:

  1. Identify what’s important to you – Focus on 3-4 areas of your life.
  2. Focus on three-month goals – Life is constantly shifting and lengthy goals are often demotivating.
  3. Use a weekly review to create a schedule – Create a daily action plan for your week, considering your obligations, priorities, & available time.
  4. Take action on your goals – Turn your goal into a project by starting from the target date and working your way backwards, schedule time to work on goals by assessing how much time you have to spend on each goal, turn goals into priority tasks by working on your priority goals first thing in the morning (or when you feel the most energetic), and schedule time for single actions by bundling them all together.
  5. Review your goals daily – Keep them at the forefront of your mind.
  6. Evaluate your quarterly goals – Ask yourself: Have I attained the desired outcome? What were the successful and unsuccessful strategies? Did I put 100% of my effort toward completing these goals?

CONNECT GOALS TO YOURPASSIONS

When you work on something you love, you feel energised in all areas of your life, attracting like-minded people, with self-confidence and empowerment.

To find your passion, follow the next steps:

  • Write a vision of what you want in every area of your life,
  • Investigate yourself with online personality assessments,
  • Start reading about your interests or ideas for potential passions,
  • Narrow your search to find training needed, successful people, salary figures, and time estimates for proficiency in these areas,
  • Take a test drive through volunteering, a part-time job, or shadowing someone for a few days,
  • Put money in a savings account to make your transition smoother,
  • Deal with your current job by discussing with your employer, and
  • Stay motivated with daily action, focused towards your big goal!

DECLUTTERING YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

Our close relationships (a romantic partner, friend, family member, or even co-worker) contribute to long-term happiness in life.

A high-quality relationship involves: prioritising the relationship, open communication, healthy conflict resolution, mutual trust and respect, shared interests, a level of emotional and/or intellectual intimacy, acceptance and forgiveness, and finally physical touch (for personal relationships)

Here are 4 ways to improve & maintain your relationships, which can have a direct, positive impact on your mindset:

1. Be More Present

Being present and less emotionally reactive can help more quickly overcome stressful situations in a relationship. To achieve this:

  • Practice empathic listening – Step outside of your distracted mind and listen to their words in a non-judgmental way, making them feel safe, validated, and understood.
  • Speak mindfully – Pay close attention to your words during a conversation and resist the temptation to simply react to someone’s words or actions.
  • Meditate loving kindness – Focus on developing feelings of warmth towards other human beings, who deserve compassion and love.
  • Stop comparing to others – To stop such mental turmoil & emotional suffering, practice radical self-acceptance, change what you can, and express gratitude constantly.

2. Getting Unstuck from the Past

Many of your thoughts about the past relate to encounters with the current people in your life, so you often identify with them. To clean the clutter of negative thoughts about the past:

  • Resolve what you can – Share your feelings & pain, listen to their perspective, offer/ask for forgiveness, and discuss the future of the relationship.
  • Challenge your story – Challenge your own point of view.

3. Mindfulness with Your Partner

Mindfulness isn’t about denying or burying your emotions; it’s about taking control and acknowledging your feelings and experiences.

It can strengthen your intimate connection with your partner, while reducing stress and angst in your life. To achieve this:

  • Make & communicate the commitment – Talk with your spouse about your plan to practise the mindfulness habit on a daily basis.
  • Be emotionally present – Remain emotionally open to pain, show empathy, and reflect back your partner’s body language and words.
  • Listen without defensiveness – Listen actively, without preparing your response or defense, and be aware of your own reactive emotions – but don’t act on them.
  • Look for lessons within conflict.

4. Let Go of Certain People

“Sometimes the only course of action is to say goodbye to those who continue to undermine your mental and emotional health.”Click To Tweet

Universal themes that reveal it’s time to say goodbye:

  • Verbal, emotional, or physical abuse.
  • Consistent dishonesty, disloyalty, or toxicity.
  • Divergent core values, questionable integrity, or incompatibility.
  • Ongoing immaturity, emotional manipulation, harmful irresponsibility.
  • Unresolved or untreated mental health issues.
  • Addictions (drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, pornography).
  • Refusal to communicate, address problems, or invest in the relationship

To remove yourself from a draining or painful relationship:

  • Consider the positives of life without this person – What if you didn’t have to cope with the issues caused by the friction with this person?
  • Consider the fallout of saying goodbye – They may try to sabotage you or wound you. How can you handle the fallout? You might need to talk about your plan with common friends, family, or a therapist.
  • Define what “goodbye” really means – What type of communication (if at all) do you wish to have with them, and how often? What will you no longer tolerate from them?
  • Communicate your intentions without blame – Keep it short and focus on your own feelings rather than their faults.
  • Accept that it can be a process – It is rarely easy or pain-free. Give yourself permission to do it slowly, if that’s the best way for you.
  • Allow yourself to grieve – Grief is confusing, if you view it as a normal part of the process of letting go, it will pass through you more quickly.

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DECLUTTERING YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Our surroundings contribute to the quality of our life; often we’re cluttered with mindless tasks because we simply react to what’s in front of us. To declutter and free up mental space:

Simplify Your Home

Set aside just 10 mins a day, and within a few weeks your house will be in order. Let go of the past and release the physical objects that weigh you down.

Simplify Your Digital Life

Monitor your digital activities throughout the day. Where and how can you begin cutting back? Also take 10 minutes a day to declutter your email inbox, icons on your desktop, and organise your files and documents.

Simplify Your Activities

Busyness is contributing to your mental clutter; accept that less really can be more. To declutter your schedule:

  • Prioritise your daily priorities rather than trying to fit them all in.
  • Purge the commitments you can drop without serious consequence. Alternatively, delegate, delay, or shorten them.
  • Focus on three important daily goals, but with more intention, time, and focus.
  • Build in sacred time to do absolutely nothing. Just be.
  • Leave work on time; try gradually cutting back your overworking habit, starting with one day a week.
  • Take a digital sabbatical (no access to any Internet-connected device) for one full day a week or a weekend.
  • Harness the power of flow and focus by working on a challenge, or honing a skill. Set enough time aside and monitor your emotional state.

Simplify Your Distractions

Distractions steal our time & motivation, trapping us in self-loathing and anxiety. To get more done:

  • Before bed or first thing in the morning, determine your three most important tasks of the day, and ask why they are important.
  • Break each task down into sub-tasks, prioritise them, and estimate how much time they will take.
  • Schedule these prioritised sub-tasks into the most productive part of your day to maximise output.
  • Make sure you have everything you need before you sit down for your work (coffee, water, snacks, an organised desk, etc.)
  • Work in a space without interruptions, turn off your phone. Block unnecessary websites, turn notifications off, and put a “do not disturb” sign on your door.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes and start working diligently. When the timer goes off, allow yourself a short break, but don’t do anything that will steal your focus (calls, email, etc.) from the tasks at hand.
  • Between your three most important tasks of the day, get larger breaks (15-25 mins) to exercise, meditate, or have a non-stressful conversation.
  • Mindless tasks (easy paperwork, organising, etc.) should be scheduled at your least productive times of day.

Simplify Your Actions

To become present and aware, even during the most mundane activities, follow the next steps mindfully:

  • Eat meals – Savour the experience of eating, with proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  • Clean your house – Focus on the doing rather than the getting it done.
  • Walk – Pay attention along the way and let walking be the destination.
  • Experience nature – Focus on your surroundings with all of your senses.
  • Exercise – Pay attention to your body, posture, discomfort, and movements.

CONCLUSION

Key takeaways

  • Your mind is the basis of everything you experience – train it daily!
  • Focused breathing and meditation can help detach from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
  • Interrupt, reframe, and challenge your thoughts to take charge and diminish their power over you.
  • Set goals based on your core values and priorities to set the stage for focused action and self-esteem that keeps you energised.
  • Be present and mindful in your relationships to prevent many of the conflicts and mental distress that come with human interaction.
  • Keep your home & digital world organised to remove distractions that pull you away from your values, priorities, and goals.

Further reading

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans. This book is packed with actionable exercises on how to design, calibrate, and reinvent your life, debunking dysfunctional beliefs and reframing common failures into lessons.

Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

Guidelines is my eBook that summarises the main lessons from 33 of the best-selling self-help books in one place. It is the ultimate book summary; Available as a 80-page ebook and 115-minute audio book. Guidelines lists 31 rules (or guidelines) that you should follow to improve your productivity, become a better leader, do better in business, improve your health, succeed in life and become a happier person.

Action Steps

  1. Breathe deeply & meditate, becoming aware of your thoughts.
  2. Identify your core values, life priorities, and set quarterly S.M.A.R.T. goals.
  3. Be more mindful in your high-quality relationships and let go of people that drag you down.
  4. Download the complete book on Amazon.

This summary is not intended as a replacement for the original book and all quotes are credited to the above mentioned author and publisher.

DOWNLOAD THE DECLUTTER YOUR MIND PDF FOR FREE!

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