Seven Tips to Rein in Your Racing Mind
If You Want to Increase Your Productivity, Don’t Let Your Mind Stay on Overdrive
“I feel as if I’m on fast-forward. I’m thinking of three things at once.”
“I’m overwhelmed and have a million things on my mind.”
“I just can’t get my arms around all my thoughts and things I have to do.”
These leaders’ minds are flooded with pressures and possibilities. Their worst enemy is their racing mind since they distract themselves with thoughts that fire too rapidly. Feeling overloaded and overwhelmed, they worry about losing control. Will others think they are inefficient or inadequate?
Why might a leader’s mind race?
Sometimes, a racing mind is due to over commitment, over whelm, or plain old stress about tight budgets or uncertainties.
At other times, a racing mind is due to a very creative mind. The leader constantly generates new ideas and applications.
At still other times, feeling pressured, a leader might think and react quickly to situations, perhaps with inadequate information or time to maintain a train of thought.
Whatever the reason, a racing mind makes a leader vulnerable to distraction, just when pinpointed focus, prioritizing, planning, and communication are critical. For example, a leader with a racing mind may talk too quickly or interrupt others. Participants in a meeting may make statements such as, “Wait a minute, slow down” or, “Just let me finish.”
However, specific techniques can help rein in your racing mind:
- Focus on the present and ward off intrusive thoughts. Say, “Stop! Now is not the time to think about this. Now it is time to complete this task.”
- Become more mindful of the way stress pushes you into rapid speech or impulsive responses.
- Take brief breaks during the day to slow down and focus.
- Deal with bouts of untimely creativity. Make a list: “Great ideas that I can’t act upon now.”
- Carve out quiet time for problem solving and decision-making.
- Stop interrupting others. Practice listening more and interrupting less. Jot down your ideas and wait for others to complete their statements. Perhaps, count to 10 in your mind or with your fingers (which are hidden.) or imagine the person begging you for his or her turn to give important information.”
- Get thoughts out of your head and on to paper. However, don’t end up with a 50-item “To Do” list. First, brainstorm all the tasks you need to do, next prioritize them, then, guesstimate the time required for each task, and lastly, schedule in your planner.
By necessity, a leader needs awareness about, and management of his or her racing mind. Simple solutions and tips help go a long way to quell the over-active mind. However, if you confront significant challenges from a racing mind, seek advice from an expert such as a physician, psychologist, or other specialist. Realize that a racing mind can be a side effect of medication, an indication of emotional distress, or a symptom of an attention difficulty.
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