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Will organizing your mind help you organize your life?

6004Remember how technology was supposed to make our lives easier? How’s that working out for you? We used to be able to “go off the grid,” before we even knew what going off the grid meant – heck, going off the grid just meant going home from work. And how about all of those organizational programs and apps out there that are supposed to help us manage our time, our to-do’s, our calendars and our lives. Figured it all out have ya? Figured out how to get the 25th hour out of the 8th day of the week?

Yea, me either.

In their book Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life: Train Your Brain to Get More Done in Less TimePaul Hammerness and Margaret Moore take a new perspective – rather than another time management system, the authors, one a psychiatrist and the other a life coach, posit that if you can organize your mind, you can better organize your life. Face it, there are still only 24 hours in a day, but it seems that some people can get a ton of work done in that time, AND still have time to enjoy family, friends and hobbies, while others of us are just happy we can take care of the stuff that’s on fire.

Hammerness and Moore note that the big issue today is that we are a distracted people (any arguments so far) (Hammerness, Moore xv). “People are multi-tasking probably beyond their cognitive limits,” noted one researcher in their study (Hammerness, Moore xix).

  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the brain activity associated with driving by 37%  (Hammerness, Moore xix)
  • Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in automobile crashes involving a distracted driver  (Hammerness, Moore xix)
  • Using a cell phone, hand held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08% (the legal limit in most states is .05%)  (Hammerness, Moore xviii)
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to be involved in a serious crash

While these examples are all related to driving, the point is that when we think we’re focused on an activity, we typically are not truly focused on that activity, and this is causing us to make mistakes and not operate at our peak effectiveness. Even while I’ve been typing this blog, I stopped to answer two emails and discuss an issue with my wife who walked in with some paperwork. Guilty as charged.

Hammerness and Moore have taken a lot of their research in the A.D.D. community and applied it to our A.D.D. society to provide us with some helpful hints. Overall, the best thing we can learn how to do is to stay focused on one task at a time (Hammerness, Moore xx), but also retain and use the ability to shift focus when we need to.

Think about those who have the ability to stay focused – Derek Jeter, Tom Brady, Steve Job, Hillary Clinton, and J.K. Rowling are just a few that Hammerness and Moore cite (xx). While we celebrate multitasking and take great pleasure in sharing with others how much work we have to do and how we just can’t get it all done, imagine what you could do if you could hold a laserlike focus on your most important life’s outcomes.

Hammerness, Paul Graves., Margaret Moore, and John Hanc. Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life: Train Your Brain to Get More Done in Less Time. New York: Harlequin, 2012. Print.

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