How To Cope With Brain Overload By Prioritizing What You Hate Most
It’s time to turn your to-do list upside down and actually get shit done.
Do you ever feel like your brain is so full that no matter how hard you attempt to concentrate, you just can’t get anything done? Like you’re constantly distracted because of the 25 browser tabs open inside your head?
You’re not alone: Between increased workloads, looming deadlines and constant Instagram notifications, plenty of us are suffering from brain overload. And, since the work commitments and social media alerts aren’t going anywhere, you’re gonna have to find a way to deal.
It's not going to be the most fun process, but it’s definitely going to leave you with more time for things you enjoy, and hopefully, you'll feel way more chilled in the process. Here goes.
Clear your workspace (then your mind)
Messy desk/bedroom/dining table? Don't you hate that? We’ve just identified your first problem—and the first thing you need to take care of in your quest for calm. Vicky Silverthorn, a professional organizer and author of Start With Your Sock Drawer: The Simple Guide To Living A Less Cluttered Life, explains: “If visually our surroundings are full of clutter then our minds can’t help but feel that way too. The impact disorganization and visual clutter can have on the mind is enormous.”
Vicky continues: “Being responsible for every single item we own is a lot of pressure, as is thinking about finding a place something, putting it away or even just looking at it each day.” So the old "out of sight, out of mind" thing rings true. Get yourself some sweet storage and you’re good to go.
Make a not-to-do list
Writing lists is a great way to get things out of your head, taking your tasks from mental to physical, and enabling you to free up a little bit of headspace in the process. But what if you started making a list of the stuff you refuse to do anymore?
Committing to spending less time worrying about what you're going to wear each day or saying "sorry" less are just examples, but you get the picture. Start with what you're no longer going to waste your time with, and you'll be surprised how much time is left over for things you love.
There are also a ton of apps you can use to help with your list-making if you want to get a little more fancy. MinimaList, for example, is free and easy to use with timers you can set to complete your assignment within a specific period, and reminder notifications so you literally can’t forget when you have something due.
“Getting the mundane and less appealing jobs out of the way is often the most rewarding of all,” says Silverthorn. “It’s like the split second when you decide if you’re going to work out or not; you have to make sure the positive decision wins. The more you practice this, the more in-control you’ll feel. Once you say out loud that you’re doing something, your body follows your mind’s lead, and then before you know it, it’s done.” Tax return, come at me.
Do one thing at a time
How many times have you started a task, got bored, abandoned it for something else and then reluctantly had to return to the OG job, feeling even more drained and uninspired than you did before? Sure, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break mid-chore, but keep it short and use that time to recharge instead of focusing your brainpower elsewhere.
Change your language
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being forced to do something, but if you start thinking about those dull AF list points as things you can do now rather than things you have to do now, it can make a huge difference. Keep up the positive speak and you could even start to enjoy doing laundry. Maybe.
It might sound like something you’d read on an Instagram quote feed, but there really is something to be said about actually being in a moment, rather than thinking about the next one. Vicky agrees: “It’s amazing how much of our days are spent on autopilot—on our way to somewhere, always concentrating on the end goal of whatever we are doing. We have to try to enjoy the getting there more.”
Words: Jennifer Lynn
Photo: Daria Kobayashi Ritch