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Wait, what was I doing again?

 23rd Apr 2019

Wait, what was I doing again?

Procrastination and mind wandering in the work place is pretty common. With access to more online tools than ever and thus the ability to take on more tasks at once, a lot of people lose focus at work, forget what they’re doing, or don’t know where to start and end up procrastinating to avoid the workload.

People’s minds wander as much as 50% of the time, and I know that’s true because I’m only two sentences into this blog and I’ve already stopped to stare out the window three times.

Sometimes letting your mind wander is helpful. It allows you time to explore solutions to the problems your facing. According to Psychology today, ‘when you procrastinate, unconsciously your mind is working on getting the task done.’ Your mind tries out a variety of combinations and solutions so that when you get around to tackling the task, you have more ideas on what to do.

Likewise, letting you mind wander can be good for getting creative. The most creative and original ideas usually come when you’re not trying to force them and when your mind wanders, it can subliminally glue together multiple sources of inspiration.

 

But, what do you do when it’s becoming a bit of a problem?

Procrastinating a bit and daydreaming every now and again is fine, but if you’re losing focus or forgetting your train of thought every five minutes, surprise surprise, that’s going to be detrimental to your productivity. Here’s a couple of tips for the wandering minds in the workplace:

 

Break it down. At university, I wrote every essay I did the night before the due date. I procrastinated and ignored each piece of work until early evening and stayed up till 8am in a last-minute writing frenzy. The work still got done and the grades were still good, but it was pretty stressful and filled with plenty of those ‘I hate myself’ moments. The reason I always left it to the last second is because I never broke the workload down and wasn’t accountable to anyone but myself, so I just avoided the whole essay. If you don’t set smaller, more manageable, deadlines for your work, you too, might end up 6 energy drinks deep at 5am on a Thursday night trying to tackle the whole task in one go. If you can, talk to your boss about getting them to set more frequent deadlines for smaller amounts of work, or break the workload down by yourself.

 

Try some mindfulness. Sometimes to be able to focus properly on a task, you have to take some time to de-clutter your mind. There are a number of apps you can download to your phone like ‘Headspace’ and ‘Calm’, which offer guided meditation exercise that encourage mindfulness. Taking just a minute or two out of your day to use something like this can help clear your thoughts and bring you back to your task with a more focused approach.

 

Do you need more help? Are you avoiding something because you don’t feel ready or capable of doing it? Sometimes letting your mind wander and putting off the task isn’t going to conjure any solutions. Sometimes you might need to search for a bit of external help from a boss or colleague, to get a clearer idea of what it is you need to do or how to go about doing it.

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