We all have days (or weeks) where we are scattered and overwhelmed, where we feel pulled in too many directions. Maybe you have a million ideas and don’t know which one to start with. Maybe you feel like you are sinking under the weight of undone tasks. Or maybe, every time you find a minute to start on an important project you get interrupted, and finding focus seems impossible.
Whatever the reason, here are three simple tricks to try when you are feeling scattered.
GO FOR A WALK
Whether you can only squeeze in a quick walk around the block, or you are able to head to a local trail for a longer stroll, getting outside and moving your body will help clear the fog. Leave your phone at home (or put it on do not disturb). Resist the temptation to turn on music or a podcast. Just let your mind wander. See what pops to the surface. You might be surprised by the solutions to nagging problems that your brain comes up with during a walk. Did you know there is a link between walking and creative thinking? Sometimes a brief change of scenery and a little fresh air is all you need to regain focus.
MAKE A LIST
You can turn this into an experience by lighting a candle and sitting down with your favorite notepad, fanciest pen, and drink of choice—or you can just grab a sheet of printer paper and the nearest pen. Though there are lots of list-making apps out there, consider doing this the old-fashioned way: research shows that writing by hand improves your memory.
Once you’ve collected your supplies, start writing — write anything that comes to mind, no matter how big or small. Flip through your planner, scroll through your emails and texts, and get every single to-do down on paper. Nothing is too small to add to the list. Don’t worry about it looking pretty—just focus on getting everything floating around in your head down on paper.
Once you have your list drafted, you might want to break it down into a few categories. Grab your highlighters to color code, or get out a new sheet of paper to make a clean copy. You can organize by category (work, home, project) or by type of task (email, phone call, errand).
Then start small. What on this list can be done in five minutes or less? Set a timer for twenty minutes and knock off as many as you can.
Next, prioritize what’s left. Decide what’s urgent and what can wait. Break down the bigger projects into smaller steps, make a plan—and don’t forget to write your plan down!
QUIET THE DISTRACTIONS
Both physical and digital clutter can make you feel scattered, and calming the chaos will help you find clarity.
- Is your overflowing inbox keeping you from seeing the emails you really need? Unsubscribe is your friend.
- Have emails you don’t need to see every day but want to keep for reference? Set up folders and file them away.
- Is social media too much for you right now? Constantly consuming others’ content can make it difficult to figure out what direction you need to go. Think about who you are following and consider how they make you feel. It might be time to unfollow or mute accounts that aren’t serving you.
If you are feeling especially overwhelmed every time you open social media, think about taking a break—a week off is a great place to start—or setting a dedicated time away from those apps each week. Think about logging off during the weekends or choosing to stay offline for a certain time block during the day.
Physical clutter can make you feel scattered too. Is your kitchen counter piled with bills? Set a timer for twenty minutes and see what you can sort through. Stand right by the trash can while you sort so you can get rid of the junk immediately. Is there an area of your house that stresses you out the most when it’s a mess? Because the kitchen is a hub of activity, people often find that keeping the kitchen clean and clutter-free is more impactful than any other area of the home. Take a few minutes to tackle the clutter and get ready to find clarity!
Next time you are feeling scattered, don’t let yourself spin further out into chaos. Instead, take a deep breath and pick one of these simple tricks to start regaining control of your day.