One of the things I find hardest at work is resetting if my morning didn’t go at all as planned; if rather than getting stuck into my planned, focused work I ended up running around like a headless chicken, trying to clear multiple small things that kept popping up like moles in a whack-a game. This leaves my brain in a jittery, scattered state that makes it impossible to focus.
The problem is that a brain in motion will remain in motion unless guided to a restful state. So what to do if your mind is jittery?
- As a preventative measure, never do anything until you’ve planned the day. Having a plan to return to, even though you’ll need to adjust it if your morning’s gone awry, is vital.
- Do something that slows your brain down: walk, meditate, shower, breathe, put on white noise. Fireplace videos on YouTube reduce my jitteriness in an instant.
- Slow down your movements: don’t type at full speed, don’t race your mouse about. Move with the leisure of a child who knows that as soon as they finish their dinner they’ll be told to do their homework.
- Work through progressively harder things. Start with something that requires focus but not for a long time, or that is long but doesn’t require a lot of brain power. Or start by reading rather than writing.
- Tidy up from the previous tasks: close tabs and apps you’re not using, clear your desk of any bits of paper you don’t need. The environmental change suggests a mental change, and your brain may take you up on that offer.
The most important ‘do’ is a ‘don’t’: don’t assume that if you’ve had a jittery morning you’re doomed to a jittery day, and don’t hate yourself if that’s exactly what happens.