7 mins read | 9 science – based tools to get unstuck

A lot of us today are affected by something called cognitive overload. It is a concept in cognitive psychology, which simply means too much information or too many tasks makes our brain get overloaded. 

It impairs our ability to make decisions and also use memory effectively. It also brings mental slowness, confusion, difficulty in concentrating and problem-solving. What we need to understand is that we do not experience the world directly but through our mind. All the world appears in the mind as a thought or sensory data which we give meaning to. 

If we are not careful, we end up getting stuck in the mind and staying in that state for a long period of time. 

Here are simple ways to get stuck and come out of this overload and perform super effectively.

1. Reduce social media usage 

Social media apps are designed to hack your attention. Attention is the real currency in the world we live in today. The incessant consumption of information gets the mind too exhausted, and it reduces our motivation, will, clarity and the ability to think and work effectively. 

2. The big task lingering in your mind.

Another reason for cognitive overload is when we have a big task to finish, and we are simply overwhelmed by it. The bigger the task seems, the more overwhelming you feel. The key here is to simply break the task into smaller chunks. Finishing work in a smaller chunk is easier to accomplish. For the brain, there is no threat but a simple task to accomplish. You can only move a mountain, throwing one stone at a time. 

3. Blurred boundaries

When we fail to build a boundary between our professional and personal lives, a mess starts getting created. It is very important to create crystal clear demarcation and timelines for the priorities in your life. 

We bring office work into our home, that reduces family time, which creates guilt, which affects your work, and the stress it creates affects your health and then family gets affected. 

Small habits grow into big habits. You can extinguish a bigger fire by pouring a cup of water at the right time. 

4. Meditation 

Research has shown that as low as 20 mins meditation daily can bring tremendous benefits. Improving awareness, memory, emotional regulation, perception, energy level, clarity of mind and so many other benefits. This is one of the most powerful hacks we can learn to improve our lives. 

5. Diffused thinking 

I learned from Prof Barbara Oakley, Professor of engineering, Oakland University, the power of focused and diffused thinking. 

Focused thinking is our ability to analyze and solve problems sequentially. It uses the existing neural pathways & thought patterns. It uses the conscious mind, faculties like concentration, planning and problem-solving. 

Diffused thinking leverages the subconscious mind. It gets active when you relax, and stop concentrating. Different parts of the brain get active to process and think and help you come up with amazing creative insights and solutions. It is generally active when we are taking a shower or a relaxed walk. 

Activating more diffused thinking can help us bring innovative ideas to solve problems and make progress. 

6. Perfectionism 

A lot of us have huge tasks piling up because we love to get things done perfectly. But the reality is in most situations, the work keeps pending and never gets completed. This is a trap we go into. Creating excellence at work is a process. 

Once you complete the first level of work, then the brain is free to think more deeply about the topic. The key is do not aim to be perfect the first time. Version One is better than version none.

7. Navy SEAL breathing method 

To release stress and be more calm in stressful situations, Navy SEALs use a technique called 4*4 breathing or box breathing. It is also known to improve mental wellbeing, heightens cognitive performance, and improves the body’s reaction to stress. 

The method is simple. Inhale slowly through your nose and mentally count to four. Hold your breath for 4 counts. Exhale from your mouth for 4 counts. Hold for 4 counts. This is one cycle. Do this for 10-12 cycles at one go. You will see a remarkable shift in your state. 

8. Trigger of happiness 

Tons of research highlights the power of happiness in our lives. It improves our relationships, productivity, health, performance and so many other parameters. Famous happiness researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book “The How of happiness” suggests amazing science – backed tools to improve happiness. 

Simple habits like practising acts of kindness, nurturing relationships, forgiveness, cultivating optimism, maintaining a gratitude list, physical exercise etc. make a significant spike in your happiness.

9. Shift your energy 

The quality of our energy impacts the quality of our lives. If we stay in higher energy, we can get things done faster, achieve better results and make progress. Low energy delays things. It makes us stuck. 

Think of activities which bring your energy to a high level. Dancing, singing songs, using your body differently, stretching or doing affirmation. Choose your high – energy activities and repeat them frequently throughout the day to increase your energy.

These are simple yet powerful tools to get unstuck and bring results.

Apply them and see the impact.

Be iconic and get unstuck

Avinash Anand Singh

Breakthrough coach 

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