Does your mind race with ideas, random thoughts, worries, reminders and such? Studies show the mind has an average of 60,000 thoughts per day.
Woah – that’s a lot of noise. It’s no wonder we have a hard time focusing.
More often than not, our minds are like toddlers running around wildly with no supervision. It asks the same questions over and over. It runs around from toy to toy. It has the attention span of a goldfish. And, it throws some epic temper tantrums.
The good news is, much like toddlers, our minds actually perform better and are happier with some rules and structure that includes focused time, play time, and rest.
Three Tools to Reign-in the Chaos
You’ve probably noticed that some days, your mind is the sweet, angel child happy to help with anything. Other days, it’s a complete terror. (This is normal – it’s just part of being human.) Not to worry – there are some reliable tools to help you reign in the chaos when your mind has gone rogue.
- Meditation. I know I mention this a lot, but there are so many amazing benefits of meditation. Reducing stress and focusing the mind are at the top of the list. Meditation also helps build self-awareness by giving you space to quietly observe your thoughts. You’ll become aware of your thought habits. From that awareness, you can then direct your thoughts to more helpful, productive patterns.
- Assign a Home. Your mind will continue to cycle the same thoughts on ideas, things you need to do, and things you need to remember when you only keep them in your head. Instead, download all these tasks, appointments, ideas, and other thoughts to a safe place, such as a digital notebook, your calendar, and to-do list. Be sure to review these storage places consistently. Your brain can then let go of these thoughts, knowing they are safe.
As an added benefit, utilizing tools to remember things is far more reliable than your brain. You’ll significantly reduce the amount of, “Oh, no! I completely forgot about that!” moments.
- Process Ideas. Some thoughts are really just a small corner of a bigger idea or issue asking for audience. If you have something niggling at you over and over again, take 15-20 minutes to flesh out the idea or issue. You can do this through journaling, mind-mapping, or talking out loud to someone. Work through the idea or problem until you reach a new resolution – usually in the form of a new perspective, decision or action.
These are all simple, but incredibly powerful tools to help strengthen your focus and eliminate excess noise. Not to mention, you can complete all three steps in about half an hour.
While it may feel like more tasks to add to your already hectic schedule, these are great productivity practices with a high return on investment. You’ll experience less stress, allowing you to focus and get the rest of your work done far more quickly. You’ll have less distraction and fires to put out. You’ll be more present with yourself and the people you are with.
Last, but not least, you’ll be happier.