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Investerior | Why an organised mind is the most important link to happiness.
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30 May Why an organised mind is the most important link to happiness.

Time to get organized in the age of information overload.

Organized mind, organized life. A common expression, but how does that work?

I love a clean home, but sometimes you can have a moment that it feels like every little effort is too much. For instance,¬†I am looking at a pile of clothes for 5 days already.¬†Telling myself ever night. Don’t go to bed before you have cleaned that mess. I know it will take me 4 minutes MAX, but still I can’t bring it up. I tell myself that it’s okay, there are other more important things to do. Like either finishing that article, or going to bed early so I can have a good night sleep and finish it tomorrow. During¬†this decision making process I feel that working or relaxing is contributing more to my succes and thus happiness than cleaning my mess. But you know what, I understand now that that may be the biggest mistake ever made. I will explain why.

Last week¬†I bumbed into a book called; ‘The Organized Mind – Thinking straight in the age of information overload’.
I bought it because my mind was spinning like crazy.¬†I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t think. I couldn’t work. I went for a walk and found myself in a bookstore in front of a book that will fix my problem.¬†A guide to solve my unorganized, crazy chaotic mind. You may understand that at this point I just wanted something like: ‘Follow this single step to have an organized mind in less than 5 seconds”. This was not it. No self help, no implementation tips. Nothing quick and easy. A bit disappointing for the restless¬†state of mind I was in.¬†But you know what. I said to¬†myself:¬†DON’T RUSH. YOU’LL GET THERE. YOU HAVE ONLY READ THE INTRO PAGE. THIS IS YOUR PROBLEM. SLOW THE F*CK DOWN. So I pushed myself to keep on reading. And yes, also in this case, patience was rewarded. Forget about the self help tips, this book gave me something much better. The book showed me what the source of¬†this whole non-organized mind problem is. And when you find the source of the problem, you can tackle it.

So in a nutshell the problem is this: information overload. And this information overload results in decision overload. And you know what a common result of decision overload is? Unproductivety and loss in drive.

Daniel J. Levitin, the writer, explains that we can only make a number of decisions a day and once you’ve reached your limit, you can not make any more, regardless of how important the decisions is. And that is a problem because recent studies have showed that the decision making network in our brain doesn’t prioritize. Everything that catches your attention, and trust me that is A LOT nowadays, needs to be processed and all this¬†processing makes our brain tired. If the first thing you do when you wake up is scroll through your facebook and instagram feed, you will have used some off your precious limitid attention capacity on lots of unimportant stuff like a cat that wears shoes or on the question why you’re the only one that didn’t know what the Running Man is.

I think that in the information age we live in it is so extremely important to give our brain a rest. You can start your day by doing the things first that you know are important. But I think we should also start scheduling hours in our daily routine  in which we totally disconnect. Go hit flightmode during your lunch break and just go mind-wandering (this state of the brain deserves a whole article on its own, stay tuned).

Now the million dollar question. How do we get an organized mind and how does an organized mind link to your happiness? We can say that our minds are organized when we have managed to reduce and control the decisions we have to make. Most extremely successful people understand this science, that is why they have a team of people making decisions for them and filtering every piece of information before it reaches them so their boss can focus. On what need their dedicated attention. Not having to be busy with things that are not important seems to be contributing to your happiness. But how do you focus on the important if you do not have a squat making daily decisions for you? By Satisficing. A marbulous, Nobel-prize winning word. Satisficing is a term to describe not the very best option, but one that is good enough. Happy people seem to engage in satisficing all the time. This means that happy people are fvery quickely satisfied with situation of all things that are not their highest priority. And since they have not more than a hand full of things at their highest priority, they are quickly satisfied with a tremendous amount of things. This means the decisions you have to make are reduces tremendously. You don’t care if you eat bagels or yoghurt for breakfast. You pick the thing the one in front of you, your satisfied with in and you go on. The only time you use the persuit of excellence strategy is in situations that have your personal highest priorty. And please, make sure you don’t make everything your highest personal priority, because than this doesn’t work. Pick one priority, maybe two and for the rest just pick the good enough option. Don’t try to get the excellent option for everything. Research says that Happy people are not the people who have more, they are the people who are happy with what they already have.

So there we are. Suddenly I understood why cleaning my mess is just the soort of thing I should do.¬†Not because it’s my highest priority, but because that early sleep or extra work isn’t either but at least the cleaning is going to satisfy me. And even more important, when you have things organized it means you get rid of any distracting objects that draw your attention because they are not where they should be. We are triggered by change.¬†GIVE YOUR BRAIN A REST.¬†Don’t shock your brain every time it sees that pile of clothes sitting there on my bookshelf.

Share your thought in a comment! High-priorty action!

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