Have you ever had so much going on in your mind that you can’t focus on what you need to do in the present?

You’re lying in bed wide awake. Too many things are going through your head. Even though you know you need to sleep, you can’t fall asleep.

You have a work deadline but can’t seem to focus. You have too many other things running through your head. Even though you’re watching the clock, you can’t focus.

Sometimes we just need to clear our minds – or at least put it on pause to focus on the task at hand.

If you have trouble clearing your mind try this 3-step approach.

Step 1: Write or type everything that is running through your mind.

Whether you prefer pen and paper or typing on your laptop, write down everything that you are thinking about at the moment.

This step is a brainstorming activity. Do not stop and edit.

If your fingers can’t keep up with your thoughts or if you’ve never been one for writing, then find a transcription app.

Costs for transcribing audio is more affordable than in the past. There are free apps powered by technology. There are also paid human-powered apps and services.

Another idea is to use your voicemail service if it transcribes messages. For example, Google Voice will transcribe voicemails at no cost.

Leave yourself a voice message on your phone and let your voicemail service transcribe the content.

Step 2: Determine items you control.

Next, review everything you wrote or typed. If you used a service, either copy and paste into a document editing software or print the content.

Go through your list and note everything you can control. This part is tricky because you may not be able to control the act but you can control your reaction.

For example, if you’re worried someone will be late for an upcoming meeting. You can’t control whether that person shows up on time. But you can control how you react.

Step 3: Make A Plan of Action

With the items you can control, make a plan of action.

Using the previous example, while you can’t control if someone will be on time, you can control your reaction. In this type of scenario, I use the worse case approach.

I assume the person will be late. I bring something to do if they are late (usually I catch up on emails). In this way, I’ve managed my own expectations. I don’t become frustrated because they are late – I was expecting it.

When making your plan of action, some people resort to making a list. But if your to-do lists are constantly growing, then use the calendar approach (my new favorite approach).

Pull up you calendar and block off time when you will address that item on your list. Do this for every item. And yes, it may take longer to get everything addressed, but at least you’ve carved out time in your calendar for it.

If an item on your list is complex and you need to figure out what to do, then block off time on your calendar to think about the details. In this way, you don’t become bogged down in the moment thinking about the details.

For example, if you have a business idea, then block off time to develop a plan. You may need to create several blocks of time to address this item since it’s a large endeavor.

Another example is if you need to get away. Block off time on your calendar to figure out the details – affordability, location, etc.

Reclaim your productivity by focusing on the task at hand. If too many things are running through your mind, then follow these three steps to clear your mind.

Stay PEF (positive, enthused, focused) and make 2019 your best year ever!


Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”

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