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3 Steps to Organize Your Thoughts And 10X Your Productivity

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3 Steps to Organize Your Thoughts And 10X Your Productivity

Feel like your brain is overwhelmed with too many thoughts? Wondering how to organize your thoughts? You’re not alone.

Our minds are basically organized like human computers. They function to a great extent in much the same way. So, if we want to improve our daily productivity, we need to empty the cache of temporary “files” and reboot for our brains to allow us perform at our peak levels.

Otherwise we can easily experience brain overload with too many circuits firing simultaneously and so many programs (thoughts) working in the shadows that we often “freeze up”. This will make us unable to remember everything or simply process the information in a less efficient manner than we’d like.

It sounds odd but when you stop to consider, it actually makes sense.

By making it a habit to set aside a few minutes each day to empty and organize your brain, you can drastically improve your ability to focus, complete tasks and achieve your goals.

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A streamlined mind is much more effective than a perpetually overloaded one.

In addition, an overloaded brain forgets things, important tasks, details and deadlines. The quality of our output suffers as well. We are simply unable to concentrate and use our intelligence and skills to their highest potential.

As a side benefit, you’ll find better balance, less stress and increased energy. Swirling thoughts cause an enormous amount of stress and prevent our minds from truly ever resting. This results in brain fatigue, which keeps us exhausted and irritable.

Organizing your thoughts isn’t really that difficult. It really only requires a few minutes each day and surprisingly simple tools to help sharpen your brain. Here’re 3 simple steps to super boost your brain power.

1. Choose Your Best Time

Ideally, this process is best done twice each day, first thing in the morning and again before bedtime, but that doesn’t work for everyone.

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Choose the time that works best for you. Any time will work. The key is to do it consistently.

I have found that I need my morning coffee, breakfast and exercise first. My brain has to wake up a bit. I apparently need a caffeine kick, fuel and stress release in order to form coherent thoughts.

2. Choose Your Method of Logging

Any productivity or note-taking apps on your phone will work well to record thoughts and tasks. If you prefer, you can use the voice-recording feature. Even the basic note function works fine.

An organizational program or document, such as Outlook, OneNote, or Evernote on your computer will work as well.

Though I tend to be a “techie” by nature, I still prefer to use a pen and pad for this process. Sometimes the simplest method is the most effective.

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Whatever tool you choose, make sure it’s quick and readily accessible.

3. Quickly Dump Everything You’re Keeping in Your Head

And I mean everything… Not just tasks but thoughts, concerns, questions, and ideas too.

Get it all out. Don’t worry about sorting them, you can do that later. Just get them out of your head so that they can stop spinning around, using up precious brainpower and space.

Once you’re finished, ask yourself if you need or want to act on any of these items today.

If the answer is yes:

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  • Add those tasks to your ongoing task or to-do list (you have one of those right?)
  • Cross them off or remove them.

If the answer is no:

  • Is it an idea? – Add it to an idea file, work notebook, or document to pursue later.
  • Is it really more of a question or concerns you have? – Record it in a journal or notebook to mull over at another time. (If you never go back to consider them, they probably weren’t that important!)

It’s that simple. It should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes!

A Tiny Habit with Great Benefits

When you’re able to let go of thoughts and responsibilities that plague you, you’re no longer constantly preoccupied. You’ll be better able to quiet our mind and enjoy the other parts of our lives.

When you’re not stuck in your head, you can fully engage with the rest of the world outside of you. That’s not bad for a 5 to 10 minutes investment.

    Featured photo credit: Adolfo Félix via unsplash.com

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    More by this author

    Royale Scuderi

    A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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    Last Updated on October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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