“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.” ― Joshua Becker
One of the challenges I faced early on is a mind that is always jumping around. From one thought to another. From one worry to another.
Even when my body is idle, my mind is busy. The proverbial monkey brain.
And, sometimes I used to hit the zone. I was relaxed. Started to enjoy the moment. All in into whatever I was doing.
But these lasted for a few minutes and soon I was back to my usual self.
So, I started experimenting and seeing what works or not.
How can I get into the zone more often?
There is the whole body of research happening on this. Scientists are trying to understand what helps us reach that point.
But it all starts with decluttering your mind. Over time, we collect too much garbage. Experiences that shape our thinking. Leave back impression that we can not get rid of.
And then there is evolution. How our minds have evolved over thousands of years to react to situations. We still carry the fear our ancestors faced while hunting at Savannah…..though only place where we see a Lion is in a zoo.
All these have impacted our day to day living.
How we decide and spend time?
So, is there a quick way to get out of this?
Here is what seems to be working.
1. Declutter your physical space:
“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” ― Wendell Berry
Our mind reflects our surroundings. It takes the cue and develops thoughts accordingly. The first thing to do is to declutter your living space. Throw away all the things that are of no value to you. Things you do not even recall when you use last time. Same for your workspace.
“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there — buried” ― S.J. Scott
Practice this every day. Set aside a particular time. There are a few meditation apps that might be useful. Stick to it for a while. The key to meditation is not to try too hard. Observe how your mind works, from a distance. Like you are watching someone else. Improve meditation time over a period.
3. Listen to music:
“Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies.” ― Edward Bulwer-Lytton
I have found listening to right sort of music helps a lot. Usually the one with a moderate tempo. Experiment with different tracks and see which one works for you.
Right music helps to focus, do great work and build good mood.
“True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united” — Wilhelm von Humboldt
Go out. Go for a run. Or hit the gym. Physical activity releases endorphins in our brain. It helps to improve the cognitive ability. Make brain more robust and free. Those who exercise regularly for a while. Know the feeling. For those who don’t, go out and give it a try. You will thank me later.
5. Set aside a time:
“what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore — plays in defining the quality of our life.” ― Cal Newport
Set aside a time every day for deep work. Things that really matter. Find a topic you are passionate about.
Maybe an hour first thing in the morning. Doing it regularly will help you to build a habit. Your body and mind will be primed to get into the zone. You will make the transition smoothly.
I have written about the process here in more details.
6. Stop the frequency of social media:
“Behind him, he heard Ronan say, “I like the way you losers thought Instagram before first aid. Fuck off.” ― Maggie Stiefvater
Social media is addictive. It continuously feeds our mind with information that is of no use. Use it carefully. If you are the marketing person and need to use it for your work, you will have a more analytical view of the platforms. But if you are one of many billion users, set aside a time for checking your facebook or twitter or snapchat. Do not make those as default browsing whenever you are bored. Instead, pick up a book.
7. Sleep without fear:
“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” ― Ernest Hemingway
Go to bed at a particular time every day. You will need seven/eight hours sleep to function effectively. The world will still be here when you wake up.
Stop using your mobile phones an hour before going to sleep. Those blue lights have a negative impact on your sleep.
Stop notifications. There is a reason notifications are in red color. Red attracts our attention very quickly.
8. Stop absorbing junk:
“Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and the junk food as far away as possible.” ― Krista Scott-Dixon
Stop watching junk movies, reading junk books and eating junk foods. They do not add any value. Stop junk relationships. People who are negative and do not support you.
Free yourself from unnecessary consumption. Clean up your body and mind.
Oh, and one more way…
9. Read a book
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” ― George R.R. Martin
Make a habit of reading books. Books that interest you. That takes you to another world. Expand your horizon. Open up new world. Blogs and newspapers don’t count.
Stick to finishing at least a few books every month.