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It is easy to accumulate stuff, like unfiled papers and half-read books or unfinished projects. If left unattended, they can pile up and can spiral out of control. At some point, you can get fed up and tidy up, and then the cycle starts anew.
Unsorted papers and books are as problematic as unsorted thoughts that accumulate over time. "I should maybe do something about X." Once we've collected a few hundred of these mental-sticky notes, the mind becomes a cloud of unsorted stuff that's bothering us.
There is a way to re-organize your unresolved thoughts and separate the important from the messy mental pile. In the quiet of the day, you sit down with a pencil and paper and ask yourself three questions.
When you ask what you're anxious about, you may not have a clear answer. You may have fragments of responses that may not make much sense by itself. For example, "I am anxious about floorboards. Book mess."
Record these answers as they will give a hint about the main sore points in the back of your mind.
Once you've collected your fragments of responses, pass it through a second tier of questions that is more pointed to find out what lies behind the initial associations and impressions. If you're upset with someone, ask, "What part of myself feels danger here?"
This process will turn the cloud of stuff back into concerns you can name and understand. It dissolves any sense of being held back by thoughts.
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Spend 5 minutes each morning preparing your task list to have only accomplishable tasks that fit the time you have available. Keep other tasks on a holding list for another day.
Set a timer for 15 minutes, shut out the world and concentrate with intense focus on one and only one task. Closing your door and turning off your phone and internet are specially important.
Recognize that not everything in your list must be done. When in doubt, delete it from your list; if it is important you’ll eventually add it back.
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No one knows where you are and what you are doing, and that can be an advantage, but also can be misused.
The schedule that makes you start early, and mimic the office hours works best, as you end up being free earlier too. However, night owls may find working at night to be more productive or comfortable for them.
Maintaining a schedule in a routine, while incorporating regular exercise with it, works best.
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Solving a problem is very difficult when its cause is hard to trace. You can’t isolate the trouble the same way you would dunk a leaky inner tube into a bathtub to see where the bubbles come out, for example.
What you can do is try to focus on better inputs: i.e, if you're struggling because of the pandemic and its social and health consequences, try pouring more vegetables, books, and exercise into the front end of the system, while reducing the intake of sugar, Netflix, and news.
There are 2 types of feel-better activities: