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How to Un-Clutter Your Mind and Stay Focused on Life Essentials

How to Un-Clutter Your Mind and Stay Focused on Life Essentials

After my graduation, I decided to not to pursue my Master’s degree: I wanted to start a business right away. I was pretty sure that 2 years of MBA studies might not be the right choice if I could already start creating and getting experience from tiny businesses, which could save me from my hatred of predefined learning systems that would produce just one more industry laborer .

Everything comes with a price however, and starting a business without much experience and without a circle or sequential learning that could take it further is risky.

You know it’s risky, but you might not be aware of just how risky it is. That’s when your mind begins to guide your thoughts. Of course, this article isn’t about business itself, but the correlations between business and instances in which you try to do, and be, something different from the norm, strongly relate together.

When you strive to be different, your thoughts are trying to find a way to feel different, safe, and yet totally relevant.

What clutters your thought process anyway?

Our mind is programmed to survive and generate. We are not really adventurous by nature unless adventure tucks itself into our lives—we’re happy if life passes happily, but there’s this contradiction: When you’re in the generation phase of your life, where you have high levels of creativity, you also have high levels of hormones running through your body, telling you to do something different; something that makes you stand out, stand tall.

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When you’re in the survival phase of your life, you are continuously working towards survival—you just want to do what’s necessary and nothing more. A new-born child is in the survival mode, just like a senior citizen is.

Problems arise when your mind is torn between the two, mixing one priority with another. That’s what happens with young adults, who want to do something great in life, but simultaneously, the world around them is trying to teach them survival.

For a moment, the world around them might advise (or even force) them to shut off their creativity and work towards survival, if not greatness.

Is your life suffering because of your ghost thoughts?

When that kind of confusion happens, there are five ghosts that disturb your thought process. When you’re on the path of self-discovery, these mental situations emerge:

1. Resentment: Nothing seems perfect. People are not the way you want them to be, situations are totally opposite and your mind is guiding you the other way out. It even encourages you to quit and lead a punished life.

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2. Jealousy: Jealousy and Guilt often go together. You want to be something but you don’t want others to be what you’re not!

3. Guilt: You see people around you getting ahead in life, but you still feel that you’re going nowhere. It literally pushes your thoughts fast forward and makes you think about what isn’t going to be okay and how everyone else is doing fine.

4. Depression: When you aren’t allowed to do what you want to do, or can do, this ghost strikes.

5. Fear: Society wants you to be different. It appreciates differences, but the very reason it does that is because people surround themselves with cultural and social bonds that help people survive.

Fear discourages you, makes you feel incompetent, makes you notice all you lack. It disturbs your simplified thinking making it more diverse and logical. You can’t ignore these “ghosts: they make you anxious and overwhelmed, but you have to face them anyway. Every level of success demands a certain amount of work, and demands that you be willing enough to ignore these 5 ghosts of fear. Are you ready to pay for what it has to offer?

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After graduation, I began to study social psychology. These ghost thoughts kept appearing time to time, but, every day, I would start anew, and somehow survived them. Somehow, I’ve learned to ignore them. I learned to ignore the very reasons I should quit and go back, and thankfully, I’m not the only one who did this! There are hundreds more and many more to come!

How to ignore these 5 ghosts thoughts and stay focused

Be passionate. It sounds simple, but really that’s all there is to it: be obsessed. There’s nothing more.

I can’t tell you what to be passionate about, but I’m sure there is one thing you can’t resist doing, no matter what the cost of doing it may be. You’ve to experiment: via trial and error, you’ll find the activity you most enjoy doing. One way to determine where your passion lies is by procrastinating, of all things.

Suggesting that you procrastinate might seem like pretty dumb advice to give someone who’s already in chaos, but even in the mists of the worst procrastination, you’re doing something—when you are procrastinating, be aware that your passion is silently guiding your actions: the things you do when you procrastinate are probably the things you should be doing for the rest of your life. This isn’t necessarily because you’re passionate about it, but because your mind virtually ignores the ghost thoughts when you’re immersed in what you’re doing.

What you should learn from these ghost thoughts?

Ghost thoughts are simply a mode of survival psychology that’s created at the back of your brain. These thoughts pop up in an attempt to keep you safe, and  to keep you from taking on that adventure. If you give in to them, you’ll have to wait a long long time before you get anywhere in life.

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After graduation, I started giving interviews, and applied Ramit Sethi’s Briefcase Technique (Similar to Nap Hill’s technique on getting the perfect job you want, as described in Think and Grow Rich). I appeared in about 57 interviews over next 3 years, and my love for social psychology pushed me to cross the limits and figure out a technique that you can use whenever these brutal ghost thoughts appear.

I call it ” The Thought Stream Method“.

“The Thought Stream Method”

Here’s how you do it: keep a diary in which you can write down your day-to-day activities, and try to make a habit of doing so every evening, before you go to bed. Make two columns. Contemplate what you’ve been thinking all day, and then list your everyday thoughts in the left-hand column, and what you really need to focus on in the right column.

Here, you are actually streaming your thoughts out of your mind as you write and creating new, positive streams of incoming thoughts through subconscious notifications. With less than 5 minutes of work every evening, you’ll get up fresh and focused every morning. This technique may seem far too simple, but it does require quite a bit of daily work. Usually, it takes around a week or two to settle your mental disputes.

Ultimately, the best way to un-clutter your mind is to be utterly passionate about your goal. I could teach you a hundred techniques to help you focus, but if you are not passionate enough about a goal, you’ll lose track easily.

Featured photo credit:  Swallow in front of the sun via Shutterstock

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7 Simple Steps to Build a Successful Mindset How to Un-Clutter Your Mind and Stay Focused on Life Essentials How to Cultivate Willpower? 4 Simple Ways to stimulate your abilities to achieve your goals. How to Revamp your Life and Stop Procrastinating in Two Months

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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