Most of us are familiar with the concept of “inbox zero”, the state (and long-term goal) of having and keeping an empty inbox. Productivity blog Johnny Moneyseed explains why it’s even more important to apply this concept to your mind.
As the site explains, our brains have a habit of repeatedly reminding us of things we’re stressed about or need to accomplish. This is brain clutter. Getting everything out of your system and on to a to-do list, calendar or notebook frees up your precious brain power for the things that really matter:
Researchers say that everyday about 50,000 thoughts go through our heads. This can be anything from thinking “damn that girl/guy is sexy” to “I need to buy a garbage bag full of lemons this week.” 50,000 thoughts that range anywhere from the trivial to the oh-shit-total-life-crisis and most of these thoughts that could be actionable end up wasting brain energy.
Have you ever had a thought that occurred more than once concerning something that you had to accomplish? Maybe your thought was something like this: “I really need to send a card to my uncle Norbert”. You didn’t act on it, because you knew that you didn’t have to immediately. But then that thought rolled into your subconscious mind again. What you don’t realise is that this thought is actually causing you stress, and that’s why your brain regurgitated it. Your brain has been silently stressing itself out over your lack of action.
One of the easiest ways to put this principle into practice is to use the two-minute rule. If a task can be done in two minutes, do it. If it can’t, but it needs to get done, write it down. You might not reach brainbox zero (OK, maybe that’s not quite as pithy) all the time, but the closer you can get, the less stressful getting things done can be.
Zero your cerebral inbox. [Johnny Moneyseed]