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This week, on my first radio show, my guest, Lucas Deschamps talked about doing research when it came to food and what we are eating. I loved Lucas’s comment “Don’t just eat something because it sounds good”. I commented that the advice about keeping an open mind and doing research sounded like what we try and do when we are mindful – are become curious scientists in our experiences. We step back rather than just accepting what our mind tells us.

So, having said that, and with #FocussedFriday in mind, I thought I’d suggest stepping back and noticing thoughts – mental hooks – that might get in the way of us doing the things that are most important to us. These are, I suggest, thoughts that trip us up and have us watching several episodes of Buffy (*cough* – you know who you are) rather than doing what might be more important.

Do any of these sound familiar or trip you up?

  • I’ll do that later – a common hook. My suggestion is to pin a time to it or discard it as a task. One productivity tip I read this week was about discarding one thing from your to do list before even doing it.
  • I’ll do that when I feel….(better, clearer, more sorted, etc) – tricky. Does that really need to happen? I see this in students who are avoiding writing research up because perfectionist thoughts intervene and the associated thought is unless I’m completely confident/sorted/organised, there is no point starting. My suggestion is to set a timer and do a burst of focussed activity on part of it.
  • It will just take 5 minutes – somehow, distraction tasks never take just five minutes. It’s also easy to get caught up in other people’s agendas.
  • There’s no point starting it right now…I’ll just….(check my email, go and have lunch, walk the dog, do…) – start small.
  • This is too hard/complicated/big– Things may seem very big and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Notice your reaction and perhaps your urge to avoid. Deep breath. Is it important to do this task? Can you ask for help, search for an answer, delegate it, or break it up into smaller tasks?

Did any of these mental hooks ring true for you? Any other hooks that you hear?

I have a workshop coming up in Dunedin where I’ll be talking about those mental hooks that keep overthinking in place. 

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