Clear the Clutter!

How many times are you distracted or interrupted in your workday?

If we're being honest with ourselves, it's probably all the time. The interruptions come in all different forms - customers, employees, fellow colleagues, you name it. And they also come in the form of social media, our laptops, our phones, etc...

And we wonder why we are not as productive as we could be.

We have our initial schedule, what we want to accomplish in a day. And then the fires and interruptions come. And before you know it, you're running from place to place (physically or mentally), meeting to meeting, phone call to phone call. Before you know it, it's 3PM and you realize you haven't eaten anything since that bagel and coffee in the morning. And your brain is about ready to call it quits. Your stomach is growling, and your energy is lagging. You quickly grab some fast food, or perhaps a bar, to quiet your stomach, and then some more coffee (or tea) to energize your brain. And then you are back on your way.

This type of work style comes at a very large cost.

I could spend an entire blog post talking about the time you lose as you're constantly switching between tasks. What I would like to talk about though, is how the long-term effect the disruptions have on your mental processing. I am a mental performance coach, afterall.

Picture it this way. Imagine your brain is a computer. Each time you have a distraction, it is the equivalent of opening a new app. You never close the app completely, you're just constantly switching between the apps. And by the middle of your day, your brain is sluggish. It's bogged down with all the programs that are running.

You can attempt to override the sluggishness by getting some liquid energy. That is not effective in the long run, however. Just as you do with a computer, you need to reboot.

Think about your smartphone. Eventually, you need to reboot it. If not, the performance continues being sluggish. The battery drains faster. You'll need to replace it sooner. If you have a consistent schedule of turning your phone off, it is healthier for the phone.

Now apply that to your brain.

You need to give your brain time to reboot. In Episode 212 of theSilReview, I talk about how to clear the clutter in your mind. How can you reboot your brain.

The simple, easy answer is to set aside breaks throughout your day where you intently focus on one activity - and one activity only! Set a time for a minute and do one of the following:

  • Slowly breathe in and out, focusing only on your breathing

  • Observe an inanimate object such as a pen or coffee cup

  • Observe a plant and be appreciative of its beauty

  • Pray or meditate

Why these activities? They give your brain a chance to reboot, reset, refocus!

What are the benefits? You'll have greater clarity of thought. You'll have improved decision making abilities. You'll be able to problem solve better. And you'll have an increased flow of creative thinking.

All because you took the time to clear the clutter.

And, as a leader, you want to have those benefits. So go ahead. Clear the clutter. Which technique are you going to implement this week?

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