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Published on February 24, 2021

12 Simple Strategies To Improve Your Mental Clarity

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12 Simple Strategies To Improve Your Mental Clarity

Would you like to start each day with a clear focus on what you want to accomplish? Would you like to know that what you accomplish today will be accomplishments that meet your needs, desires, and life goals? If we are honest, I am sure we would all like to be in that state where we have mental clarity.

Unfortunately, whether we are conscious of it or not, we tend to allow the increasingly busy world in. This creates a tremendous distraction that pulls us away from being focused on what we want. We allow negative news and social media to make us angry, depressed, and upset, and those emotions cause us to become indecisive and lack focus.

We allow ourselves to live in the past—where mistakes we made and injustices towards us cause us to feel angry and overwhelmed. All these distractions, external events we have no control over, and past negative life experiences cloud our mental focus. It pushes us towards focusing on negatives that disrupt our mental clarity and the fantastic future we all could have if we only focus on what we want to accomplish, the steps we need to take to achieve them, and the life we want for ourselves.

To help you gain some mental clarity and know what you want out of each day, here are 12 simple strategies that will lead you in the right direction.

1. Go for a Walk

Any form of exercise will clear your mind, but one of the most effective ways is to walk in nature. Even just twenty to thirty minutes of walking around your neighborhood will have the same effect if you do not live near nature. The very act of moving will put your mind into a more positive state, which will help you think things through more effectively.

2. Drink Lemon Water in the Morning

I began drinking lemon water every morning about two years ago and was surprised how I felt healthier, mentally clearer, and awake within twenty minutes. Many healthcare professionals recommend drinking a glass of lemon water (half a lemon squeezed into a glass of water) for the physical health benefits it gives you.[1] But when you feel healthy physically, you also feel mentally healthy.

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Our mind and body work together. If we are physically ill, we don’t feel good mentally, and vice versa. When we feel energetic and alive, we feel fantastic, and our emotional feelings lift. This means a little lift in the morning by drinking lemon water will not only raise your physical health but also directly improve your mental health.

3. Plan Your Day the Night Before

When you plan the day the night before, you begin the day knowing what you want to accomplish. Most people never think about what they want to accomplish. Instead, they allow events to dictate what they do. Events rarely work in your favor as they are often the crises of others, and you end up working on other people’s plans and doing nothing for your goals.

If you know what you want to accomplish before you start the day, you are much clearer on what you want and are likely to make sure it happens.

4. Look at the Big Picture

Another way you can achieve mental clarity is by looking at the big picture. Too often we get caught up in trivialities and lose sight of the big picture of what and why we are doing something. Have you ever felt like you were just ticking boxes? That’s what happens when we get caught up in the process and lose sight of the reasons why we are doing something.

When you remind yourself of what you want and why you are doing it, you remain much clearer on what and why you are doing something.

5. Be Clear About Your Outcomes

Linked to the previous point, never lose sight of what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Too often, a process is set out before a project starts and nobody ever pauses to ask if what you are doing every day is moving you in the right direction. It’s often a case of “shut up, we’re making progress.” Yet, if that progress is taking you further and further away from what you are trying to accomplish, it will just be wasted effort.

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Review your outcomes frequently. For example, if you want to lose weight, the process is simple—eat less, move more. But if you are eating less and moving more and your weight is not going down, you need to review your outcome and decide what needs to change to achieve the result you want.

6. Identify What Is Important to You

If you don’t know where you are going, how will you ever know when you get there? Human beings are amazing creatures. We are also unique because we are the only living beings who can make choices, which is the cause of many of our problems.

If you plant a tree, all a tree can do is grow to its maximum potential given its environment. All living beings except humans have no choice—they grow to their full potential.

On the other hand, humans can choose, and most people choose not to live to their maximum potential. We’d rather lounge around on the sofa doomscrolling our social media feeds instead of working on ourselves to make us better.

If you want to live your life to its maximum potential, decide what is important to you and do everything in your power to make it happen. When you know what you want and why you want it, you are 80% of the way there. The remaining 20% is the effort you put in to achieve it.

7. Be Aware of the 5 Key Self-Care Areas

There are five areas of life you need to make sure you are working on every day. These are sleep, food, water, exercise, and planning.[2]

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  • Sleep: If you are not getting enough sleep, your brain function will drop significantly. There will be a drop in your ability to remember, concentrate, fight illness, and many more. You will not have much mental clarity if you are not getting enough sleep.
  • Food: What you put in your body nourishes you. If what you put into your body is high in refined carbs, sugar, and unhealthy fat, your body has to work much harder to maintain your body’s equilibrium, and it does that by using blood and enzymes. Basically, the worse the food (and drink) you put into your body, the less oxygenated blood you will have for brain function. This is why we get the afternoon slump—too much carbohydrate causes a reaction in your body where you get an insulin spike in your blood, and that is why you feel drowsy (better quality food = better quality brain function).
  • Water: One of the first things to go when you begin to dehydrate is your ability to concentrate. In extreme dehydration cases, you will experience confusion and other debilitating symptoms, but even a small drop in your hydration will result in you not being able to focus or have clarity.[3] Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Exercise: Exercise is one of the best ways to regain clarity. Our brains function at their best when we are moving. For most of human existence, we were the hunted rather than the hunter, which meant we were on the menus of many predators. This led to our brains developing as a survival mechanism that works best when we are in flight. Of course, today, we are unlikely to be on the menu of a predator, but your brain does not know that. This is why when you feel stressed, you want to move. So, if you want more clarity, go for a walk or run or go to the gym.
  • Planning: If you want to be clearer on what you are doing each day, then have a plan. It does not have to be a plan that micromanages your day. All you need is a list of things that you know must be done today. When you begin the day knowing what must be accomplished, you’ll be surprised how focused you will be.

8. Be Careful What You Allow Through the Gates of Your Mind

Jim Rohn taught: “Every day, stand guard at the door of your mind, and you alone decide what thoughts and beliefs you let into your life. For they will shape whether you feel rich or poor, cursed or blessed.”

If you start your day reading the news or scrolling through social media feeds, you allow negativity into your mind. Once that negativity gets into your mind, it will affect your whole day.

Protect what gets into your head. Begin your day with nature. If you can, look outside, enjoy the rain, the snow, or the sunshine. Bask in awe that is the world around you.

9. Have a Healthy Morning Routine

One of the most potent ways to bring greater mental clarity into your life is to practice a consistent positive morning routine that focuses you on your day. This does not need to be complicated—just a few minutes of stretching while drinking your morning lemon water or perhaps ten minutes of meditation or journaling and a few minutes reviewing your plan for the day.

If you can allow yourself thirty minutes each morning to spend on yourself, practice some self-care and reflection, you will realize that clarity comes to you rather than you having to seek clarity.

10. Unplug

Doomscrolling is a thing, and it does untold damage to your mental well-being. Looking through endless negative news about this leader or that leader, about death and destruction, about how unfair the world is, and people portraying fictional perfect lives that just make you feel inadequate will never make you feel better.

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Instead, read a book. Learn something new or meditate. Turn off your devices, relax, and be grateful about what you have rather than being disappointed about what you don’t have. When you feel happy and relaxed, you will be much more clear about your life and where you want to be. You will enjoy the journey of self-improvement—of focusing on what is right about your world rather than what is wrong.

11. Journal

Journaling is one of the best ways to get mental clarity. It allows you to stream your thoughts onto a page and when you see those thoughts and ideas on a page, you gain much more clarity on what they mean to you and what you can do—if there’s any—about them.

Journaling allows you space to measure where you are and where you want to be without distraction and noise from the outside world. It is your space. When you build a journaling habit in your morning routine, you add a powerful mindfulness tool to your repertoire that will help your ability gain mental clarity.

12. Get Rid of the Toxic People in Your Life

Finally, remove the toxic people from your life. You do not need them. Toxic people fill your world with negativity, confusion, and emotions that do not help you gain clarity about your life. Instead, they fill your life with doubt and confusion, and none of these will help you gain greater mental clarity.

Key Takeaways

In a world dominated by 24-hour negative news cycles, where everyone seems to be fighting to show off their “perfect lives,” and where we are bombarded by marketing messages, regaining your mental clarity may be difficult. But these 12 simple strategies can help you do just that.

Focus on your life and try to become a beacon of hope and positivity in this world, and you will feel so much happier about yourself. You will be relaxed, focused, and ready for any obstacle that comes your way.

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More Tips on How to Improve Your Mental Clarity

Featured photo credit: Eli DeFaria via unsplash.com

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Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on October 4, 2021

How to Stay on Task And Avoid Distractions

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How to Stay on Task And Avoid Distractions

It has become more challenging to stay on task and avoid distractions. Unfortunately, the great benefits of today’s technologies have also become the biggest enemies of focused action. The pandemic has, of course, made its own corrections in the way we manage our time, business, family, and life. Did you know that the time-tracking market will increase worldwide by roughly 21 percent by 2025?[1]

With more and more distractions appearing in our daily lives, it’s understandable that people keep pushing themselves to squeeze every minute out of the day. But only a few realize that outside distractions are fairly easy to avoid compared to our inner triggers.

Mistakenly, we blame only outside distractions, thinking that they mess with our ability to stay on task and make it almost impossible to avoid them. However, our inner triggers are what play the biggest role in focused and productive action. While external triggers are cues from our environment that tell us what to do next, inner triggers are cues from within us. For example, when we’re hungry, we are cued to get something to eat and so on. Understanding what kind of trigger is pursuing you to take certain actions will help you determine the best solution to stay on task.

While distractions are everywhere, it’s not impossible to minimize them. Distractions itself is a topic long, wide, and deep enough for a book at least. On Amazon alone, there are more than 9000 books with a “distraction” on the cover. This once again proves our need for solid tools, systems, and new approaches to help us stay on task and avoid distractions.

Here is my formula for you to stay on task. It is not your typical “turn off your phone” and “close your emails” type of list. This formula has been crafted over years of experience, research, and knowledge. It looks deeper than external pings, rings, and dings.

I aim to give you a different perspective on how you are managing your time, attention, and decision-making. If used with one mind and willingness to truly build a skill to stay on task, this formula might be just the right read for you.

1. Manage Your Attention Before Trying to Manage Your Time

We can manage our time better if we can manage our attention. Time management depends a lot on attention, focus, and flow management, rather than planning and scheduling. Although technical support is a big part of focused action, if we lack prioritizing and attentiveness, we will eventually waste time one way or the other and make it difficult for us to stay on task. Therefore, getting clear on our intention behind the task is crucial for staying on it and not getting distracted.

Do you want to be more productive and feel good about what you accomplish at the end of the day? Do you want to have time to learn a new skill, building a better service so you can create more impact? Do you want to protect yourself from distraction, unwanted information, and more wasted time? Whatever your reasoning, if you can focus, you can get more important things done in less time. In that way, the focus is the ultimate “productivity hack.”

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We all have the same 24 hours. But what matters more than the length of time you put into a task is the intensity of focus because if you have an intensity of focus, you can reduce the amount of time spent doing it to get the same or better results. Even if you’re not in a state of flow, focus helps you get more out of the day.

A study from the University of California at Irvine found that, on average, participants (who worked in the tech field) could only work on a project for 11 minutes before being distracted. What’s worse is that it took them more than 25 minutes to regain their focus.[2]

Focus keeps you productive. It’s what determines whether you do what you want to or spend the day distracted. But it goes much deeper than this.

Being focused allows us to choose the life we want to live, not just react to what’s happening around us. So, let me give you some ideas on how to increase your attentiveness. If you want to improve your focus, you have to do more than just make yourself pay attention. Focus is as much about what you’re paying attention to as what you’re blocking out because unfortunately, the world around us is incredibly distracting and it makes challenging for our brain to focus on a task.

Learn How to Take Control of Your Technologies

There is no escaping from technology, but we need to understand that it is here to serve us, not the other way around. Many of the default settings on our devices are set to take our attention away, and it’s up to you to change them.

Create a Focus-Friendly Work Environment

This plays a massive role in your ability to focus., yet most of us don’t think much of it. Getting rid of clutter, organizing your stuff so you don’t waste time trying to find things, avoiding outside noise and unnecessary interruptions are what will help you stay on task.

Stop Multitasking

If you haven’t heard it enough times already, multitasking is a myth. When we try to do more than one thing at a time, we’re just quickly switching back and forth between the tasks. This isn’t very efficient, and it makes us more stressed. Even worse, the more you multitask, the more your brain looks for more things to do at once. It’s like your training your brain to be unproductive. However, focusing on one task at a time rebuilds your focus, lowers stress, and can even make you more creative.

2. Declutter Your Mind as Well as Your Desk

Clear space creates a clear head. It increases productivity and saves us from distractions. But clearing your desk is very technical. It’s fairly easy doable and repeatable. If you have a system in place that you love, you would only have to declutter once, and then you would just follow your path where clutter gets thrown away regularly. This allows for constant rotation of creative energy giving you space to evolve.

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However, a tidy space actually can keep you on the task only for that long. It can give you only that much of a clear head and distraction-less space. While it immensely helps to shift the energy, it will not keep you distraction-less forever, and this is where your mindset comes in. The “clear space creates clear head” is only partly true.

Clear space gives us more clear mind for that moment, but this is not your long-term solution. If you would have managed to keep your workspace clean, clutter-free, you would still have thoughts. According to research, an average person has 6000 thoughts every day![3]

Will a decluttered space be able to help you with all of them? No! But this is where the mindset work comes in. No tool, tip, trick, or hack will be able to solve your timing or focus issues. Only you can do that because you are the one in charge of your time, your commitments, your schedule, your plan, and also your mind.

If you ever tried to meditate, you know that it takes time to clear your head from thoughts, calm the mind, and thrive in presence. And it is definitely one practice that can help you understand how your mind works. If you are having difficulty staying on task, then it’s time to look for the cause.

If you think that another great new productivity app will solve your problems and you will finally be able to stay on task, it will not support your long-term vision. Yes, it might help for a month or two, but then what? Are you willing to go back and search for other solutions while your to-do list keeps growing and your time freedom is non-existent?

It is great to start by decluttering the mind. Support it with decluttered space on your way to great focus and productive work. Ask yourself: What is blocking you from undivided attention? Have you ever thought that you could be keeping yourself busy to feel worthy of your income? It’s a clue to your limiting beliefs! Imagine if you could replace that with a success mindset, how would your focus increase? It’s taking one mindset block at a time and working through it.

3. Work on Your Pain

What does pain have to do with focus? We waste our time when we get distracted, and we get distracted all the time. Imagine how much you would be able to achieve if you would stay focused on the task for that scheduled time, commit to that task and get it done. Who knows? You might even finish it in half the time you planned.

But let me explain to you something about pain. We allow ourselves to get distracted because it’s our decision to check that ping, ring, and ding. We decide to focus somewhere else when that ring comes knocking. We make that choice because of the pain. We feel discomfort, and we all love comfort, right? Our natural way of avoiding pain and discomfort is what makes us lean towards distractions rather than stay on task. It’s worth looking deeper and understand what are the underlying issues that you’re trying to avoid when distracted.

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Working on that pain will help you stay focused and committed to even the hardest of tasks. If you’re committed to your growth in all areas, it’s up to you to stay on task even when you don’t feel like it.

I challenge you to look where that pain is coming from that causes you to get distracted. Find it, and let it go so you can be attentive, present, and focused.

4. Rewrite Your Habits

We are in charge of building our success habits, so what are you working on today to allow yourself to stay on task with as little effort as possible? Below are the most common distracting habits that probably have been creeping into your daily routine as well.

Stop Adding Things to Your To-Do List

To-do lists give you too much flexibility, too much freedom of choice, and too much space for procrastination to creep in. Everything you’re planning to do, schedule it in your calendar instead. Plan your tasks, and put timing next to every task. Like that, you will create space for important tasks, prioritize wiser, and won’t be able to overbook your time.

If you think about it, putting your tasks into your calendar creates well-deserved peace of mind, gives you much more freedom, and keeps you productive. You’re no longer overshadowed by your never-ending to-do list that keeps growing by minutes and never gets completed. Staying committed to your calendar is a part that can’t be avoided if you want to stay on task. If it’s on your calendar, you have already committed to doing it. You have already decided that something is important enough to get on our calendar, so it’s worth your focus.

Stop Notifying Yourself and Scrolling Your Screen

Checking notifications, emails, messages as they come in. That “beep” sound distracts you in a fraction of a second, but unfortunately, it takes much longer to get back into your creative flow after an innocent “I will just quickly check-it might be urgent.”

For better productivity, you should set certain times when you allow yourself to check emails and it should not be more than twice a day. Seriously, it is enough times (I’m talking from experience). Scrolling through social media is nothing new, yet it still is the biggest time-waster. You get sucked into random posts only to realize that another 20 minutes have passed without creating results for your future. Mind your own business (literally), and create before you consume.

Stop Acting Like You’re Superhuman

Multitasking is not an admirable ability, it’s destructive behavior. You have probably heard about it, but let me remind you again: trying to do more than one thing at a time diminishes your productivity. The human brain simply isn’t designed to multitask. Your brain slows down as it switches between tasks, which takes more time and makes you less efficient.

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Focusing on one thing at a time will make you more effective. If you’re taking too many breaks, you end up lingering and not getting your focus back. Schedule your break to keep yourself in check and focused. Too many breaks lead to more wasted time. Oftentimes, it means working when exhausted. All it does is create more exhaustion and more mistakes. You may also end up facing burnout.

Do yourself a favor and make sleep a priority. The time you spend resting will pay off when you’re awake and ready to take on the world. Once you are clear on what wasted your time, create a to-don’t list to get clear on things you know you should not be doing.

5. Find Traction

We are used to thinking that the opposite of distraction is focus—where we are fully present, attentive, and focused on what it is that we are doing. But the opposite of distraction is actually “traction,” and traction from Latin is an action that pulls you towards what you want to do. So, distractions are actions that pull you away from what you want to do, and tractions are actions that move you towards what you want to do. This means that any action can be either a distraction or traction depending on what you intend to do with your time.

There’s nothing wrong with scrolling through your Facebook feed, watching YouTube videos, or playing a video game, as long as that’s what you intend to do. It’s when you do things unintentionally that you get into trouble. When you get pulled away from what you need to do to avoid discomfort, to avoid that hard work or that pressure dealing with a specific task, that’s when you allow yourself to get distracted.

So, if you’re asking if it’s possible to avoid distractions, the answer is yes. But you don’t want to do it! You want to notice these moments of discomfort and understand what causes you to get distracted. What are you trying to avoid? Why are you letting yourself get pulled away from things that you need to do?

If we dig deeper, we can see things for what they are, including ourselves, our believes, our thoughts, and anything that sabotages our focus without us realizing it.

Final Thoughts

Distractions are a very wide range of things. They are everywhere, looking for you to bring your attention to them. The good news is that you can stay on task if only you choose to. You are in charge, and now that you have a better insight into your triggers, it will hopefully allow you to get less distracted and more focused.

No matter what your distractions are, you are in control of your time, what you do with it, and where you spend it. Be sure to keep that control in your hands.

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Featured photo credit: Surface via unsplash.com

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