Five tips for mental clarity with Katie Barnett
Katie Barnett, Identity, Life & Mindset Mentor, shares her top five tips for gaining and maintaining a state of mental clarity.
The benefits of gaining mental clarity
Having a sense of mental clarity can be challenging. We live in a world of always-on, which can be somewhat overwhelming – and undeniably distracting. The temptation to multi-task, procrastinate and not give things our full attention can not only have detrimental effects on our desired outcome, but also on the way we regard ourselves in relation to this. Lacking mental clarity can ultimately impact our mental wellbeing.
And while you might think that remaining focused is only important when it comes to work, mental clarity is important in so many aspects of life. It can affect our sleep, exercise, relaxation, self care and daily practices.
So, if you’re struggling to find your focus – here are my top five tips for gaining and maintaining a state of mental clarity.
Tips for gaining and maintaining mental clarity
1. Try out different methods to see what works for you
When it comes to focusing on specific tasks, there are an abundance of tools out there that can aid you in optimising productivity. But don’t just try time-blocking or eating the frog (sounds odd, but it’s a real thing!!) because you’ve seen other people doing it. The key is to try out different methods to see what works for you.
A personal favourite of mine is the Pomodoro method. Simply set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on one specific task for the whole duration of that time, have a five minute break, repeat. You then repeat this four times before having a longer 15 minute break, and continuing this process for as long as necessary. It’s a simple method, but for me – it’s been truly transformational! The idea behind it is to encourage sustained concentration and reduce mental fatigue.
I invite you to have a look into specific productivity methods and give a new one a go every day for the next week to see what works for you.
2. Focus on one task at a time, when the time is right
Despite doing multiple things at once appears to be a good way to get more done – trust me, it’s not. In trying to get more done simultaneously to increase efficiency, we often get less done overall and ultimately decrease efficiency...a lot. Either that, or we do a lot of things at a much lower quality than if we’d given each one the time and attention it deserves. Multitasking can increase stress, slow down your brain and overall make you less productive.
Now this point doesn’t just apply to work. It can apply to anything. Be it speaking with loved ones, reading a book, practicing self care, journalling or exercising. If you’re like me, having a podcast in the background whilst cooking can be extremely therapeutic. However, trying to engage in a meaningful conversation with someone whilst simultaneously writing tomorrow’s to-do list doesn’t tend to go down well. So find your balance, and respect it. Know when your mind will benefit from focusing on one task at a time, and do so accordingly.
3. Figure out your state of flow and tap into this
When does time pass fast for you? When do you feel that things come naturally to you without any effort? When do you feel a sense of ease and very little resistance towards doing things? Notice this – it is your state of flow. Perhaps it’s first thing in the morning when you’re watching the sunrise, and ideas are flowing through your mind. Or perhaps it’s in the middle of the day just after a lunchtime yoga session where you feel as though you want to create something.
Pay attention to the moments that empower you to do the things you want to do, with little desire to procrastinate, make excuses or divert your attention elsewhere. Tap into this feeling and take advantage of it! It is here to serve you.
4. Listen to your body and respect its wishes
Remember that mental clarity cannot show up if you are not experiencing physical clarity too. Being in a state of lack can look like engaging in behaviours that distort your clarity such as consuming alcohol, but it can also look like not nourishing your body with the things that it needs to thrive; healthy foods, water, sleep, vitamins and minerals, sunlight, exercise.
Enhance productivity by enhancing your physical state. Listen to what your body needs, and also what it doesn’t need. And also try and tune into when your body has had enough – when it’s tired and no longer wants to sit and write just one more chapter of your book, when it’s restless and craves getting up and moving not sitting and engaging in an hour-long meditation. It is not the right time to focus, all the time.
5. Set healthy boundaries with yourself and others
With so much going on all of the time, it can be challenging to establish a time and place to focus. Setting healthy boundaries with yourself and others will enable you to do exactly this. And while this can look like physical boundaries such as telling loved ones not to enter your room when the door is closed, minimising distractions, or not being contactable by clients during certain hours, it can also look like establishing internal boundaries with yourself. This might be establishing a healthy level of accountability with yourself, knowing when it’s not the right time to engage in certain activities, or simply just respecting the desires of your mind and body.
Finding your focus and gaining and maintaining a state of mental clarity isn’t a one-size-fits all approach. But when you establish what works for you, everything else will naturally fall into place.