Oooooh, mind control…no, this blog post isn’t about being abducted by aliens or experimenting with something strange from a mad scientist’s laboratory.
I wrote this article to help you to take back control of your mind.
Every day we are bombarded by notifications, sounds from an app that used popped up on your phone, and distractions everywhere you look.
We are beset by responsibilities, expectations and outright demands from supervisors, customers . . . you know the drill.
Sometimes it seems as if you are lucky to get a moment to breathe. Is it no wonder that your ability to create is stifled.
It is as if everyone around you has an agenda to which they want you to conform. Talk about mind control.
Taking Back Control of Your Mind
You don’t have to lean out your window and yell at the world in order to take back control of your mind and give yourself space to create and work deeply.
A List of 15 Ways to Clear Your Mind
Some of the steps you can take to clear your mind are so simple, so easy that you will wonder why you have not thought of them before.
Some of them, you are going to say, “Oh! I remember doing that. But it has been a while. Maybe I should do it again?”
Turn off the Electronics
Yup, that’s right. Turn off the radio, the television, the computer, and even your MP3 player, or that old-style turntable. Give your ears and eyes a break.
As citizens of our modern world, most people have become avid consumers of media. If you are inputting every minute of the day, you aren’t leaving yourself room to think, let alone create something to output.
If you can’t seem to manage to remember to turn things or take a break from Facebook, pick up a software program such as FindFocus, and let it help you remember when it is time to take a break.
Develop a Quiet Space
This is related to #1, but it goes a step further. Go for a walk in a wooded area, visit a body of water, or climb up a hill or a mountain. Shut yourself into your bathroom and take a super-bubbly bubble bath, or draw the curtains on your bedroom windows and declare that it is nap time. Use what whatever natural remedy for it takes to boost your focus and concentration, but create a little quiet so your ears and your brain can rest.
Use a Dedicated Audio Device to Play Non-Distracting Music
Some people just cannot bear total silence. They find that the quiet amplifies annoying sounds such as ticking clocks, people running leaf blowers, or the steady hum of traffic. Soft music or nature sounds can sometimes overcome this problem. If soft music won’t do the trick, try using a set of noise canceling headphones and piping your preferred sound through them.
Become Hard to Reach
Place a note over the doorbell, create a time-out message for email, social media and telephone. Our connected world is intrusive. It is extremely difficult to create something when you are bombarded by requests for a ride to the store, the location of somebody’s socks, directions for how to use the microwave and many similar requests. If you carry a cell phone and people are constantly texting you, that can be a huge interruption. Gently let your family and friends know that you do still care about them, but that you really need a bit of space in order to reach your goals.
Use a Closed Door Between You and Your Pets
Many writers have pets. Cats or dogs seem to be the usual species of fur children in an author’s home, but ferrets, guinea pigs, rats and fish can also share homes with creative people. If your pet has free rein in your home, save your work often if you are using a computer. Cats have a fondness for sitting on laptops and doing other untoward things while you are freshening your cup of coffee or tea.
Give the Children Permission to Visit a Friend or Family Member (Or Turn on the TV)
Kids are the most amazing creatures. Even if you grew up in a large family and are used to youngsters, your own children seem to be fatally tuned to the moment when you have a chance to focus on your work or your creative ideas.
While this certainly does not make you love them less, it does challenge your patience and can absolutely derail your concentration. If there is family member around you can still opt for the TV. Yes - I said it. It's just natural if we need some space for ourselves. I try to limit these occasions to twice a week for one or two hours.
Prepare Your Research Ahead of Time
Decide on your topic and prepare your research before you begin to write or need to focus on studying. It might seem awkward at first. You might end up with some unusable information or discover that you need more on a specific point or idea, but over-all, if you have a stack of reference articles printed out, books that have the preferred pages marked, or a notebook of hand-written information, you will be less likely to waste your writing time by following a choice tidbit “down the rabbit hole” as it were.
Make Hand-Written Notes
While scribbling out a full manuscript would be a challenge, especially at today’s demand rate for written work, some things just go better when they are written out by hand. Writing study notes creates a kinesthetic memory of the words that might stick with you when words that you see or hear do not. Poetry often develops more easily when handwritten, as do outlines.
Be Well-Fed, but Not Overly Full
Although you might become hungry after working for several hours, sitting down at your desk while you are feeling a bit peckish is just asking for interruptions. It is really hard to think when your stomach is growling at you. By the same token, you don’t want to be so full that your primary ambition is to take a nap.
Keep a bottle of water on your desk, and drink water when you pause to think. No doubt you’ve seen those old movies where the guy is crawling out of the desert gasping, “Water, water!” Or maybe you’ve seen the old movies where the shipwrecked people are floating in the ocean without any fresh water to drink. Drinking salt water or eating salty food will trigger the desire for a drink of ordinary water. Soft drinks, tea or coffee are not good substitutes for that very ordinary bottle of water. Do make sure it has a screw top on it – no one needs a well-watered computer.
Locate Your Quiet Place near Bathroom Facilities
Drinking water … need more be said?
Maintain Your Area at a Comfortable Temperature
Neither too hot nor too cold. Like staying hydrated, being in an area with a comfortable temperature really helps the creative processes. Too hot, and you feel lethargic. Too cold and you are spending your time shivering or looking for another blanket to wrap up in.
Take a Break, Do Something Fun.
Work intensely for twenty or thirty minutes, then take a short break to renew your mind. Sing a song, skip rope, even take a walk around the block. Do something that is fun and that takes you away from your keyboard for a few minutes.
Spend a Few Minutes in Meditation
Clear out worries, fears, grief or even great passion. The best poetry is written in calm times of remembrance. Often, just shooing away those intrusive thoughts about conversations from the past, or letting go of your emotional reaction to an event at your workplace can make a huge difference to your ability to create. Occasionally, even great joy can be a distraction if you are trying to get something done.
Use a Non-Distracting Typing Medium for Composition
Once you are used to composing on a computer, chances are you will never want to go back to a typewriter again. But a computer page can become very busy and distracting. Use a plain manuscript page that fills your computer screen from side to side. This will help prevent visual distractions while you work or use a website blocker to stay away from distraction.
There You Have It
15 simple things you can do to help clear your mind and get in the mood for creating.
Whether you are writing a book, making a quilt or trying to do the bookkeeping for your entrepreneurship, these are all things that can help you stay focused and on task.
No alien abductions or mad science involved – just simple, commonsense things that can make an amazing amount of difference.