Your brain is an incredibly complex structure, capable of running your entire body, producing thoughts and impulses, and supplying emotional reactions. Now imagine your mind as a vast closet, with knowledge lining its shelves instead of shoes.
Just like when your clothes closet is a disorganized mess, if your brain is cluttered and lacks organization, it can be a lot harder to stay focused and find what you need. Luckily, you can get your mental closet into shape by fostering new habits, something your brain enjoys doing and is good at.
Try the following ways to get your mind organized and have better, more productive days!
1. Stop All That Multitasking
Doing a million things at once is something we pride ourselves on in society, but in reality, letting you talk and breathe at the same time are just about the only two tasks your brain can do together well.
High level activities, such as writing, reading and cooking, require your full attention individually. If you’re trying to do these types of things all together, your brain is drained faster and you’ll work less effectively.
Make a commitment to handle one thing at a time instead of multiple things at once. It may be hard at first, but you’ll be motivated by how much quality work you find yourself able to get done.
2. Write Things Down
A written list appeals to your brain’s sense of organization and can ease your stress levels, since you’re less likely to forget something important if you simply jot it down. Start using written to-do lists for whatever you can, including work projects and even for things like vacation planning.
Get yourself into the habit of using lists to keep yourself on task and let your brain free up some space for more important things.
3. Unplug Yourself Sometimes
It’s easy to get lost on your cellphone and on the web every day, but your brain needs a break from constant streams of information. Like an overloaded computer, your brain can “shut down” if overwhelmed by overuse.
Start turning yourself off at least once a week when you’re not at work, and build toward putting that phone down and turning the computer off every day as soon as possible.
4. Keep Items In Their Place
One way to help your brain work on more important things is by putting items you need in the same place. There is a structure in your brain, the hippocampus, which actually can tie events to specific areas.
So, if you put your keys on the same spot on the kitchen counter each day, your brain will have an easier time recalling where the keys are. Start assigning permanent places for all the things you need on a routine basis, like your wallet and purse, to free up some space in your mind.
5. Don’t Avoid Breaks
Taking a break can do more than just give you a little rest. When you’re tired or burned out, your brain isn’t functioning at its full capacity. By taking breaks when you’re doing mind-intensive things, you’ll give your brain a chance to re-energize itself and work more effectively.
Your breaks should be something that is stimulating and enjoyable at the same time, like a few rounds of your favorite word or puzzle game. Remind yourself to take breaks when you’re working on a task that requires thought and attention, and stick to the break schedule you set for yourself, even if you feel pressed for time.
6. Keep Passwords Easy
Your passwords shouldn’t be so easy that anyone can guess them, but easy enough for you to personally recall. Pick one strong, secure password, and use that or simple variations of it across your accounts.
Having to remember a large set of completely different passwords for all your credit cards, bank accounts and emails will take up some valuable space in your brain and make it more difficult for you to recall any of them.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Pulling all-nighters can be hazardous for your brain and your health. Without enough sleep, your body and brain won’t be at their best, and you may find yourself moody, unfocused and unable to concentrate.
Sleep recommendations vary by age, with adults set at seven to nine hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Get yourself into the habit of going to bed early enough to get the number of sleep hours you need in, as your body and brain will thank you for it!