With a world of information and entertainment at our fingertips, it is no surprise that we find our mind wandering now and again. The human brain is made up of billions of neurons, so even if you aren’t glued to your phone, chances are your mind is constantly thinking, questioning and planning. A wandering mind is very common and can sometimes frustrate us, especially if we are trying to get important work done.
In this article, we discuss four super interesting ways to tame your wandering mind and stay sharp when deadlines are looming. Remember, it is normal to feel like your mind is out of focus, so sit back, relax and give these techniques a shot.
⏰ The “Just 5 minutes” Approach
Our mind usually wanders when we perceive a task as too big and challenging. A great way around this is to break down the task into bite-sized pieces or small chunks of time. For example, tell yourself that you’ll only answer emails for 5 minutes, and then you can stop. By the end of those 5 minutes, you will find that the task is far easier to handle. You will keep going past your benchmark and maybe even complete your whole task!
Sometimes, we just need to convince our brain that we’re only doing a small amount of work to get things going. The “Just 5 minutes” approach does just that by tricking your brain into thinking the task is easier than it really is.
🎖 The Reward Approach
We all love incentives at work, but did you know they are a great way to refocus your wandering mind? Rewards at the end of a task make us want to press forward just for those sweet results. Keep in mind that the rewards should correlate with the length and difficulty of the work. For example, if you finish an easy chore, reward yourself with a small piece of chocolate. If you strike everything off your to-do list at work, reward yourself with a movie night!
On the other hand, you can also find things to put on the line if you don’t finish your task. For example, tell your colleague you’ll buy them lunch if you don’t complete a specific task by noon. If you’re working from home, agree to do the dishes if you don’t close all your emails before evening!
🥱 The “Multi-Yawn” Approach
One of the most common reasons for a wandering mind is tiredness. Sometimes we’re tired in such a way that we think we are working, but our mind is somewhere else.
Research says even though yawning occurs when we are bored, tired or hungry, it is our body’s way to perk up and make sure we stay alert. So when you notice that you have been working on auto-pilot, try to crank out as many big yawns as possible. Olympic athletes and concert violinists follow this technique before their events. This helps them calm down and perform better. It works wonders even for students, employees and just anyone who needs to refocus their wandering mind.
🚦 The Trigger and Response Approach
We often find our minds wandering and jumping between tasks, and this is normal. However, if you do need to focus wholly on a certain task, use a “Trigger and Response” routine to bring yourself back to task.
Here are a few examples you can follow. Bear in mind that there is no hard and fast rule, so personalise this to be anything that works for you.
- If you catch yourself thinking about non-work-related things, drink a sip of water to bring your wandering mind back to focus.
- If you’re tempted to check social media during a task, ignore your phone, stand up and do a quick stretch. Then get back to work.
- If you find yourself playing mindlessly with the items on your desk, stop and use a phrase like “Okay, it’s time to focus!”
- If you hear an unusual or familiar noise, tell yourself not to get distracted. Use all your willpower to ignore it.