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.
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
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.
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
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.
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