by Thomas Oppong
Mental fog is often described as a “cloudy-headed” feeling.
Common conditions of brain fog include poor memory, difficulty focusing or concentrating, and struggling with articulation.Imagine if you could concentrate your brain power into one bright beam and focus it like a laser on whatever you wish to accomplish. Many people struggle to concentrate and when you can’t concentrate, everything you do is harder and takes longer than you’d like. Here are some practical tips to make it all “go away”.
Give Up the Clutter
Mess creates stress.
There’s a strong link between your physical space and your mental space. Clutter is bad for your mind and health, it can create long-term, low-level anxiety. When the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo became a best-seller, it wasn’t too surprising. We are all looking for ways to create more meaningful lives with less to distract us. Get rid of clutter at your office, on your desk, in your room, and you will send a clear message of calm directly to your brain. Start decluttering today in small, focused bursts. You’re not going to clean up your entire space in a day, so start small to make it a daily habit that sticks. Set yourself up for success by making a plan and targeting specific areas you’re going to declutter, clean up, and organize over a prolonged period of time.
Multi-Tasking Doesn’t Work
The ability to multi-task is a false badge of honor.
Task switching has a severe cost, your concentration suffers when you multitask, it compromises how much actual time you spend doing productive work, because you’re continually unloading and reloading the hippocampus/short term memory. Research shows that task switching actually burns more calories and fatigues your brain – reducing your overall capacity for productive thought and work. Commit to completing one task at a time.
Remove potential distractions (like silencing your mobile, turning off email alerts) before you start deep work to avoid the temptation to switch between tasks. Use the 3-to-1 method!
- Narrow down your most important tasks to 3, and then give one task your undivided attention for a period of time.
- Allow yourself to rotate between the three, giving yourself a good balance of singular focus and variety.
- Give Up the Urgent Distraction
Your productivity, creativity and next big idea depends on it.
- Urgency wrecks productivity.
- Urgent but unimportant tasks are major distractions.
- Last-minute distractions are not necessarily priorities.
Sometimes important tasks stare you right in the face, but you neglect them and respond to urgent but unimportant things. You need to reverse that, it’s one the only ways to master your time.
Your ability to distinguish urgent and important tasks has a lot to do with your success. Important tasks are things that contribute to your long-term mission, values, and goals. Separating these differences is simple enough to do once, but doing so continually can be tough.
Stop Feeding Your Comfort
Comfort provides a state of mental security.
When you’re comfortable and life is good, your brain can release chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which lead to happy feelings. But in the long-term, comfort is bad for your brain. Without mental stimulation dendrites, connections between brain neurons that keep information flowing, shrink or disappear altogether. An active life increases dendrite networks and also increase the brain’s regenerating capacity, known as plasticity. “Neglect of intense learning leads plasticity systems to waste away,” says Norman Doidge in his book, The Brain That Changes Itself.
Michael Merzenich, a pioneer of plasticity research, and author of Soft-wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life says that going beyond the familiar is essential to brain health. “It’s the willingness to leave the comfort zone that is the key to keeping the brain new,” he says. Seeking new experiences, learning new skills, and opening the door to new ideas inspire us and educate us in a way improves mental clarity.
Don’t Sit Still
Sitting still all day, every day, is dangerous.
Love it or hate it, physical activity can have potent effects on your brain and mood. The brain is often described as being “like a muscle”. Its needs to be exercised for better performance. Research shows that moving your body can improve your cognitive function. 30–45 minutes of brisk walking, three times a week, can help fend off the mental wear and tear. What you do with your body impinges on your mental faculties. Find something you enjoy, then get up and do it. And most importantly, make it a habit.
Stop Consuming Media and Start Creating Instead
It’s extremely easy to consume content.
You are passive… Even relaxed. But for each piece of unlimited content you consume, it stops a piece of content you could have created. Limit your mass media consumption. Embrace the creation habit. Start paying attention to the noise that you let seep into your eyes and ears.
- Is this benefiting my life in any way?
- Does all this information make me more prone to act?
- Does it really make me more efficient?
- Does it move me forward in any significant way?
Let creation determine consumption.
Allow curiosity to lead you to discover and pursue something you deeply care about. Make time to create something unique. The point is to get lost in awe and wonder like you did when you were a child. When you achieve that feeling from a certain activity, keep doing it!
Share your authentic self with the rest of us.