Opinion

Three ways to declutter your mind and maximise productivity

Sonal Mishra
8th Sep 2016
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“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don't.” ― Joshua Becker

How often do you wake up with a rush of negative thoughts? Do you often go to bed thinking about your failures? The strings of thoughts pertaining to pending tasks, looming deadlines, personal responsibilities, daily chores and reminders, often lead to the feeling of exhaustion.

In today's world, we all lead busy lives, always rushing from one place to the next. The idea of living a simple and uncluttered life has become a luxury. The debilitating cluttered space in our heads is the most enervating. If you feel overwhelmed, anxious and defeated all the time, and decluttering your mind is on your agenda, you might find yourself tripped up by the next question - where do you begin?

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Here are three ways that will help you make space for a stress-free, emotionally-calm and productive environment:

Make a to-do list

You don't need to store everything in your head. Whether digitally or on a paper, pen down everything that comes into your mind. Choose a tool - it can be a notepad on your desktop, a smartphone, or even an app on your phone. Now use this device to store the bits and pieces of information that you need to remember. From paying bills to forming new marketing strategies and motivating the workforce, writing down your agenda for the week will help you find respite from the constant chatter inside your head.

As the winning quote of John Welch, former CEO of General Electric, goes, “The 1980s will seem like a walk in the park when compared to new global challenges, where annual productivity increases of six percent may not be enough. A combination of software, brains, and running harder will be needed to bring that percentage up to eight or nine percent.”

While writing down each point, observe and evaluate the significance of every task. As a healthy practice, set aside one day during the week to sift through priorities and regroup the tasks on the basis of their relevance. This weekly or monthly ritual will help you refocus and reenergise your mind.

Review and Compartmentalise

This is just basic physics. It is difficult for two objects to occupy the same space at the same time. If you choose to clutter your mind with negative thoughts or irrelevant ones, motivational and positive thoughts will have to take a back seat and wait for their turn. This is definitely not the best practice, especially if you want to walk the path of success.

You have to choose between negative and positive thoughts. Differentiate between productive and unproductive ones, and get rid of the ones that aren't doing anything good for you.

Spend five minutes every day to note down at least five things that you are grateful for. Appreciating what you have, which could be anything from a supportive family to an enthusiastic team, and perhaps even as trivial as the colour of the clear sky, will help you see the brighter shades of your life. Taking out time every day to consider your blessings is a good way to balance your life and eradicate negative feelings, one by one.

Stop Multitasking

Stanford University research confirms that a spreading of our focus over too many activities is not in our best interests, stating that multitasking decreases productivity by as much as 40 percent. Since our brain is wired to only focus on one thing at a time, multitasking adversely impacts efficiency and performance in the long run. The brain lacks the ability and the capacity to perform more than two tasks successfully.

For instance, watching or listening to anything while writing an email has a high chance that your cognitive capacity is being diminished to the point that you might as well let a third grader write for you. In such a situation, your brain will struggle to maintain its focus on one thing at a time, juggling between two activities and constantly creating a situation of chaos in your head.

All things will be produced in superior quantity and quality, and with greater ease, when each man works at a single occupation, in accordance with his natural gifts, and at the right moment, without meddling with anything else. – Plato

Break up your day into different slots. Maximise your deliverables during your productive hours. Follow your to-do list and stick to the schedule. While performing these steps, turn off your phone notifications and other distractions to minimise interruptions. Cell phones, e-mail, and all the other cool and slick gadgets in our daily lives can cause massive losses in our creative output and overall productivity, as pointed out by Robin S. Sharma, author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

Your immediate surroundings play an important role in your mental health. Make sure you keep your room and workspace clutter-free as much as possible. By sticking to a routine, reorganising priorities, and evaluating the environment, you can avoid burning out and stay focused on both short and long term goals.

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