Clear Mind & Focus
This section introduces mindfulness and meditation and it also encourages you to focus on one thing at time whenever you can. The aim is to introduce some simple practices into your daily life that can really make a difference. They can help you deal with stress and anxiety, change your perspective and get on top of things.
Mindfulness alone is one of the most critical aspects of wellbeing, so it's something everyone needs to consider. Most of the ideas here are also easy to integrate into your daily routine as well, so you should soon start to see the benefits.
This section can help you:
- Feel better
- Produce great work
- Reduce the risk of mental illness
- See the world in a different way
- Understand your body and be aware of its highs and lows
- Start to change the story you tell yourself
When you start to be mindful, you should start to find yourself responding to things, rather than reacting to them. You should also find that you perform a lot better and remember more about what you do when you only focus on one thing at a time.
In around 3 minutes, you'll be able to start meditating and see for yourself what it's like to be mindful.
How to Clear Mind & Focus
Mindfulness and meditation are very popular now, but what are they all about? It’s not always clear, and I think a lot of people are put off at first as they consider them to be either a religious or spiritual practice, or a clinical treatment for people who are suffering from stress.
The truth is, mindfulness and meditation can benefit everyone and you don’t have to put much in to get a lot out.
I call this section ‘Clear Mind & Focus’ to try to avoid the negative associations with the words meditation and mindfulness. I also treat them as two completely separate practices within the system as well.
To help you get going, I've created the following introductions:
For me, meditation is just about taking time to clear your mind and focus on the present moment. If you haven’t tried it, or aren’t quite sure what it means, just try the things I'm about to describe below.
Rather than coming up with exercises to introduce it, I thought a simple and straightforward overview would be better along with a few suggestions of things you could try to get going. I suggest going through this even if you’ve tried it before, as you may learn something new.
It took me a while to ‘get' it and I’d even read an entire book on the subject but still didn’t know how to meditate. I was expecting something to happen and presumed I had to do something to make it work. The truth is, it’s really the exact opposite.
The best way I’ve heard meditation described is by Chris Bailey in his book, The Productivity Project. He states that he simply focuses on his breath for a set time and when his mind inevitably wanders, he gently brings his attention back to it.
It’s really about taking a break from all the thoughts that constantly bombard your mind. They will obviously appear, but it’s all about observing them rather than acting on them. You also get used to gently turning your attention back to the present moment when your mind starts to wander.
Meditation also helps you change your relationship with your mind. It can help prevent negative thoughts snowballing out of control and it encourages you to concentrate on the present moment.
To me, meditation is about the following:
- Sitting still and closing your eyes
- Concentrating on the present moment
- Focussing on your breath and the sensations in your body
- Being aware of everything around you
- Giving your mind a rest
- Taking a break from all that mental noise
- Completely relaxing and trying not to think
Before you do anything else, just try this for 5-10 minutes and see how you feel afterwards.
When you start, simply count your breaths from one to ten. Count when you inhale and pause as you exhale. Keep repeating this until the time is up, or you feel you need to move on.
While you’re doing it, try to notice everything around you and really focus on the present moment.
The main thing to remember is that if your mind starts to wander, don’t resist it or get frustrated. Just gently go back to your breathing.
Meditation is great but you can do a lot more, and that’s what I personally consider to be mindfulness.
I view mindfulness as doing things with your attention fixed on the present moment and being aware of what’s happening around you.
If you haven’t done anything like this before, I suggest you try the following exercise to give you an idea of what it’s all about:
Simply head to your kitchen or bathroom sink and turn on the tap. Now fix all your attention on the present moment and what you’re doing and put your hand under the tap so you feel the water on your hands.
Take some time to really feel it and notice all the sensations. Give it your full attention and if your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to what you’re going.
When you’ve really taken in the experience, dry your hands with a towel. Don’t stop concentrating though, really focus on how it feels and all the textures. If you have to walk to get one, you should also concentrate on the sensation of your feet connecting with the floor.
You should place all your focus on the present moment and everything happening around you. You could also take a good look at the room you're in and everything around you.
This should feel a bit different and it’s a safe bet that these are usually the sort of things you do on autopilot. This is just the start of your mindful journey as well.
To tell the difference, it's important to remember that meditation is what you do when you sit down and focus on the present moment with your eyes closed and mindfulness is when you put it into practice in your everyday life.
I strongly recommend you keep your eyes open for this part though.
Making It Happen
I suggest you take time to meditate for at least 10 minutes every day and mark it as a repeating event on your calendar. If you simply can’t manage this, do what you can as even taking time on alternate week days will help.
This is one part of the system I consider mandatory, as there are such great benefits.
It can also help you with all the other sections of The Simplicity System. In time, you should naturally find yourself becoming more aware of the present moment and be able to move past negative events and improve your interactions with people.
Focussing on What's Important
When you start to become more mindful, you should also start to become a lot more aware of the things that are demanding your attention. The distractions and interruptions that arise when we try to work and the need to have a device in our hands all the time means we rarely get to focus on one thing.
This isn't good for us, as evolution simply hasn't prepared us for this way of life.
This is also one of the first things you should address if you want to feel better. Shutting out all that mental noise is an important aspect of The Simplicity System.
When we start to focus on one thing and really engage with what we do, we should feel better and start to see some amazing results. This is really significant when we start to think about the way we work, and where we work, as well. You'll find a lot more about this in the 'Own Information' section.
The Simplicity System
So to sum it up simply, if you want to clear your mind and start to focus on what needs to be done you should:
- Meditate regularly
- Be mindful while you’re doing things
- Try to focus on one thing at a time
As you start to develop these ideas, plenty of paths should be opened up to you. You can simply take a clinical approach to them if you wish, or start to explore the more philosophical and spiritual aspects that present themselves. I'd strongly recommend examining Stoicism and Buddhism for inspiration.
Your Clear Mind & Focus Resources
Follow the links below to learn a lot more
Your Clear Mind & Focus Golden Rules
You probably won’t get great ideas while you’re hard at work
If you’re at your desk intensely concentrating, putting out fires everywhere and trying to manage everything, you probably won’t experience a flash of inspiration. When we step back, relax and get away from it all though, ideas usually start to flow through. This why so may people have ‘shower moments’, where an idea suddenly hits them out of the blue.
Focus on one thing when you can
It’s really easy to sit watching TV with a digital device in your hand and your attention split down the middle. We probably try to do several things at once while we're at work as well and are often encouraged to multitask. Research suggests that no one can truly multitask though and if we try to, we won’t do any of the activities well.
Move past mistakes
Imagine a situation where you make a mistake at work, lots of people notice and you feel ashamed and self-conscious. in this situation, you're actually more likely to fail at the thing you were doing in future as well, as you're likely to face it with a negative mindset. The best thing to do is quickly work out what you can learn form the experience, give yourself a little bit of time to be angry, no more than 2 hours though, and then move on and put it past you.
Your Clear Mind & Focus Slots
Try to make time to meditate every day if you can. It just takes 10 minutes to really make a difference, but what you put in is up to you.
Whether you're working on your own projects at home or in the office with a million and one things to do, you should set aside time for 'deep work'. It's so easy to sit down for an hour or two and end up achieving very little because you got distracted. Putting your entire focus on one thing will really make a difference and you should soon see the benefits.
Device Free Time
Try setting aside time when all your devices are turned off and you’re free from distractions. Do you really need to be connected 24/7 and are you really going to miss anything if you’re not online for an hour?
In addition to finding time to mediate, you could also set aside time to just think. If you’re working on something, just isolate yourself with a notepad or digital device for a set period and see what happens.
Try to make time to create something. It could be music, writing or some sort of creative activity where you end up with something very rewarding. This can help you focus on one thing and get all your thoughts in place. It's also a great way to relax and unwind.
If you can, get outside in the fresh air and surround yourself with nature. Evolution has geared us towards feeling at ease when we're surrounded by plants and trees, as we naturally associate them with food sources. It’s also a great time to take stock and let your mind connect all the dots behind the scenes.
Clear Mind & Focus Blog Posts
Remember, you need to focus on one thing at a time whenever you can. Mindfulness and meditation are also important practices that really need to become part of your daily life.