Category Archives: Focus

Empty Your Mind for Better Focus

I bet you have a lot of thoughts rattling around in your brain right now. You may think you’re focused on reading this article, but I’m sure at some point in the few minutes required to read this article your mind will start to slip and think about other things you should be doing.

This used to be me. All the freaking time!

I would be working on one task but my mind would be racing back and forth between the current subject and all the other tasks left to be done. It wasn’t fun but it was definitely exhausting. This over activity of the mind would often prevent me from getting into my mental sweet spot where I would be in the state of flow.

But then Getting Things Done came along and changed everything for me. I’m not the biggest advocate of the GTD system as a whole by any means (I’ll save that topic for another day), but I didn’t glean a few golden nuggets from the book that did change the way I operate.

The concept of the brain dump where you get everything out of your psyche turned out to be one of the best concepts I have ever used.

I was being distracted by my mind reminding me of all the tasks I needed to do so that I wouldn’t forget them. The idea of a brain dump to get all these other tasks fleshed out onto paper would free my mind of the reminding duties so that it would concentrate fully on the task at hand.

If you’re having trouble focusing, why don’t you give it a try? Here’s the 3-step solution that works for me every time I find myself focusing on other tasks.

1. Set a timer for 10 Minutes

This isn’t an all-day activity. You’re trying to get thoughts out of your head onto paper as quickly as possible so that you can get back to being productive. To force yourself to do that, I would recommend setting a timer for 10-minutes. Set a timer that’s going to go off. Don’t look at your clock and say I’m going to stop 10 minutes from now.

You’ll spend too much time looking at the clock.

Setting a timer will force you to focus on getting out the most important and reoccurring tasks that are distracting you.

2. Dump every task you can think of to paper

You may have 10 tasks on your mind or you may have 100. Regardless of how big or how small the task, note every single one of them. It’s hard to predict which task your mind will bug you with, so to be sure, make sure you don’t miss any.

Also make sure to include personal as well as professional tasks on the list. Your mind will remind you of all of these, so you may as well capture them all in the brain dump session.

3. Set a reminder for review

You’ve now got all your tasks down on a master list. Awesome! So your mind is free to now remind you that you need to go through that list and start doing your tasks. Damn it. So close!

To avoid this scenario of the constant reminder from your mind, set a reminder on your phone/digital calendar/whatever for later in the day to go through this list and determine courses of action or which tasks don’t really need to be done.

This will allow your mind to relax as it knows that you have a reminder set to come back to it later in the day.

A free mind is a productive mind

Now that your mind is free of the noise that’s generated by other tasks you can properly focus on the task at hand. It will also free up mental resources that will allow you to be more creative.

Remember that the key to making this work is capturing everything You may not realize it, but it’s truly amazing how the mind can focus even on the smallest of tasks. By ensuring everything’s out of your head, you can ensure that you’re working distraction free.

Now that you’ve finished this article, why don’t you give it a try before starting your next tasks? Go do it! Now!