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How to Organize Your Thoughts: 3 Simple Steps to 10X Your Productivity

How to Organize Your Thoughts: 3 Simple Steps to 10X Your Productivity

Feel like your brain is overwhelmed with too many 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.

In this article, I’ll explain to you why organizing your thoughts is so important and introduce to you 3 simple steps to super boost your brain power.

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Organizing your mind: Why should you care?

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.

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.

3 simple steps to organize your thoughts

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.

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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.

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 number of 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.

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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.

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.

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If the answer is yes:

  • 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 we’re unable to let go of thoughts and responsibilities that plague us, we are no longer constantly preoccupied. We are better able to quiet our mind and enjoy the other parts of our lives.

When we aren’t stuck in our head, we can fully engage with the rest of the world outside us.

That’s not bad for a 5-10 minute investment.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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    Published on July 17, 2018

    How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

    How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

    I’ve never believed people are born productive or organized. Being organized and productive is a choice.

    You choose to keep your stuff organized or you don’t. You choose to get on with your work and ignore distractions or you don’t.

    But one skill very productive people appear to have that is not a choice is the ability to compartmentalize. And that takes skill and practice.

    What is compartmentalization

    To compartmentalize means you have the ability to shut out all distractions and other work except for the work in front of you. Nothing gets past your barriers.

    In psychology, compartmentalization is a defence mechanism our brains use to shut out traumatic events. We close down all thoughts about the traumatic event. This can lead to serious mental-health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if not dealt with properly.

    However, compartmentalization can be used in positive ways to help us become more productive and allow us to focus on the things that are important to us.

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    Robin Sharma, the renowned leadership coach, calls it his Tight Bubble of Total Focus Strategy. This is where he shuts out all distractions, turns off his phone and goes to a quiet place where no one will disturb him and does the work he wants to focus on. He allows nothing to come between himself and the work he is working on and prides himself on being almost uncontactable.

    Others call it deep work. When I want to focus on a specific piece of work, I turn everything off, turn on my favourite music podcast The Anjunadeep Edition (soft, eclectic electronic music) and focus on the content I intend to work on. It works, and it allows me to get massive amounts of content produced every week.

    The main point about compartmentalization is that no matter what else is going on in your life — you could be going through a difficult time in your relationships, your business could be sinking into bankruptcy or you just had a fight with your colleague; you can shut those things out of your mind and focus totally on the work that needs doing.

    Your mind sees things as separate rooms with closable doors, so you can enter a mental room, close the door and have complete focus on whatever it is you want to focus on. Your mind does not wander.

    Being able to achieve this state can seriously boost your productivity. You get a lot more quality work done and you find you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. It is a skill worth mastering for the benefits it will bring you.

    How to develop the skill of compartmentalization

    The simplest way to develop this skill is to use your calendar.

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    Your calendar is the most powerful tool you have in your productivity toolbox. It allows you to block time out, and it can focus you on the work that needs doing.

    My calendar allows me to block time out so I can remove everything else out of my mind to focus on one thing. When I have scheduled time for writing, I know what I want to write about and I sit down and my mind completely focuses on the writing.

    Nothing comes between me, my thoughts and the keyboard. I am in my writing compartment and that is where I want to be. Anything going on around me, such as a problem with a student, a difficulty with an area of my business or an argument with my wife is blocked out.

    Understand that sometimes there’s nothing you can do about an issue

    One of the ways to do this is to understand there are times when there is nothing you can do about an issue or an area of your life. For example, if I have a student with a problem, unless I am able to communicate with that student at that specific time, there is nothing I can do about it.

    If I can help the student, I would schedule a meeting with the student to help them. But between now and the scheduled meeting there is nothing I can do. So, I block it out.

    The meeting is scheduled on my calendar and I will be there. Until then, there is nothing I can do about it.

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    Ask yourself the question “Is there anything I can do about it right now?”

    This is a very powerful way to help you compartmentalize these issues.

    If there is, focus all your attention on it to the exclusion of everything else until you have a workable solution. If not, then block it out, schedule time when you can do something about it and move on to the next piece of work you need to work on.

    Being able to compartmentalize helps with productivity in another way. It reduces the amount of time you spend worrying.

    Worrying about something is a huge waste of energy that never solves anything. Being able to block out issues you cannot deal with stops you from worrying about things and allows you to focus on the things you can do something about.

    Reframe the problem as a question

    Reframing the problem as a question such as “what do I have to do to solve this problem?” takes your mind away from a worried state into a solution state, where you begin searching for solutions.

    One of the reasons David Allen’s Getting Things Done book has endured is because it focuses on contexts. This is a form of compartmentalization where you only do work you can work on.

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    For instance, if a piece of work needs a computer, you would only look at the work when you were in front of a computer. If you were driving, you cannot do that work, so you would not be looking at it.

    Choose one thing to focus on

    To get better at compartmentalizing, look around your environment and seek out places where you can do specific types of work.

    Taking your dog for a walk could be the time you focus solely on solving project problems, commuting to and from work could be the time you spend reading and developing your skills and the time between 10 am and 12 pm could be the time you spend on the phone sorting out client issues.

    Once you make the decision about when and where you will do the different types of work, make it stick. Schedule it. Once it becomes a habit, you are well on your way to using the power of compartmentalization to become more productive.

    Comparmentalization saves you stress

    Compartmentalization is a skill that gives you time to deal with issues and work to the exclusion of all other distractions.

    This means you get more work done in less time and this allows you to spend more time with the people you want to spend more time with, doing the things you want to spend more time doing.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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