How to develop productivity through mental clarity
When thinking about productivity we often think of a lot of effortless quick wins and everything going according to plan. However, this is not the reality of long-term productivity. If we do want to achieve long-term productivity it is important to first zoom out a bit and create a stable base. The first step is working towards mental clarity.
If you look around you and see a big mess everywhere this often suggests a mess in your head as well. Your brain feels foggy and sluggish. When your brain is in this state it is really hard to focus, get excited, and start working on (new) things. With the process described in this post, we will try to achieve mental clarity. I found that with mental clarity I can become excited and enthusiastic about working on my goals again.
So we should first start with a clean-up. How do your surroundings look? Are there things in places they don’t belong? If so start a big clean-up. Put dirty clothes in the washer, put the books on the bookshelf, and staples back where they belong. Before continuing to the next step make sure to have at least one organized room with enough working space to get going. However, ideally, you tidy the entire house because this will truly free your mind of the mess.
Now that everything is tidy around you it is time to assess the level of organization in your thoughts. More often than not we are unconsciously clinging to all sorts of information and tasks in our mind. This will make you feel stressed and uncomfortable. Our brain is not that capable of storing information sufficiently. It often forgets or changes pieces of information. Therefore, the next step is to clear the mind.
Grab a piece of paper and, if possible, go to a quiet room. Let your mind go for a minute. What has been bothering you lately? Why do you feel stressed or uncomfortable? Write it all out. Don’t be a perfectionist. In this step, it does not matter how your thoughts are written down. Just write. Even when you think you have written everything down, stay in your seat for 5 more minutes without doing anything. Often there is still something on your mind. Look at your notes. Did you expect all these things you wrote down?
The next step is to assess the notes. Grab another piece of paper. Are there things that have become irrelevant now that you wrote them down? If so then they stay on the first piece of paper. Now, what are ideas or tasks that you would like to work on? Write them down on the second piece of paper. Make sure to leave some space in between the different ideas and tasks. Continue this process until you assess all topics on the first piece of paper.
It is now time to throw the first piece of paper in the trash. Now that you have written down your thoughts you probably already feel less stressed and maybe even feel excited to work on the tasks you wrote down. However, I advise you to first go through the next step, which is specifying and categorizing your ideas and tasks.
In the blank spaces write down what overall goal the task or idea serves. To reach our goals and get fulfillment out of our tasks it is important to see if the ideas and goals on our paper are effective. Meaning they contribute to our overall (life) goals. If one of the tasks or ideas does not serve at least one of these goals then assess if it is worth your time. Besides specifying the overarching goal, also write down when you think you want to perform this task or idea. Would you like to work on it today? Or this week? Maybe even this month? Planning the work gives you a great impression of the time it will take to finish the task or idea. When you write the planning down assess how realistic it is for you to work on all topics on the paper. If necessary adjust some of the time frames.
Now that we got things out of our heads and on paper you will probably feel a lot lighter and hopefully ready to work towards your goals. We have reached a state of clarity. Whenever your mind feels foggy or sluggish repeat this process.