In between work/school, friends and family time, and all of the other activities which make up our days, it can be difficult to stay clear “upstairs.” It certainly doesn’t help that the most distracting and addictive device the modern world has ever seen, our cell phones, are always easily accessible.
In a society predicated on scientific and technological advancement, we strive to create a better tomorrow for our children and their children’s children. While most of us no longer have to be scared of physical ailments like polio or measles (looking at you, anti-vaccination crowd), we have developed a whole new “disease” which is equally as frightening to us: being alone with our own thoughts.
I believe mental clarity to be a modern-day human superpower, and a key identifying metric in those who become wildly successful. Not to say “success” is financially driven- If you wake up a happy person every day, then you are successful. However, this can be a tall task when we lack a clear vision or goal in our minds. Here are 5 tips I have recently used to help maintain mental clarity throughout the day:
- Stop eating complete garbage
What we put into our bodies has a significant influence on what our minds create. I’ll repeat: What we put into our bodies has a significant influence on what our minds create.
We can protest this fact and hate it all we want, but it doesn’t change its truth. I was not a total believer until I began taking my health more seriously after graduating college. Which, if I was truly paying attention, shouldn’t be the case. I should’ve known this to be true while in school, because once my relatively healthy diet and exercise routine ceased to exist, the pounds started pouring in, and I was constantly tired.
Nonstop soda, chips, candy, fried food- the whole deal! Wow, I wonder why I wanted to nap by 3:00 Pm every day? I’m not saying that you have to go vegan in order to maintain mental clarity, but you should take notice of the kind of foods you are consuming. If you see negative patterns, try switching up your diet and make notes on your results.
- Actually, seriously, get adequate amounts of sleep
Why does the best advice, repeated most often, still manage to be ignored? Perhaps it’s because we just don’t listen, but in reality, I think it’s because we don’t actually believe the facts or the science behind sleep. If you are not convinced that you should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night, then I certainly can’t convince you.
However, I recommend that you take some time this week to listen to Joe Rogan’s podcast with Matthew Walker, Founder & Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. If you listen to this podcast, research Matthew’s website, and STILL think 4-5 hours of sleep/night is enough for you, then you are in a very small demographic.
Sleep matters, and getting enough of it will drastically improve your mental clarity throughout the day.
- De-clutter your physical space
A cluttered office can easily creep into becoming a cluttered mind. Again, I’m not an expert, so don’t take it from me. Rather, check out the findings of Dr. Sherrie Carter, where she shows 8 different reasons why “mess creates stress.”
The normal workings of a day will fill our minds with just about all they can handle, so the extra clutter of random items on the counter or floor unnecessarily adds to the “clutter” in our mind. This fix may be as simple as you cleaning up once a week, although if you truly have too much stuff, then it may be time to explore minimalism!
Think of minimalism as a lifestyle choice to live intentionally. One of my favorite minimalist content creators is Anthony Ongaro, founder of the Break the Twitchpodcast, website, & YouTube channel. Check out Anthony’s “easy ways to start decluttering today” video here.
- Use time-blocking to schedule your day
Time blocking is a habit which has transformed my life in less than 1 year. At the beginning of 2019, I set a simple goal to start making a schedule for every day of the week, including weekends. Why? Partly because I wanted to be more productive, but the largest recognized benefit I’ve received has been the mental clarity which comes with it.
I no longer have to stress about remembering meeting times, deadlines, or project ideas. I type them into a Word document, put them into specific time blocks, and print my schedule every morning when I get to work. This has made a substantial difference in my mental clarity and allows me the best chance to make each day productive.
For a more in-depth look at time blocking, check out my blog post “5 Ways Time Blocking Changed My Life” (link).
- Stop multi-tasking
Multi-tasking is not a skill, nor does it make you more productive. In fact, it has the EXACT opposite effect, which is a bit counterintuitive. Naturally, you’d think that getting multiple things done at the same time is the best way to stay productive, but the data suggests otherwise.
Dr. Cynthia Kubu and Dr. Andre Machado, both neurologists at the Cleveland Clinic, showed in Time magazine in April 2017 that we are wired to be mono-taskers. According to their referenced study, as little as 2.5% of the population can actually multi-task effectively. That is a very, very small percentage compared to the amount of us that think we’re good at it.
In order to maximize our mental clarity, we want to examine ourselves as a whole to see different areas which could change to our benefit. Maybe this week you cut down on the sugar or caffeine. Perhaps the week after you begin to de-clutter your home or office. Maybe, and this is a BIG maybe, we all actually decide to go to sleep at a decent hour?!
There’s no 1-size-fits-all formula to maintain our mental clarity, but one thing is certain: we have the power to be mentally clear if we proactively make decisions in favor of our wellbeing.