Do you ever feel like you have so many things on your mind that you aren't able to fully focus on any of them?
Maybe you're trying to finish a project at work, but your mind keeps wandering to all of the tasks you have to finish at home, the financial issues you're facing or some other "problem" that keeps creeping to the front of your mind.
Or perhaps it's something not quite as major, yet equally as distracting, such as continuously going over that ever increasing to-do list in your mind, trying hard to not forget whatever it is you have to do at a later point in time.
Isn't this exhausting?
All of this "thinking" can make you feel constantly tired, stressed out, and anxious...possibly even pushing you to the point where you're ready to give up on your dreams because you just don't have the energy you need to make them yours?
If you're nodding your head yes, sadly, you aren't alone.
What's On Our Collective Minds
After questioning over 3,000 people, the American Psychological Association found that 72 percent of the people surveyed reported that they are constantly thinking about money...and this is ultimately making them feel stressed out, undoubtedly taking their focus off other areas of their lives.
And that's not all...
Another survey (this one conducted by Harvard, NPR, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) involving 2,500 people discovered that a large number of people are concerned about health-related issues such as diseases and illnesses.
Again, if you're using a good chunk of your brain power worrying about your health, it's likely going to impact your focus.
Even something as small as trying to remember to add items to your grocery list can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and raise your level of stress at the same time!
So what can you do to clear your mind and lighten your mental load?
You need to "clean" your thinking.
The late Steve Jobs was always trying to make things as simple as possible and one way he said to do that was to "...work hard to get your thinking clean..."
When you "think clean," you're going to avoid over-complicating simple things. You'll find that you're able to get more done because you have a clear mind.
You're basically able to start taking more steps forward versus letting your overstuffed and overworked brain hold back.
One very effective technique for thinking clean is called the brain dump.
A "brain dump" essentially helps you take everything you're thinking about, everything that keeps popping into your mind, and get it out in a way that enables you to respond to whatever's on your mind more positively...versus just thinking about it obsessively, making you feel all stressed out.
And you only need two things to do a brain dump...
Two Tools to Help Clear Your Mind
Performing a brain dump can be done with nothing more than a pen and a piece of paper because you're going to just write. Whatever's on your mind, you're going to write it down.
It doesn't matter if it's big or small, a problem or goal, silly or smart. Just get it down on paper.
Now, some people absolutely hate writing anything out by hand, but I prefer to do it this way because...sometimes...what happens with typing is we're so used to doing so much of our work on our computers or on our phones, that our inner perfectionist, our inner critic jumps in, telling us to cross things out, erase things, and censor ourselves.
You don't want to do any of that here as you simply want to get your thoughts on paper. And when you use "real" paper, there's not that third screen...that block that prevents you from just getting it all out.
So what you're going to do is just write down anything that's on your mind...all the tasks, every single one of them...from buying a new tooth brush to closing a new business deal.
Whatever it is, get it out.
When you do, it's this amazingly freeing thing because, once you get this stuff out, you don't have to worry about where it's going to go or anything like that. You free up your mind. You get it to an optimal state... it becomes clean so you can finally think!
I do this daily with my Morning Pages practice, which simply consists of sitting down in the morning (obviously, right?!) and writing out 3 pages of whatever's on my mind.
I also do a sort of "brain dump" when I come up with 10 ideas each day. By putting them on paper, it leaves my mind free to deal with other things in a more focused way.
Okay. So, now it's your turn to take this super simple action and get your mind clear.
Do a brain dump by writing whatever's on your mind for 15 minutes or more.
Don't judge, don't overthink it. Whatever it is, all the tasks, all the stuff, all the things that you're thinking about, whatever they are right now, just start writing.
The goal is just to get it out of your brain and get it onto paper.
Don't worry about what you're going to do with it later or how it's all going to come together, just get it out. That's it.
You'll think clearer and your mental load will feel lighter when you do.
And when this happens...
"Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains."
- Steve Jobs