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3 Steps to Organize Your Thoughts And 10X Your Productivity

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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    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 April 19, 2021

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

    The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

    Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

    In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

    When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

    Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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    1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

    When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

    As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

    That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

    The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

    What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

    Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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    There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

    So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

    2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

    When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

    No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

    3. Move Your Body

    A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

    It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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    So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

    4. Connect With Another Person

    Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

    One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

    Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

    5. Use Your Imagination

    When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

    That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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    And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

    Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

    Final Thoughts

    Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

    Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

    More on the Importance of Taking a Break

    Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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