No matter what you want to accomplish in your life, be it big projects, big goals, or small tasks that you want to complete, you need to have a clear and focused mind in order to be productive. People often fall into the busyness trap and procrastinate because they don’t have a clear mind. Everything is coming to them and they can’t find the focus to do their work with concentration.
So why do we want to have a clear mind to focus better? And is it important?
In short, the answer is yes. According to Wikipedia, flow, known colloquially as being ‘in the zone’, it is a mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
When you’re ‘in the zone’, your ability to focus on the task at hand increased tremendously, your action becomes smooth, you know what to do and you do it automatically without putting in any conscious thoughts.
Being in the zone or being in the flow state is one of the most powerful and creative moments one can have when doing their work.
I’m sure you can relate that there are times when you are in the flow state and you know exactly what to do and then you do it instinctively, in a split second, and you feel the joy and the fulfillment because you did the work perfectly.
“If you play any kind of sports, you’ll know that from time to time, an opportunity presents itself. That’s the time when suddenly, just for a split second, the window of opportunity opens up and you can go in for the kill.
Adrenaline instantly rushes through your body, time slows down, background noises fade away and you can see your next move clearly. You can just feel it. And the next moment happens instinctively. Your body moves like lightning. You take the smash. You kick the ball. You intercept the pass. You shoot for the net.”
The above was quoted from the book, How to Dominate Your Niche.
At that moment, my friend, you are in the flow state.
However, it is difficult to achieve the flow state when you are being distracted by attention from everywhere.
Many times, you will find it so difficult to have a sharp and clear mind that allows you to fully focus on what you do.
Take writing articles as an example. There are days when I’m feeling overwhelmed, distracted, lack of concentration, and I find it difficult to find words to write.
I just don’t know what to write and ideas don’t flow in automatically.
This is when you can do something to clear your mind, to produce the flow state, and to boost your focus.
And below are the 10 tips you can do when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, lack of direction, and feeling hard to focus on your tasks at hand because you have a cluttered mind.
1. Be in solitude
When your mind is cluttered and you find it difficult to focus, get away. Be in solitude by yourself and in a quiet place.
Studies have discovered that being in solitude can boost your productivity and allows your brain muscles to relax and recover.
As we go through our daily life, we often fail to realize activities such as daily commute, distractions, people, surroundings, routines, and even the things that we consume have an impact on our lives.
If we did not manage these activities wisely and healthily, they can eventually break us down. Put us in an inferior state, feeling down, having no energy, and limit our inspiration and motivation.
This is why we need to do something to restore our mental health, by being in solitude.
Great scientists like Albert Einstein found the theory of relativity when he was standing on the train station watching the trains passing him by. He was in solitude.
On the other hand, Isaac Newton discovered gravity while he saw an apple fell from the tree in his garden. He was in a solitude state while the thought of the principle of gravity hit him.
So schedule a time to be in solitude, my friend. Take time off. Be by yourself. Spend time alone so that you can understand yourself better.
2. Engage in physical activities
Here’s another great tip to clear up your mind to focus better at what you do – engage in physical activities such as exercise, hitting the gym, and going for a run.
Science has found that exercise is a great way to get rid of stress from our bodies. However, finding the motivation to hit the gym or to run a mile can be the biggest hurdle to overcome.
Nilofer Merchant, one of the TED Talk speakers showed in his presentation that on average, we are sitting for 9.3 hours per day, which is far more than the 7.7 hours we spend sleeping. He said:
“Sitting is so incredibly prevalent, we don’t even question how much we’re doing it. In that way, sitting has become the smoking of our generation.”
So if your work requires you to sit for long hours, make sure you find time to move around physically. Don’t just sit on your butt for long hours.
Steve Jobs, one of the most brilliant entrepreneurs in the world made the habit of walking meeting.
Therefore, engage in physical activities to boost your creativity, productivity, and also to clear your mind for better focus.
From time to time, stand up, stretch your body. And don’t forget to exercise regularly.
If you read the book, What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, the author, Laura Vanderkam explains that most highly successful people go for physical exercise before they start their workday.
If highly successful people believe that exercise is important and they spend time to do it even when they have a busy schedule, don’t you think that we should do so as well?
3. Do something else that is totally unrelated
A smart way to promote a clear mind is to do something else that is totally unrelated. When you are feeling stuck and are going nowhere, what you need to do is to get away from the situation, from the cluttered mind.
Like what I wrote in my older article, 10 Easy Methods How To Recharge Yourself For A Fresh Start:
“It is like how Archimedes discovered the principle of buoyancy while taking bath. When you let go and unplugged, you allow your mind to work on the problem on a subconscious level.”
When you are feeling stuck and are going nowhere, just stop, and do something else. It is a great way to disconnect yourself from the problem or tough situation that you are in.
Sometimes when I’m stuck and are having hard times to write articles, I will just take a stop and walk to the balcony. Take a good look at the bright blue sky, and spend a couple of minutes doing nothing.
After I get back to my desk to start working, usually, some ideas will flow through.
4. Talk to someone positive
This is what most people will choose to do when they are feeling stuck. The problem though is that most of them choose to talk to the wrong person.
They choose to talk to someone who is not supportive and someone who will share with them even more ‘negative’ examples and news.
If you want to share your problems or difficulties with others, choose the right person. If you have mentors, talk to them. If you have coaches, talk to them. If you know anyone who is successful, talk to them.
Talking to people who are more positive and successful than you do allows you to absorb their thinking and beliefs.
After the conversation, you will feel better, have a clearer mind and able to focus better.
Besides that, talking to others is helpful because knowing that you have someone always willing to help and support you gives you more confidence to face the tough situations in life.
5. Write down your thoughts
When you were still a teenager, you may have kept a diary in your secret place and you probably wrote down your secrets in it.
Journaling and writing down your thoughts makes you feel good. It helps in making the world a clearer place.
Although you may have ditched the idea of journaling and writing down your thoughts, the principle behind and the benefits of it still applies.
The Medical Center of University of Rochester published an article and stated that journaling is a helpful tool in managing your mental health.
It reduces stress and anxiety, it helps to cope with depression, improves your mood, prioritizes your problems, and can also work as an opportunity for positive self-talk and identify negative thoughts and behaviors.
Sounds impressive, isn’t it?
So the next time when you want to have a clear mind and better focus, just write down your thoughts.
There is a good book on writing down your thought called Write It Down, Make It Happen, and I recommend you read it.
6. Meditate or do yoga
Do I need to explain this further? We all know that meditation and doing yoga is good for both our physical and mental health.
I guess the problem is that we don’t know how to do it and oftentimes, we lack the motivation to do it.
If you want to learn about meditation, watch this short YouTube video below:
And you can make good use of YouTube to learn how to do yoga poses in the comfort of your home too. Check out this video:
Remember, when you have no idea how to do something, Google and YouTube can be your best teacher to help.
7. Practice deep breathing
According to this article from Times of India, the benefits of deep breathing are tremendous:
- Works as a natural painkiller
- Improves blood flow
- Increases energy level
- Improves posture
- Reduces inflammation
- Detoxifies the body
- Stimulates lymphatic system
- Improves digestion
- Breathing relaxes mind and body
It is a long list. And these benefits are what make deep breathing a good way to clear your mind and to find a better focus.
The article also mentioned that taking just a few minutes each day to practice deep breathing can make you healthy in your overall wellbeing.
But the question is that how do you breath correctly and how to practice deep breathing?
Here is a simple technique: Follow the 4-7-8 breathing method.
Inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and then exhale for 8 seconds. And do this a couple of times regularly throughout the day.
You can also learn more about this 4-7-8 breathing technique from Dr. Andrew Weil’s website.
Hence, whenever you are stressed and find it hard to concentrate on your work, do this deep breathing technique.
Of course, it will be even better if you can make this your habit rather than doing it whenever you feel stress.
8. Get close to nature
When was the last time you get close to nature? If you are living in the big, busy city, the last time you spend time in nature may be a long time ago.
Imagine you are living in a quiet house surrounded by the greens. You can hear the birds chirping and each morning when you open your eyes, you can feel the morning sunshine on your face. Every breath you take is fresh and the scenery is just nice. How do you think this will give an impact on your life? Or to your cluttered mind?
This is why getting close to nature is also a great way to clear your mind and to develop better focus at your work.
When you spend time in the shopping mall, seeing the crowd rushing through, and at the end of the day, when you get back home, you feel tired and no energy.
Try to spend time in nature, take a walk, and then sit quietly and listen and feel the nature. When you’re done and when you get back home, you feel fresh and energetic.
This, my friend, is the difference between spending time in nature and spending time in a shopping mall.
Thus, schedule more time to be in nature.
Don’t get me wrong, getting close with nature doesn’t mean that you have to quit your job and move back to living in the cave. Here is an article from Organics that you should read:
9. Create and involve in skunkworks projects
According to Wikipedia, The designation “skunk works” or “skunkworks” is widely used in business, engineering, and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, with the task of working on advanced or secret projects.
Do you know that the first Apple Macintosh computer was developed from a skunkworks project?
Not only the Apple, Google has made skunkworks projects part of their company’s culture where employees get to spend 20% of their work time on side projects that interest them.
As a result of this skunkworks projects, hugely successful products have been created including the Gmail, Adsense, and Google News.
And when it comes to having a clear mind with better focus, involving in skunkworks projects are great because they take away your attention and allow you to focus on other things that interest you.
Not only that skunkworks projects are a great way to let your creativity run freely, it is also a great way to clear your mind.
Everyone can start a skunkworks project. Regardless of what industry you are in, you can always spend time pursuing what you love in your free time.
For instance, if you love woodworking, you can start a blog or a Facebook page or a YouTube channel to share your ideas and work. Who knows, your side project may one day grows so big that it becomes a business by itself.
However, for now, please remember that you are using a skunkworks as a way to clear your mind from your main project.
10. Dive in and just do it
Out of all the tips here, this is the one that I like the most.
Yes, when you are feeling cluttered and stuck, you can choose to get away from your work, but you can also choose to tough it out and keep doing.
Like me when writing articles. Sometimes I find it hard and totally have no idea what to write. Staring at the blank screen.
What I will do then is to choose to write something, anything.
I just want to get my mind’s ideas flow. Thus, I will write whatever that comes into my mind. And as I am doing this, the ideas will start flow and my mind will be cleared.
Things will then become smooth. The motivation and inspiration will come. And I will find myself working on my articles in no time.
Of course, if you find that this method is not working for you, do other stuff. There are 10 tips here and you can choose what you want to do to clear up your mind.
Managing your state of having a clear mind is an important step to achieving great success in life.
When you are feeling stuck, getting nowhere, your mind is cluttered, it will not help you get things done.
Therefore, use the 10 tips that I have shared with you. Remember, you don’t have to follow exactly, they are just suggestions.
However, if you have applied some of the tips before and found that they are helpful in clearing your thoughts and make you focus better, let me know.
So which tip do you like the most? Let me know by leaving your comment below. Cheers