How To Create A Productive State Of Mind
Have you ever experienced a really productive afternoon? Probably. But can you remember your state of mind? I can, and when I think about it, it’s not what I was expecting.
Step Into The Void
What do you think of when you imagine a state-of-mind for working?
Most people think of a mindset where your brain is buzzing – you are enthused; brimming with ideas; your fingers itch for the keyboard.
When you start you go at it like a whirlwind – you’re doing several things at once; speeding through your checklist.
What kind of mind is this? A full mind, an active mind.
A distracted mind? A frantic mind?
When I have best experienced productivity my mind has been none of these things. Quite the opposite. I believe the most productive state of mind is akin to an empty mind (Agree? Why not tweet it?)
The times where I get most done are those moments where I approach my desk almost like a robot. There is nothing going on. I sit down, I pick the first task of the day, I do it until it is done. I don’t dwell any further. My mind is empty. I do the next task.
Do you see what I mean? It does not sound enticing, but it gets the job done.
I don’t mean to say it’s a mind that cannot be creative or doesn’t know what it’s doing. Ideas still happen (although it might be argued a lot of ideas – of connections taking place – happen away from the page); sentence follows sentence. I may stop and think about a problem (briefly, hopefully). But there is no distraction.
An empty mind can be filled with the task at hand (tweet this)
I guess that’s what they call “living in the moment”.
I have only experienced this a few times, and it comes in groups – I may have a string of productive days for example.
But I think I know some of the ways you can prepare your mind for this.
A Prepared Mind is an Empty Mind (And That’s a Good Thing)
I think the key word here is preparedness. You do most of the thinking now, so when it is time to settle down for work, there is nothing for your mind to do but work.
All the Decisions Have Already been made
If there is nothing to decide, your mind can concentrate on doing, rather than organising what you’re doing.
Here are some of the decisions you can take away from your working mind:
- When to work – build a routine and stick to it.
- How long to work for – don’t pick the moment you sit down to decide how much time you can afford. If something comes up in your day and you know you won’t be able to do all you planned, that moment is the time to decide how much work you will do.
- Where to work – have a dedicated workspace, or if that’s not possible have several, but know ahead of time where you will be working when.
- What to work on – you might decide at the beginning of the day, or the night before. Or you may have dedicated time slots for certain things.
Everything is Waiting for You
That’s the mind mostly taken care of. But now it is prepared you don’t want to distract it with last-minute minutiae. So you should make sure there is no more fiddling to be done between sitting down and working.
- Have a workspace permanently set up – sit down, work. Not sit down, tidy desk, find laptop, find notebook… In an ideal world your device of choice would have your work for the day already waiting, so all you have to do is wake the device and start.
- Get your snacks ready – Or at least decide ahead of time when you will pause to eat a snack or make a drink or whatever.
- Finish your session by preparing for the next – when the alarm goes off, get out your checklist for the next session; bring up the right program on your device. This may also prepare your mind.
So, a few ideas to get you into an empty-mind state, completely driven by the pre-determined work at hand.
Over to you:
But perhaps you have a different idea of what a working state of mind is. When do you feel most productive, and how do you get yourself there? I’m always fascinated to know people’s ideas on productivity, so please leave a comment.