Imagine if you picked up every piece of trash you saw lying on the ground and put it in your pocket. After a while you’d be walking around with garbage stuffed into every part of your clothing. It wouldn’t feel good, it would probably smell pretty funky and it might even get you kicked out of a few places.

Of course, you would never do that because it’s silly and illogical, but that’s kinda what we do mentally, every day. We listen to the radio, friends and co-workers. We watch news, vines, snapchats and tubes. We read headlines, tweets, graffiti and emails. Consciously or not, every day we have a tendency to take in every piece of mental fluff we encounter. This has an effect on our overall mental and emotional state and most of us don’t even know its happening.

The footie game last night, the disturbing terrorist report on TV, the juicy celebrity gossip, the conversation about climate change, the thing your boss said at lunch, even the pulp romance novel on the train. It all gets pushed through the slot and ends up as a swirling mass inside our heads.

When it’s time to think creatively, this mental and emotional debris clutters our thinking. Whether you realise it or not, it affects your ability to think clearly, affects how positive you feel and influences your creative energy.

I’ve seen it many times. If there’s a big climate change story in the news, CSI brainstorms will suddenly be about the environment. If the nation has a huge sporting triumph, suddenly there will be a lot more positive creative energy and ideas will be bouncing off the walls. We’re products of our environment.

So, if you want to be more creative consistently, be aware of what you allow in. Of course, we can’t always choose what we want to be exposed to, but we can be more selective about the things we choose to dwell on deeply. Make a habit of taking note of how a new thing affects you. If you notice that something makes you feel angry / frustrated / depressed / confused – ask if its worth spending energy on. Usually it’s not. Over time you can train yourself to tune out 90% of the rubbish.

We can also counter-act negative weeds by planting more positive seeds in our minds. Let’s say you know you’ve got a big project coming up and you need to be mentally on-point. Start each morning with a few inspirational videos. Read something that makes you feel good. Write some things that build confidence. Take note of what inflates and deflates your creative state.

Just like we floss every day to get rid of particles of food that would rot our teeth, we should mentally clear our minds of garbage that will fester if it gets a chance to sit. If you want sharper ideas, practice mental hygiene.

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