Mental Blocks & Distractions
“I have so many ideas they are flowing out of my head faster than I can get them out into the world of productivity”. Have you found yourself saying something very similar? What happens however, when the rivers of thought run dry? It isn’t because you lack the once creative spark that seemed to charge your every word but instead you are experiencing normal distractions and mind blocks that has touched every human being on the planet. Not only do these mental blocks disturb our creativity but they can also cause us to forget pertinent details in our day to day lives.
In this new age of technology, many would say it is much harder to stay focused than in our previous archaic years. The stresses of today’s lifestyles attack our psyche in a way that holds certain distractions like stream of consciousness in an entirely different light. What is stream of consciousness? Let’s look at an example that we can all relate to. Ramona is enjoying some time alone walking through the park, clearing her head as she plans to head shopping for dinner. Let’s look into her thoughts as she mentally builds her shopping list.
“Should I make salmon tonight? Maybe marinated grilled salmon would be nice. I’ll have to get home early enough to clean the grill since we haven’t used it since Labor Day last year when all of the family was over. Ha ha ha, Uncle Jimmy was so funny – joking about Aunt Brenda’s tuna salad. Hmm, I wonder how Aunt Brenda is doing; I haven’t talked to her in a couple of weeks. Oh! That reminds me, I need to ask her who her beautician is, her new hair color is beautiful. Ooo, that is a beautiful dog that woman is walking!! Did I remember to get dog food? Speaking of the dog, isn’t it time for her rabies shots? (SNEEZE) Oh my goodness, my allergies are acting up again, I’d better head to the drugstore while I remember.”
What happened to shopping for dinner you say? What you have just witnessed is a stream of consciousness where the mind experiences multiple mental distractions and takes you through a “stream” of thoughts seemingly unrelated. If you notice, nearly every thought has a trigger word which takes her into her next thought. This stream is often so deep one may not be able to remember their original thoughts and as we see in Ramona’s case above, she hasn’t finished planning her dinner.
Computers are another common distraction that causes our thoughts to go unfinished. People feel that because they type faster, they’d rather type out their thoughts instead of writing them. Have you ever had a great idea for a new poem or song, you hop on your computer to put your thoughts in motion and the next thing you know, you’re stuck? You can’t remember what you were thinking, it doesn’t flow as it did only moments ago or you can’t finish what you’ve started. Many have agreed that in this world of multi-tasking it is extremely easy to become distracted by the things around us that WE feel we can do all at once. Take a look at yourself for instance. What are you doing right now? You may be reading this article while you are on your smart phone or even at home on your computer. How many different windows do you have open? Are you talking to people on Facebook or Google Chat? Are you also in the process of studying for an upcoming test, in the middle of a game of Angry Birds, and perhaps snacking on something right now? Did you look away from this article because a text message just came in? All of these things and more contribute to the reasons we have unfinished thoughts.
So what can you do to be more productive?
- Set time aside for completing certain tasks and only complete THESE tasks during this time.
- Open up Microsoft Word or Notepad and nothing else.
- Go the old fashioned and probably most effective route – PEN AND PAPER.
- Isolate yourself away from others when those creative juices are flowing.
- Make a list of things you need to do for the day and refer to it when you are done writing. This way you don’t have to stop what you are doing because you feel you may forget if you don’t.
- Utilize your voice recorder. Almost all newer phones come standard with voice recorders. When great thoughts, lyrics, or lines pop into your head but you are not in a position to work on them, record it. Hearing yourself later may re-charge the excitement you had upon it’s creation.
- Keep a small pad of paper with you at all times and use this to write ONLY your creative ideas in.
- Go to the library or school lab – we often get more done around others who are working equally as hard.
- Pack a notebook and a snack and take a drive to the park or waterfront. Park quietly away from others with your radio off and take this quiet opportunity to be creative.
- Work when no one is at home.
- Take a cat nap. Sometimes the brain is just too tired to be productive.
- Resist the urge to work on more than one idea at a time.
- Listen to instrumentals or nature sounds as you work. Many people think that working to the radio or their IPOD is all they need to relax and concentrate but it is the words that are what cause us to daydream and work on other things. Need familiarity? Find instrumentals of some of your favorite songs and zone out listening to them instead.
- Work out prior to working on any of your creative works. This helps work out the stress, tension and get’s your creative juices flowing.
Ultimately, the brain is going to keep moving even when we need a pause in life. Whether we are sleeping or trying to block out the rest of the world, in the back of our minds we will always be concerned with “the next thing”. So test yourself this week by working on your to-do list from top to bottom. Apply some of these tips and measure your productivity.