Ways to Improve Your Mental Clarity and Focus
1. De-clutter your physical space
There’s a strong link between your physical space and your mental space; mess creates stress. Physical clutter is distracting and bombards your mind with excessive stimuli. The space where your most important work takes place should be a sanctuary. Place any items outside your field of vision when it is not in use; out of sight, out of mind. The same rule applies to your computer desktop, create folders for every item and avoid a cluttered online work space.
2. Develop a routine
Sport psychologists run athletes through specific steps before making a play. Some of the movements seem unusual and arbitrary, but they’re designed to put the mind into a familiar state to recreate a successful performance. In the same way, having your own daily routine or morning ritual creates a familiar ‘comfort zone’ for your mind to do it’s best and most focused work.
3. Tap into your “flow state”
Have you ever been so absorbed in a task that you lose track of time? It’s a mental state known as “flow;” your mind becomes immersed into the activity. In order to tap into this state, there is a sweet-spot between your level of skill and the challenge of a task. If your skills are greater than the challenges of task, then you fall into “boredom,” if your skills are lower than the challenges, than you experience “performance anxiety.”
4. Stop multi-tasking
The ability to multi-task is a false badge of honor. Multi-tasking is really a misnomer, better defined as “task-switching.” It is useful in few occasions — when dealing with medial tasks, but has adverse affects when trying to be productive in detailed and important tasks. Use the “3-to-1 method;” narrow down your most important tasks to 3, and then give one task your undivided attention for a period of time. Allow yourself to rotate between the three, giving yourself a good balance of singular focus and variety.
5. Work/Rest ratios
Studies have shown that workers are most focused and productive when following the rhythm of a work/rest ratio. The Pomodoro technique advocates working for twenty minutes followed by 5 minutes of rest. Other techniques suggest following a 52 minutes work, and 17 minutes of rest.To focus well throughout the day, it is important to allow your mind to rest after processing a lot of information. Experiment and find an effective ratio for you.
6. Diet and sleep
It is true — you are what you eat. Heavily refined foods and foods high in sugar have been shown to have detrimental effects on our thinking process. And lack of sleep has also been linked with poor thinking and learning.As best you can, steer away from foods with preservatives and additives; get into the habit of checking food labels. And in terms of sleep, the consensus for “enough” sleep is between 7-8 hours.
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