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Productivity / Business Productivity

3 steps to a clear and focused mind that gets things done

Ever have trouble sitting down and focusing your mind on exactly what you need to do? Here’s a simple habit you can develop that will yield a clear, focused mind and boost your focus.

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You know that nagging thought or task that pops up in your mind at random intervals reminding you you’ve forgotten to do something? Or maybe that brilliant idea for an Instagram post you keep forgetting to jot down? They normally come to you at 2am or, worst of all, in the middle of working on something that really needs a fully focused mind.

Know what I’m talking about? I call these bunny thoughts – hopping around in my mind distracting me with their shiny, shiny carrots.

They’re one of the most distracting types of thoughts you can have and can completely erode your productivity throughout the day. Many people will ignore the bunny thought and tell themselves ‘I’ll remember that later’. However, in my experience if you don’t action these distracting thoughts the moment you have them, they leave you with the unsettled feeling that you’ve forgotten to do something.

That’s because most likely you’ll forget them again until tomorrow night at 2am. Richard Branson is well known for saying he keeps notebooks on hand constantly to jot all of these types of thoughts down in. He flicks back through them when he needs to remind himself what he needs to do or to find ideas he’s had.

That might work for Branson but I live by my digital task tracker for storing both tasks and ideas. I dump everything in there in a kind of task/idea inbox until I have the head space to deal with them. I also sort them with tags like: idea, nice to have, email etc to help me sift through them in seconds to find what I need.

"For every task either: Do it, Assign it or Schedule it"

How does this help you to have a focused mind?

Having a process to get these distracting thoughts out of your head and into a task list can give you instant clarity and restore focus back to the work you’re doing. The reason they keep coming up is that your mind doesn’t want you to forget them. By writing them down your mind can relax and focus – the thought has been recorded for later.

But how do you keep from getting a gigantic task list with endless thoughts and rambling ideas? To help, I’ve created this easy to use flow chart which I’ve stuck on my wall as a quick way to manage any thoughts or tasks I write down.

Focused mind

A quick summary of how the chart works in three quick steps:

STEP 1: When you have a thought write it down.

STEP 2: Set specific times in your day for managing your tasks. Use these times to assign them, prioritise them or give them due dates.

STEP 3: Follow the flow chart to either Do it, Assign it or Schedule it.

And that’s it! Clearing your mind of clutter is one of the quickest and easiest ways to maintain focus throughout the day and this simple process should be all you need to achieve that.

Do you have a preferred method for getting things done when you’re struggling to have a focused mind? I’d love to hear it!

Caroline Leppers

is the director of One Red Thread. She is passionate about helping businesses implement great systems and digital tools that enable them to work smarter and simplify the running of their business.

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