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5 Ways To Create A Powerfully Productive Mind

5 Ways To Create A Powerfully Productive Mind

How often do you feel busy, but feeling as if you’re not actually getting anything done?

Days go by and you feel consistently overwhelmed with so many things on your plate, but you don’t actually make any real progress on anything meaningful.

Then we look around and wonder how so many others we look up to seem to get so much more accomplished…

Unfortunately for us, we live in the most distracting era in all of human history. While there are a ton of tools, apps and notebooks to help us prioritize and schedule our tasks, our mind only has limited processing power. When too many things are going in, it gets bogged down and our focus will constantly be switching all over the place. This leads to that wonderfully frustrating feeling that is procrastination.

A mind that is overwhelmed cannot effectively take anything new on. Creating a powerful mind capable of focus and productivity starts with taking back control of everything entering it.

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Here are 5 tactics I’ve used and shared with many others that you can implement to dramatically boost your minds ability to focus and fend off procrastination

1. Control your Physical Clutter

How does your environment look around you? Is it organized or chaotic with items scattered all over your desk or bedroom? Our physical worlds tend to be a reflection of our mental worlds. You may wonder how this matters in being more productive, but a messy physical world actually draws energy from our mind. Energy and focus we could be using towards more meaningful things… If our room is a mess or the kitchen needs to be tidied, every-time we see this it will draw energy as we’re reminded of what we need to do. An excellent resource on this, is Marie Kondos book on “The Magic of Tidying Up.”

“When you put your house in order, you put your affairs in order too.” – Marie Kondo

The more minimalist of a life we can practice the more productive space we can create in our mind. Going through old items and clothes and removing them (I recommend donating clothes) can make you feel like you lost 10 pounds of mental load. Steve Jobs actually wore the same outfit each day so he didn’t have to exert any energy thinking about it and could instead focus on the tasks of the day ahead. This is an extreme example, but it emphasizes the power of this…

2. Control your Virtual Clutter

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virtual clutter

    How many notifications are on your phone right now? Better yet, how many unread emails are in your inbox? A few years back I reached a point where I had several thousand unread emails in my inbox. It was to the point where even just opening my inbox made me instantly feel overwhelmed. Much like physical clutter, virtual clutter is a VERY real thing and can cause us to expend tons of unnecessary energy each day.

    What can we do about it?

    Unsubscribe to emails you don’t find any value in, ask to be taken off email chains that you don’t need to directly respond too and really decrease the amount of email coming in. Once done, I highly recommend practicing inbox zero to really optimize your time spent there. Social media can also be a huge energy drainer with the amount of negativity that seems to be rampant on it recently. Clean it up just like your email. Be relentless, your mental energy and state is yours to protect. Un-follow people who post things that you find are taking you find are negatively impacting your mindset.

    The more of this energy we take back the more we can use it towards important things.

    3. Become unafraid of saying NO

    If you find yourself in the state we described above, of constantly feeling overwhelmed and busy you should probably be saying no more often then you say yes. Think about it, if we are already procrastinating and behind on things, how will saying yes to taking on more items or event invitations possibly make that any better? Many people (including myself at a time) are afraid to say no to people, don’t be.

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    Darren Hardy, former publisher of success magazine tells a story of a company trying to bring on Richard Branson as a speaker. They called three times to Bransons assistant, offering more money with each call, but each time the assistant did not pass on the message. Why? Branson was locked into his 3 current strategic objectives he was working on, and speaking was not one of them. He had specifically instructed to say NO to anything note related to those 3 objectives.

    While I believe we should always make time for important events but it is only by saying no that we can truly control our energy, focus and time.

    4. You lack a defined schedule

    Schedule-small

      One of the bluntest pieces of productivity advice I ever received was the following. “If it’s not on your schedule, it does not exist.” When we try to accomplish things without setting aside planned time to do them usually one of two things happen. 1. It never gets done. 2. It gets done bit by bit taking far longer than we wanted. We need to create non-negotiable scheduled time to complete the important tasks we need to get done to reach our goals. Point #3 above becomes important when people ask you to do things during this time.

      Think about someone who wants to get into better shape. If they simply just try to “fit in a workout when they’re free”, we know will probably never or very rarely see this person in the gym.  We need to plan the time when we will workout and ideally have it at the same time each week. Being productive toward your business, career, or almost any goal should be handled the same way.

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      5. Upgrade your lifestyle

      In order to help create a powerfully productive mind, we need to build a lifestyle that creates energy to be our best self. If you are frequently tired and without energy you may need to look at your daily habits. Don’t neglect your sleep, your nutrition or your fitness. Treat and care for your mind and body like a Rolls Royce and they will give you the energy you need to get more done, battle procrastination and get you exactly where you want to go in life. My own life changed dramatically when I emphasized all of the above, having more energy in my 30’s then I did in my early 20’s.

      Our billionaire friend, Richard Branson also agrees and says how he finds working out each day gives him 4 extra hours of productivity. 

      Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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      Paul Milano

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      Last Updated on July 13, 2020

      How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

      How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

      Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

      If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

      1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

      The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

      Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

      For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

      The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

      2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

      Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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      As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

      Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

      3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

      Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

        This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

        We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

        Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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        When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

        Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

        4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

        Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

        For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

        Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

        5. Make Decisions

        For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

        If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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        If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

        Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

        I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

        This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

        The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

        6. Take Some Form of Action

        Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

        The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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        It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

        Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

        The Bottom Line

        Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

        When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

        More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

        Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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