Here are five strategies to help you cultivate an organized mind (adapted from Hammerness & Moore 2012).
- Set an intention. Be intentional and purposefully choose the brain state that’s appropriate for the upcoming task. Intentionally state what your aim, goal or purpose is for the next activity. When you clearly formulate your intentions, it increases the possibility of success (Chambers 2007), awakens the brain’s reward system to anticipate good things, and energizes your mind so that you can devote more mental resources to focus. Before each session, take a moment to remind yourself of your intention. For example, perhaps you want to be deeply present and help your client enjoy exercising.
- Go deep. Invest all of your brain’s resources in just one brain state at a time—dive deep to find the treasures. The more of your undivided attention you devote to a particular state, the richer the experience will be. Savor the connection with clients; or go deep with intellectual curiosity when you learn. The more you savor, listen or think, the more “juice” you can squeeze out of every moment.
- Be agile. Make a quick and complete jump from one brain state to the next, and move all of your mind’s resources, instead of leaving part of your attention on the last task or client or worrying about your next tasks or clients. Switching brain states is different from multitasking, where you splatter your attention across several activities. Multitasking lowers many aspects of brain performance (Wang & Tchernev 2012). Agility means the ability to change attentional focus with intention, like zooming out from the nitty-gritty to the larger picture, or switching from strategic thinking to creative brainstorming.
- Diversify. This strategy suggests making use of many diverse brain states over the course of a day. Think of it as cross-training for your mind. When you diversify the ways you exercise your brain, you improve your overall brain fitness and performance.
- Energize. Power up your brain with good sleep, healthful nutrition and regular exercise so that your brain has the resources it needs to perform well (Dresler et al. 2013).
To read more about how to use imagery to improve performance, please see “Organize Your Mind for Personal Training” in the online IDEA Library or in the June 2016 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.
Hammerness, P. & Moore, M. 2012. Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life. Harvard Health book. Don Mills, ON: Harlequin.