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Defragging Our Minds

by David Brock on June 30th, 2008
We all (or at least Windows people) know that it’s necessary to defrag our hard disks every once in a while. Fragmented hard drives run much slower—I’ve had some that are so fragmented they barely get work done. You can hear the little sucker whirring away, seems like there is a lot going on, but in the end the system slows down to getting very little done.

I’m in my office, frustrated that my computer has slowed down so much, our computer guy told me to defrag the drive. As the computer is doing it’s thing, it struck me that people are a lot like computer hard drives. Sometimes we get too many things going on—driven by too many interruptions. We get so many things going on, we eventually get to the point where we get no work done. We are so fragmented, that while there is activity, there is virtually no output.

Every once in a while we need to defrag our minds. We need to examine what we are doing, how interruptions drive our behavior and the impact on what we accomplish. We’re constantly connected, always on, and multitasking. There’s lots of activity but are we really accomplishing things.

Defragging our minds is tough, but there are some simple things to start:

1. Reduce your dependency on email, messaging, mobile phones, twitter and other technologies that reinforce interruptions.
2. Empty your in box. Even if you can’t reduce your dependency on email, at least empty your inbox–it’s amazing what that accomplishes.
3. Identify your 2 highest priority tasks and schedule time to complete them (or move them significantly forward).
4. Consider going some place where people can’t find you (another part of the building, your local library, some place where you can think and work without distraction).
5. Schedule time to catch up on your reading—both business and recreational reading. It clears your mind, gives you a different perspective and broadens your views.
6. Schedule some exercise or meditation time. Refreshing your body refreshes your mind.

It’s a start, the most important thing is to keep it up, otherwise, it’s amazing how quickly you get fragmented and lose your effectiveness.

Now, I only have to think about that other thing my computer guy told me——memory leaks.

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