Updated: Jun 13, 2019
Have you ever felt too many thoughts fogging your mind? Losing clarity of thinking is a problem that nearly everyone faces at some point in time. Even the geniuses the world knows, the likes of Einstein, have had their moments of losing mental clarity. As long as you know how to come out of such a state it doesn’t really matter.
If you are looking to improve your productivity at work then there are a few things that you could do to improve your mental clarity. You would be surprised at how small changes to your daily habits can do significant improvement in your cognitive skills. If you would like to experience the fruits of high-level thinking then it is time to check out these ideas. Spend a few minutes or rather invest a few minutes to execute these ideas for a better focus and improved efficiency.
Know what is on your mind and acknowledge it
We talk about empathy, about thinking about how others feel but how often do we take time to really think about how we feel? When you are able to look inside and know what you feel and put a name on that emotion, then you can easily avoid mental blocks. The best way to tackle an emotion is to let it pass through. To understand this concept better answer this question- do you find yourself sailing through highs and lows in your day? Are there times when you are such a pleasant person to be around and others where people just want to run away from you? You are not alone. Everyone sails the high tide and the low tide during a day. It all depends on which of these sides dominates. Remember that when you feel calm on the inside you are able to stay focused. You are able to show empathy and people would love being around you. When you lose your inner peace, you feel irritated, people maintain their distance and your self-esteem starts crumbling. When you start understanding your emotions or naming them you start feeling more in control of the situation. After all you do not want your worst moments to prolong and drain your mental strength.
Dan Siegel, a physician and psychiatrist say, “name it to tame it”. David Rock also talks about naming and taming your emotions in his book Your Brain At Work. “Without this ability to stand outside your experience, without self-awareness, you would have little ability to moderate and direct your behavior moment to moment”. He talks about how important it is to take charge and be the director of your situations by taming your emotions. He says that you can do this by directing your attention in the right direction.
The two thinking modes
Well, people normally might have an infinite number of states of mind but broadly speaking there are two thinking modes –
‘Focused mode’ – this is where you are glued to a high priority task.
‘Diffuse mode’- this is your state of mind when you are doing nothing, or say when you are daydreaming, which, again counts as doing nothing. Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychiatrist says, “mind wandering serves multiple adaptive functions, such as future planning, sorting out current concerns, cycling through different information streams, distributed learning (versus cramming), and creativity”.
Yes, your brain has to be in its focused mode when you are at work. But the ‘focused mode’ would end up to be without much ‘focus’ if you do not complement it with diffused modes. For the brain to function at its peak efficiency you need a balance of both these modes. After all, ‘All work and no play’ does make ‘Jack a dull boy’!
Have you ever got a splendid idea when you are at the shower? Have you ever woken up with a solution to a problem that had been bothering you clueless for days? When your brain rests, that’s when your brain works its best.
Make ‘break’ a priority item on your schedule
Your brain needs to rest now and then to be able to work at its full capacity. Therefore whether you are at home or at work, always find time to take a break. Schedule planned interruptions in your routines. These distractions could come in any way- here are a few ideas to steal-
1. Go for a walk-
This is perhaps an idea that you get to hear a bit too often. Ah! The wonders that a whiff of fresh air can do to your mood! Charles Dickens said, “If I couldn’t walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish”.
2. Doodle – with a pen and paper
Doodling apps on your smartphone do not count. Pick a pen or pencil and scribble away, doodle anything. This can stimulate your brain.
Meditation plays a huge role in mindfulness. It can help your mind stay grounded. It can also melt your stress away.
4. Power nap
Never underestimate the power of sleep, or even a short nap. Besides getting the much-needed beauty sleep at night power naps during the day helps your brain. This can be a soothing way to calm your exhausted brain and refuel it.
Tasks like these can enhance your creativity and help you think out of the box. Physical activities of all forms can help as well. Check out this 7-minute workout for example. With the fresh perspective you get after your break you would be able to focus on your work better. So you would be able to complete the job at hand quickly and efficiently.
So if some thought keeps nagging you, or if you find it difficult to focus on something, as clichéd as it might sound- ‘take a break!’ This healthy interruption can help you brain. It helps you dig your deeper reserves. You get to tap the full inherent potential of your brain. By taming the ripples caused by your daily strenuous activities your brain gets to relax and your thoughts feel pristine.