Are you ever overwhelmed with so many thoughts you don’t know where to start and just end up procrastinating? Us too.
In this InvENting 101, we’re going to share some tips and tricks to help you organize your thoughts to be a productive, efficient innovator.
FUN FACT: The average person has 70,000 thoughts each day.
Okay, that fact isn’t so much fun, we’re exhausted just thinking about it – wait, was that another thought? If 70,000 thoughts seems like a lot, it is, and if you do not learn to organize them, they have the potential to wreak uncertain havoc on your productivity.
Disorganization vs. Flow
In a study conducted at the National Institute on Aging, results showed that allowing one’s mind to be disorganized doesn’t just feel bad, it is also actually bad for you. A disorganized mind can lead to high levels of stress, chronic negativity and impulsivity. These states can stifle productivity and contribute to physical health problems including weight gain, heart disease, sleep problems and migraines.
On the other hand, an organized mind falls into a state of flow. Flow is a state of balance, where you are fully immersed in a task, completely free from distracting thoughts. Flow can help you not only enjoy your work, but also perform at the peak of your potential. Research shows that people working in a state of flow are five times more productive than they’d otherwise be.
Now that we have a little scientific backstory on organizing thoughts, let’s look at some tips to get started…
Capture your thoughts and ideas
When in doubt, write it down.
The first step in organizing your thoughts and ideas is collecting them. Whether your organizing thoughts or physical materials, you need to be able to hold or collect the items you want to organize. Choose your preferred method of capturing your thoughts and take as much time as you need to get everything out of your head and in writing.
TIP: Keep a notebook with you at all times to ensure you can jot down important things as they come to you.
Don’t be detail-oriented
If you try to absorb a massive amount of material, your brain will, quite literally, be bombarded and will not be able to process information effectively. In his article “Four Secrets to Organizing Info Quickly in Your Brain,” Mike Byster compares this to shoving too many items into the bin at the airport for TSA screening. Suddenly, the X-ray isn’t effective and the agent can’t see anything.
To avoid inundating your brain with too much information, you need to put a sorting system in place. Try to separate the important facts from the distracting details.
TIP: Most important facts tend to be repeated more than once, pay attention to those repeats when mentally sorting through information.
Look for patterns
After you have collected your thoughts, now it is time to review them and look for patterns. Your looking for general similarities or likenesses between your thoughts and ideas. As you identify those patterns, take notes on your findings.
TIP: When you’re identifying patterns think about characteristics like timing, structure, location, materials and people.
Thoughts organized? Check. Let’s turn the focus on you and your work style…
Find the right amount of challenge in what you do
When you are trying to get work done, it can be very easy to lose focus and succumb to intrusive thoughts when the task at hand is too challenging or too easy. A healthy challenge is something that stimulates without being so difficult that it produces anxiety or so simple that it induces boredom.
TIP: Find your healthy challenge sweet spot before brainstorming your next idea.
Take control of your emotions
While you may have little control over how things can make you feel, you have absolute control over your reactions to those emotions. First and foremost, you need to be honest with yourself about what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it. From there, it is much easier to channel the emotion intro producing the behavior you want. If you try to stifle your emotions and tackle your work without addressing them, they’ll slowly eat away at you causing you to lose focus.
TIP: Identify and label your emotions as you experience them.
Sustain your focus
Studies have shown that it takes five to 20 minutes before people start to focus. If you can force yourself to persist in the activity in spite of any distractions for 20 minutes, they chances are much higher that you’ll be able to sustain your focus and find a state of flow.
TIP: Turn off distractions like your phone, email and social media.
Contrary to popular belief, our brains and bodies and not wired for prolonged periods of work. Research has shown that the most productive work cycle tends to be 52 minutes of uninterrupted work followed by 17-minute breaks.
TIP: Pepper several short breaks throughout your day. Stuck in a rut? Take a break and get some fresh air before returning to the drawing board.
Now that we’ve given you some guidance on organizing your thoughts, grab those pens and notebooks and start innovating! Remember, you can always utilize Edison Nation Sparks to organize ideas within our system and easily convert them to submissions later! Then, when you’re ready, share those ideas to our searches!
Bradberry, T. (2015, Nov 3). 5 ways to organize your mind for maximum productivity [Web log post]. Retrieved October 26, 2018, from https://www.weforum.org
Byster, M. (2014, February 28). Four Secrets to Organizing Info Quickly in Your Brain [Web log post]. Retrieved October 25, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com
Isip, R. (2015, February 26). How to Organize Your Thoughts [Web log post]. Retrieved October 26, 2018, from https://www.theorderexpert.com