Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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?

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

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

Trending in Productivity

1 7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions 2 How to Set Short Term Goals for a Successful Life 3 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020 4 What Is a Habit? Understand It to Control It 100% 5 5 Key Traits of a Charismatic Leadership

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on December 9, 2019

7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

The world has become a very distracting place, you don’t need me to tell you that. Where once we could walk out of our house or office and disappear into our own world with our own thoughts, we are now connected 24 hours a day to a network that’s sole purpose is to make us available to anyone and everyone at any time they choose to disturb us.

Of course, it is very easy to sit here and say all you have to do is turn off your electronic devices and just allow yourself several hours of quiet solitude; but the reality is far harder than that. There is an expectation that we are available for anyone whenever they want us.

However, if you do want to elevate yourself and perform at your best every day, to produce work of a higher quality than anyone expects and to regain control over what you do and when you will need to regain some control over your time, so you can focus on producing work that matters to you…

The good news: You do not have to become a recluse. All you need are a few simple strategies that will allow you enough flexibility in your day to stay focused to do the work that matters and still allow you to deal with other people’s crises and dramas.

Here are 7 ways you can stay focused and be less distracted.

1. Find out When You Are at Your Most Focused

According to research, brilliantly documented by Daniel Pink in his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, our brains have a limited capacity to stay focused each day.[1]

From the moment we wake up to the time we turn in for the day, we are using up our brain’s limited energy resources and, depending on the time of day, we will be moving between strong concentration and low concentration.

This means that for most people, their optimum time for sustained concentration and focus will be soon after they wake up. For others, it could be later in the evening—a kind of second wind—but that is rare.

Advertising

Once you understand this, you can take time to learn when you are at your best and to protect that time on your calendar as much as possible. If you can, block it off and use that time for the work you need to do that requires the most concentration each day.

2. Get Comfortable Using ‘Do Not Disturb’ Mode

We have the ability to switch our electronic devices to do not disturb mode. Where all notifications are off and your phone or computer will not alert you to a new email or message.

Now after testing this function for a number of years, I can happily report that it does work.

When I sat down to write this article, I put all my electronic devices to do not disturb, closed down my email and began writing. I am safe in the knowledge that until this article is written, and I turn do not disturb off, there will be no interruptions or distractions.

Of course, it is not really about whether do not disturb works or not, it is whether you are willing to turn it on or not.

Most people believe they have to be constantly available for their boss or customers. This is not true at all. What has happened is because of your always available status, you have conditioned these people to turn to you first whenever they have a problem.

You are not actually helping them at all. You are preventing them from having to think for themselves and develop the skill of problem-solving. By not being so readily available, you help them a lot more.

What it comes down to is your boss and customers are going to be far more positive with you, if you deliver your work to the highest quality and on time than you being available 24/7. Trust me on that. I also tested that one.

Advertising

3. Schedule Focus Time Every Day

This technique is a lot easier than you may think.

First, you figure out when you are least likely to be disturbed. For me, that is between 6 and 9 am. for a lot of my clients, they find the first 90 minutes in the morning at their workplace is when they are not likely to be disturbed. This is important because you want to be building consistency.

Most people start their day by checking their email and other messages. While they are doing that, they are not going to be bothering you. Now there is no rule about when you should be checking your email. The chances are email is not going to be where you want to spend your most focused time, so you can decide to check your email at say 10:30 am.

Dedicate 30 minutes from 10:30 am to 11:00 am for email processing and use the first 90 minutes of your day for doing your most important work. You will surprise yourself by how much work you get done in that ninety minutes.

4. Plan Your Day the Night Before

One of the inevitabilities of life is there is always a plan for the day. The choice is whether the plan you have is a plan of your own making or not. If you don’t have a plan, then the day will take control of you. Other people’s priorities, urgencies and dramas will fill your day. As the late Jim Rohn said:

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

If you take control and make it a habit to plan out what you want to accomplish the next day before you go to bed, you will find yourself staying more focused on your work and be less likely disturbed.

Now when I say plan your day the night before, I do not mean you need to spend an hour or so planning and mapping out every minute of the day. Planning your day should only take you around 10 to 15 minutes and you only need to decide what 10 things you want to complete — 2 “must do” objective tasks and 8 “would like to do” tasks. What I call the 2+8 Prioritisation Technique:

Advertising

Do not be tempted to go beyond 10 tasks for the day. When you do that, you do not have enough flexibility in your day to handle crises and other unknown issues that will pop up throughout the day.

When you do not build in flexibility, you will soon stop planning your day. Only plan tasks that will have the biggest positive impact on your work and projects.

5. Learn to Say “No”

I am sure you’ve been told this before. We are wired to please and this results in us wanting to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. The problem is we cannot do everything and every time you say “yes” to one opportunity, you are saying “no” to another opportunity. You cannot be in two places at the same time.

Jay Shetty shared an inspiring video on JOMO “Joy Of Missing Out”. Here’s the video:

Rather than allowing ourselves to be succumbed by FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out), we should replace that ‘fear’ with the “joy” of missing out. Because of our need to please, we say yes to things we really don’t want to do; yet when we do that, we miss out on doing things that bring us joy—creating something special, spending time educating ourselves and just having some quiet alone time with ourselves.

Learn to say “no” every time you get a notification to your phone. Ignore it. Learn to say “no” to your colleagues when they want to gossip. Learn to say “no” to volunteering when the thing you are being asked to volunteer for does not excite you. Just learn to say “no”.

By saying “no” to opportunities, distractions and interruptions, you are saying yes to better and more meaningful things. Things you do want to focus your attention on.

6. Create a Distraction-Free Environment for Your Focused Time

This has been possibly the most powerful tip I learned when it comes to focusing on what is important. Have a place where you do only focused, high-concentration work.

Advertising

Now this place needs to be clean and only have the tools you need to do your work. If it is writing a report or preparing a presentation, then it needs a table and a computer, nothing more. Files, paper and other detritus that accumulates on and around people’s desks need to go. A clean, cool and well-lit environment is going to do a lot more for your focus and concentration than anything else.

The dining table in our home is where I go for undisturbed, focussed work. I take my laptop or iPad, and only have my writing app open. Everything is closed down and the computer is in “do not disturb” mode. There is nothing else on the dining table just my computer and my water tumbler.

Because that is my designated focus area, I only go there to work when I have something that needs total focus and concentration. I am there right now!

7. Be Intentional

The reality is, if you absolutely need to get something done then you need to be intentional. You have to have the intention of sitting down, focusing and doing the work.

There’s no magic tricks or apps that will miraculously do all your work for you. You need to intentionally set aside time for undisturbed focus work and do it. Without that intention, you can read as many of these articles as you like and you still will not get the work done.

It is only when you intentionally set yourself up to do the work, turn off all notifications and do whatever it takes to avoid distractions will the work get done.

The Bottom Line

The strategies and tips I shared in this post will go a long way to helping you become better at focusing on the important things in your life. No matter what they are, you are in control of your time and what you do with it and where you spend it, never give that control away to anyone else.

Protect it and it will be your servant. Give that control away and it will become your master and that is not a good place to be.

More About Staying Focused

Featured photo credit: Manny Pantoja via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next