How to Get Clarity When Your Mind is Scattered or Distracted

When I have a week that is concentrated on a single project I often feel as though I loose focus. My mind can forget other projects or important tasks that were not contained within the context of the project I was working on.

If I don’t catch myself, there is the opportunity for things to fall through the cracks. I forget to respond to important emails, to close the loop on an important task, or push the ball forward on an important project.

Here’s a practice I use to recalibrate myself:

  1. Organize all the paper with ideas or tasks in a single stack.
  2. Get a blank legal pad. When my mind seems scattered a blank piece of paper brings clarity. It’s important to get some distance from your phone or computer during this process – even if it’s just for five minutes.
  3. Write down everything that comes to mind. Don’t filter ideas or tasks. Don’t worry if you already have them written down. “Brain dump” everything onto paper. For me, it’s important that I write everything down and then move all of the items onto the computer.
  4. Open up Todoist, or favorite cloud based task management system.
  5. Review new written notes in addition to older notes from the week. Convert all notes into actionable tasks, then throw out all the paper notes. Important: ensure that all notes are translated into action items. If you leave ‘just a couple’ notes or abstract thoughts on paper it will clutter your mind and you’ll feel weighted down.