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Published on February 24, 2021

12 Simple Strategies To Improve Your Mental Clarity

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.

More Tips on How to Improve Your Mental Clarity

Featured photo credit: Eli DeFaria via unsplash.com

Reference

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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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Published on April 8, 2021

10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

Want to know what Steve Jobs thought was the ultimate key in achieving success?

“Focus and simplicity… once you get there, you can move mountains.”—Steve Jobs

And this belief is even more important today than it was years ago. At your fingertips is a literal world of information and entertainment. So, it’s no wonder we all have such wandering minds nowadays.

Thanks to the internet and smartphones, attention is practically a currency we should be more budget-minded about. In fact, a person who can stay focused is not only more likely to get more done but also be more satisfied at the end of the day because of it.

Going further, a person who’s focused will more easily achieve their goals—anything from losing 20 pounds to getting a promotion at work is within the reach of this type of person.

So, in the spirit of that idea, here are 10 ways to tame that wandering mind of yours and turn it into a laser-focused brain that gets things done.

1. Find Your Totem

Remember the totem in the movie, Inception? It’s an item that reminded people they weren’t in a dream when they touched it, and it was able to keep them grounded in reality.

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You can replicate this idea when it comes to staying focused as well. All you’ve to got to do is find something to be your “focus totem,” and it’ll remind you that you should stop daydreaming and get back to work. Ideally, it’s something you can see and touch.

In the movie, a chess piece and a spinning top were used—both are good ideas. You could also use a picture of your family, a mini trophy, or even wear a ring to focus your mind as well. (In fact, a green lantern ring might be kind of cool for this.)

2. Promise a Reward

Incentives are an obvious way to go. Having gold at the end of any journey makes you want to press forward just for the sweet results. In general, rewards should correlate to the difficulty/length of the work.

For example:

  • Finish a quick house chore = a piece of chocolate
  • Complete an annoying administrative task = 10 minutes of Youtube
  • A successful day of work = a whole movie on Netflix

Pretty simple stuff, right? But you’d be surprised how often you forget to reward yourself for doing solid work on the regular.

3. Make It Stupid Easy for Your Wandering Mind

I don’t know about you, but if I perceive my work to require more effort than I care to use, I’m instantly turned off. This then leads to distraction and procrastination. But you can offset this by breaking a difficult task into a bite-sized piece.

Case in point, what seems easier: 30 pushups or 3 pushups?

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It’s obvious, but sometimes our brains need to be “convinced” we’re only doing a small amount of work to get things going.

But here’s something cool about this tactic: You can (and most likely will) keep going past your stupid easy benchmark. You don’t have to, but my experience tells me once you get going like this, it’s easy to go beyond your bare minimum goal.

4. Empty Your Mind With Journaling

Sometimes, there’s too much stuff floating around in your brain that is making your mind wander. In that case, it can help to spill everything in your head onto a journal to free up some space. You can use a pen and pad for this or something digital like Evernote.

There are two basic ways to go about it:

  1. Freestyle – where you just write whatever randomly flows through your brain without thinking or pausing. This is great if you’ve got a million different ideas racing through your brain.
  2. Focused – where you create prompts or an outline to streamline your thinking and you just respond to the questions or format. This is best when you want to grasp a certain topic.

5. Use the “Just 5 Minutes” Method

Try telling yourself that you’ll work for “just 5 minutes” and then you can stop. You’ll find that the task feels far easier to handle. And like the “stupid easy” method, this tricks your brain into thinking the task is lower effort than it really is. After all, 5 minutes for even the worst task is psychologically manageable for any person out there.

The key is to honestly allow yourself to stop at 5 minutes—no matter what. That’s what allows your brain to accept the method as legit and also lets it overcome the mental hurdle that makes your brain want to wander around and focus on anything but your task.

6. Recite a Focus Mantra

I like to think of mantras as a totem you can take with you anywhere you go. They serve the same purpose—reminding you to stay focused—but can be done anywhere and anytime.

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I find the most powerful type of mantra to be based on reality. I learned this approach from Dr. Jon Fader—a performance coach who was on “Good Morning America”—and his book Life as Sport: What Top Athletes Can Teach You about How to Win in Life. He calls this “objective optimism.”

Basically, you create a mantra that’s based on personal success in your life. That way, the mantra isn’t just a fluffy positivity statement, there’s also the weight of real-life success giving it power

Some examples:

  • If you’re struggling to make yourself go to the gym but have technically been there many times already, you could say, “just another day of heading to the gym—easy.”
  • If you’re suffering from impostor-syndrome after accepting a promotion, just say, “I’m here for a reason” to remind yourself that your efforts were recognized by others and are the real deal.
  • If you’re nervous about an upcoming sports competition but have trained diligently for it, you could say, “I’ve done all the work possible” to remind yourself that your earlier efforts have created the best version of you for the event.

As you can see, the most powerful mantras are evidence-based and positive. So, just find proof of relevant success in your life and transform it into a motivating mantra.

7. Use the “Multi-Yawn” Approach

One of the best ways to be distracted is to be tired. And sometimes, you’ll be tired in such a way that you’re “sort of” working but not realize that you’re actually constantly distracted.

If you can notice when you do this, one thing I like to do is crank out as many big, satisfying yawns as possible. Olympic athletes sometimes do this before their big events. It calms them down and helps them perform better in the process. And it works just as well for us regular folks. I find it has a similar effect to taking a good nap (and actually works best in unison), so you can imagine how effective this can be.

8. Find an Easy Win

Nothing feels good like winning. So, it can help to find a few simple tasks you can do with little effort and just get them done immediately. This will create momentum and propel your productivity forward. The feeling of success will lock your focus in on the task at hand and refocus your wandering mind. Use this when you feel “resistance” to getting your work started.

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9. Create a “Wins” List

Feeling like a capable person who can win at life is motivating in and of itself. In light of this fact, it can help to have an ongoing “wins” list to prove you’re an able person.

Just keep track of all your daily wins—big and small. And whenever your focus starts to wane, give that list a peek and remind yourself that you’re more capable than you realize.

10. Add Stakes to the Mix

If you were to lose $20 if you failed to complete a task, would you be more focused on completing it? Of course!

Try and find ways to put something on the line when it comes to completing your tasks, and you’ll find your focus, motivation, and ability to things done to be higher than ever before.

For example, if you’re at work, you could involve a co-worker by saying you’ll buy their food if you don’t complete a task before lunchtime rolls around. At home, you could say you’ll also mow the lawn if you don’t remember to wash the dishes before the day is over. Or you could just use something like Beeminder or TaskRatchet, which actually charges you cash for failing to complete a task or goal on time. (It’s scary but effective)

All are viable methods, so just give one of them a shot.

Who Else Wants More Success?

Of the many methods of winning at life out there, focusing is definitely a top-three contender. You can’t get anything you want in life if you don’t buckle down and get your work done—a wandering mind won’t create success.

But with these 10 focus tips, you’ll be ahead of the competition and be closer to a fitter body, higher income, and a flat-out better life than before.

More Tips on Sharpening Your Focus

Featured photo credit: Clay Banks via unsplash.com

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