This blog is designed to help you take control of your life. Are you ready?
A new school year: fresh start, crisp new notebooks, excited to learn. Whether you’re an adult learner or younger, it helps to be as productive as possible with your time in order to keep your stress levels at a reasonable level (some stress is good for learning).
Productive Learning - Series Overview
This is the first part in a series of four posts on productivity in relation to learning – consider this a free mini-course! In this series I’ll be covering:
· Mental clutter and what causes it
· How to set up your environment for successful learning
· Tricks for avoiding distractions
· How identifying your learning goals will help you achieve them
· From your goals, determining your priorities and creating your to-do list
· Ways to stay focused
· Why review is important to learning
· Useful resources
Productive Learning - Part 1 (of 4)
In this first part, I’ll describe what a cluttered mind looks like and what contributes to it. First let's look at why you'd want to de-clutter your mind…
The benefits of de-cluttering your mind
Just as there are benefits to de-cluttering your home or workspace, there are also benefits to de-cluttering your mind:
· You have more time and less stress because you know your priorities
· You’re able to focus for longer periods of time because you can manage distractions and your energy levels
· You’re in a better frame of mind for yourself and those around you, and have a better quality of life
What is mental clutter?
You’ll have a much clearer picture of what mental clutter is by understanding the causes (below). To begin with, here’s my definition of mental clutter: unprocessed thoughts and data, and unresolved decisions.
Thoughts are simple to define. Data is all the stimulus that you take in – everything from billboard advertising, to what you read and hear, to what your eyes take in (including physical clutter). I’m sure you can identify with unresolved decisions – repeatedly weighing up the pros and cons in your head, and trying to make sense of your emotional reactions and those of others.
What causes mental clutter?
There are too many possible causes to list here in detail. Here are some common causes:
· Physical clutter – Physical clutter can cause mental clutter because the more objects you have in your field of vision, the harder your brain has to work to ignore them and this causes mental fatigue.
· Saying ‘yes’ to everything – Naturally, we want to be helpful and accommodating. However, we often say yes to more things than we have the bandwidth for, either in our schedule or in our mental or emotional capacity.
· Distractions – Neuroscience reveals that we’re attracted to social media and other distractions because the human brain gives priority to new information. It does this because receiving new info releases dopamine – in effect, every time you refresh your email or see a twitter update, your brain gets a little buzz; our brains are wired to seek out these dopamine rewards rather than do what it knows it’s supposed to do. If you get distracted easily, this could be why! I’ll be providing advice for how to manage distractions in Part 2 of this series.
· “Powering through” – Although you may be proud of working 12 hrs/day solid, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Just like your body needs rest, so does your mind. And powering through doesn’t allow for reflection or review, or to celebrate what you’ve achieved.
· Perfectionism - Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination because nothing is ever perfect – for the perfectionist, there’s always something that can be tweaked. If you lean towards being a perfectionist, put this up on your wall in big letters where you can always see it: “Is it good enough?”
· Multi-tasking – According to a University of California Irvine study, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back to the original task when we focus our attention elsewhere. Researchers at Stanford Univ found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information at once can’t pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.
To avoid being paralyzed by the overwhelm of mental clutter and actually get some work and learning done, it’s important to prioritize what your brain needs to focus on. I’ll be talking more about this in part 3.
You can be more productive starting tomorrow by focusing on the causes of mental clutter that resonate with you – being aware of them in yourself is the first step to making changes and creating new habits.
Having said this, I know how overwhelming it can be for some people to make these changes on their own. That’s why I offer a free phone consult. I can help identify which quick fixes you could put into place either on your own or with my help. Just write to me at Ellia@MindfulOrganizing.NET to book a call or schedule a time online.
Part 2: Mindful Productivity, Creating a Productive Environment, Distractions
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How else can I help?
- Messy home, smothered by clutter?
- A never-ending to-do list?
- Scatterbrained and trouble focusing?
- STRESSED AND OVERWHELMED?
My clients want to be organized, but have difficulty clearing the clutter in their home or their head on their own. I help them achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves for a clutter-free home and mind.
If you, too, are ready to get organized and be more productive, I can help:
Virtual Coaching - 1 hour video call for organizing or productivity issues, anywhere
Onsite Coaching - 3 hour session for organizing and productivity issues, in the Seattle area
Packages - 6 or 12 discounted sessions, either Virtual or Onsite
Not sure which option is best for you? Contact me to arrange a free phone consultation: Ellia@MindfulOrganizing.NET or Click here to learn about my organizing and productivity coaching services.