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5 Ways to Organize Your Thoughts (When You're Overwhelmed)


Do you ever feel like your mind is a tornado with your thoughts whirling around uncontrollably? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. But it might be time to learn how to organize your thoughts.

Learning to organize your thoughts can reduce anxiety and help you gain clarity in life. It will also help you to be better at self-reflection and making sound decisions. So how can you get better at organizing your thoughts?

This article will teach you a few actionable steps, so you can take back control of your mind.

Why do our thoughts become disorganized?

You might be wondering how you got to this place where your thoughts run wild in your mind. It’s something I spent most of my early life trying to figure out.

Many of us struggle with feeling out of control when it comes to our thoughts. And in part, we may have to blame society and our evolving relationship with technology.

Research shows that consistent internet use makes us feel like it’s more difficult for us to focus and impacts our memory. And if you’re like me, you use the internet on a daily basis.

Similarly, another study found that consistent use of social media is linked to anxiety that’s rooted in our thought processing.

So our modern world that constantly exposes us to information left and right has made it more difficult to organize our thoughts. But it is by no means impossible. It just takes intentional effort.

Why should we try to organize our thoughts?

If you don’t mind disorganized thoughts, why should you care about organizing them? Unfortunately, the research indicates that disorganized thoughts can be at the root of many issues.

One study found that individuals with increased activity in the area of the brain involved in memory and thought processing were more likely to experience anxiety.

This would indicate that the lack of organization of our thoughts has a clear impact on our well-being. Given that thoughts can trigger the body to feel a specific way, this makes logical sense.

Another effect of not organizing your thoughts is you may be prone to thinking the same thoughts over and over again. Research suggests this can increase your stress and disturb the quality of your sleep.

I can personally attest that organized thoughts are a foundation for inner well-being. When I allow my thoughts to run rampant and don’t give them direction, they tend to lead me down a negative path.

On the other hand, when I take the time to organize my thoughts and reflect, the inner peace that I find is invaluable.

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5 ways to organize your thoughts

If you’re ready to become the director of your own thoughts, then step on up. These 5 tips will teach you ways that you can organize your thoughts to find clarity and peace.

1. Make space to reflect daily

Not many of us take time to reflect on our day-to-day lives. But reflection is a powerful tool for organizing your thoughts.

When you take time to stop and think about what happened during your day you can better process it.

I do this by taking 5 minutes each evening to mentally “rewind” through my day. I look at both the good and the bad moments.

I ask myself these two questions when reflecting. What did I learn? Could I do anything better?

These questions are especially helpful when something didn’t go quite right. Instead of letting my thoughts go wild and get the best of me, this reflection directs me to how I can improve.

You can follow my process or create your own. But you need to give yourself the time to consciously reflect otherwise your subconscious thoughts will do it for you.

2. Write out your “thought vomit”

I know “thought vomit” sounds gross, but hang with me here. Sometimes we feel like we can’t think straight.

In these moments, it can be particularly helpful to just throw up all your thoughts on a piece of paper.

Don’t try to organize your thoughts when you do this. You can go back and do that later. Or not.

By allowing yourself to let it all out and be free, you give your brain space to breathe again.

Once you have it all out, you can then go look for trends in your thoughts. And from these trends, you can determine solutions to your problems.

I use this technique often when I feel myself getting worked up over a situation. It always helps de-escalate my emotions and gives me insight into why I feel the way I do.

3. Take time to think about nothing

This may sound counterintuitive, but thinking about nothing may organize your thoughts.

I do this through meditation. Now I’m not one of those people who meditate for hours on end. I typically only do it for 2 to 5 minutes.

But when I feel like I can’t focus or get a grip on my thoughts, I stop and meditate.

Meditating or thinking about nothing is like pressing the reset button on your brain.

Just the other day, I was getting stressed out because I have to have dental surgery. I could feel my thoughts ranging from concern about the cost of missing work to the pain it would induce.

At that moment, I stopped and set a timer to meditate for 2 minutes. After those two minutes, I felt at ease. It allowed me to clearly navigate the next steps in getting my procedure set up.

4. Make yourself a to-do list

Sometimes our thoughts get disorganized because we’re overwhelmed by everything we need to do. In these cases, it’s best to use the classic to-do list to organize your thoughts.

I know many people don’t like to-do lists. But there is a reason they’ve been around for a long time.

They’re an effective method for giving you clear direction on what you need to do one step at a time.

I used to hate to-do lists, but that was because I was making mine far too long. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day and this will help.

When you have a straightforward list of what needs to be done that day, it frees up mental space for other things. Because now that thought about doing laundry or picking up your kid isn’t gnawing at you.

You can do this using an app or good old pen and paper. Give the to-do list a chance because it really can clear your mind.

If you want more tips on how to set better goals, here's our article with 9 helpful tips!

5. Talk to someone about your thoughts

If you can’t seem to organize your thoughts on your own, maybe you need to give them a voice.

Saying your thoughts out loud to someone else helps you process them. And it helps give you insight into how to organize them.

The other day I was having trouble figuring out the next best steps with a patient. I had ruminated on this patient’s situation for days feeling like my thoughts were running in circles.

I finally decided to consult my colleague about the patient and tell them my thoughts. Saying it out loud made me realize some of the potential solutions on my own.

But my colleague was also able to help me logically organize my thought process. By doing this, we were able to determine the next best steps to help the patient succeed.

Talk to someone you trust and let them help guide your mind. Because sometimes we can’t do it all alone.

💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, we've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇

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Download Our FREE Mental Self-Care Cheat Sheet!

Thrive under stress and crush your goals with these 10 instant tips for your mental health.

Wrapping up

In today’s world, it’s easy to let your thoughts run wild 24/7. Fortunately, organizing your thoughts can be the antidote to this mental chaos. The 5 tips in this article will help you find mental clarity and inner peace. Because no matter how loud your thoughts may be, you can always take back control with a little mental practice.

What are your favorite tips to organize your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Ashley Kaiser Writer

Physical therapist, writer, and outdoor enthusiast from Arizona. Self-proclaimed dark chocolate addict and full-time adrenaline junkie. Obsessed with my dog and depending on the day my husband, too.

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