It has been a couple of years since I’ve initiated a long-term experiment of any kind. I think the last one was when I published daily for a year.
I began that experiment just as I was about to burn out. I’d committed to the process, though, so I learned from my over-caffeinated mistakes, and stayed the course even though I had a good six months of recovery ahead of me before I started feeling normal again.
The blogging probably helped me process some things I needed to along the way.
As I begin this 90-day experiment, it’s a little like I’m working my way out of a burnout, but a burnout of a decidedly different kind. How I feel right now is a bit like how I felt before leaving for Japan in 2017 – nauseous, exhausted, and emotionally depleted.
(It’s nice to know there’s nothing new under the sun.)
This showed up for me even though I’ve been doing all the right things this year – meditating, working out, getting massages, eating healthy… to be fair, some of these habits did fall in and out of fashion at times.
My only explanation for what I’ve been experiencing in the last few weeks is underlying exhaustion. Something that was stewing beneath the surface that I wasn’t aware of.
(I jokingly called it post-lockdown stress disorder, though there might be some truth to that.)
It’s clear I’m still on the path of recovery, though I feel I can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
And so, I’m ready to embrace a new experiment, one where I intentionally and deliberately choose my inputs as opposed to taking in the same things I always do and expecting to reap greatness.
I watched this video yesterday, and it got me thinking…
If everything I read, listen to, or watch is affecting what I’m manifesting, then I’m not exactly on the track I want to be on. It’s time for a bit of a change, and it’s time for a bit of a detox too, if you will.
Importantly, I wanted to start this experiment to:
Love and forgive myself, and my past, as I never have before.
Love and forgive others as I never have before.
Love God as I never have before.
If I focus on these fundamentals, it’s more than likely that I will manifest amazing things as a byproduct. But that’s not why I’m doing this. I’m doing this because lately I’ve been calling into my life things I don’t want. Nothing disastrous, but nothing desired either.
It has been said that the secret of your future is hidden in your routine. So, it’s my hypothesis that there are things in my routine that aren’t working, and if I make a few simple shifts, I will get myself back on a better track.
What Are the Rules?
I’m allowed to read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos. But I must intentionally choose things that are uplifting, inspirational, or informative. No fluffy entertainment, and nothing that is fear-based. This is the crux of the experiment.
Meditate three times per week for at least a total of 60 minutes. I currently meditate closer to 90 minutes per day, so this should not be a struggle.
I’m not going to force myself to blog daily about the experiment, though I’m sure I will come quite close in the end.
No porn (definition: anything that turns you on). Some say porn is harmless, others say it’s harmful, and there are plenty of opinions of grey in between. I don’t know either way, but I don’t think addictive behaviors are going to support clear, positive thinking, so I’m abstaining.
But Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work, does it?
For the purposes of this experiment, let’s accept the premise that what you’re thinking about is always manifesting in some way, shape, or form.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the exact thing you’re thinking about is manifesting. Rather, you’re manifesting the feeling that accompanies the thought.
Let’s say you were annoyed about getting a headache yesterday. You don’t get a headache today, but that feeling of annoyance was significant enough that it brought in more things to be annoyed about today. Maybe you spill your delicious, healthy green smoothie all over the carpet, as an example.
The thing is events themselves are neutral and we can respond to them as we choose. We can laugh about the spilt smoothie. We can become exasperated at the spilt smoothie. We can punch the wall and injure our hand.
So, besides being intentional about inputs, this experiment is also about choosing a response as life shows up.
I know I called this the “Thinking Positively” experiment, but it’s a simplistic (and possibly even crude) title.
The experiment is more so about becoming aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, choosing what to feel, and filling one’s mind with positive inputs.
Onwards & Upwards
Follow along with me if you’d like to see what happens next.
One of the challenges of the modern entrepreneur, project manager, or really anyone who’s trying to gain a better understanding of their company’s overall productivity is tracking, gathering, managing, and monitoring relevant data.
Besides being one of the most versatile productivity tools available, ClickUp is continually adding great new features, striving to be ever better as your hybrid Asana / Notion / Trello solution. And one of the latest exciting features is ClickUp Dashboards.
What are Dashboards in ClickUp? Let’s explore.
What are ClickUp Dashboards?
Emails, status updates, notifications… this is the domain of the modern worker. It’s nearly impossible to get away from the noise telling you things you already know about what’s going on with your department’s projects.
Let’s say it like it is – as useful as it might be to keep tabs on how the projects are progressing… unless you have the time and the means to gather, organize, and visualize the data in meaningful ways, you’re up a creek without a paddle.
ClickUp Dashboards work double duty as a task manager and a reporting tool, visualizing relevant data and supplying you with valuable takeaways you can apply to manage your projects and productivity.
Further, you can use the data to identify and address bottlenecks, edit tasks and workloads, add needed notes, and cover other essential functions.
Oh, and did I mention that Dashboards are customizable? Yes, you can set up Dashboards to match your exact needs.
That means even if you’re a solopreneur, a small team, a school, a financial professional, or another, there is a way to make ClickUp Dashboards work for you. It’s not just for big teams – it can be for individuals too.
What Types of Dashboards Can You Create?
This is probably one of the greatest things about ClickUp Dashboards – it’s highly customizable!
The following are just some of the many categories you can cover with Dashboards:
Customer service or customer support. Monitor support tickets, track response or resolution time, set goals, and more.
Software development. Set up team wikis and knowledgebases, keep tabs on relevant discussions, track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and more.
Event planning. Set up a calendar, track event tasks, set deadlines, and more.
Education and class management. Plan the semester, add a course syllabus, set weekly targets, and more.
Finance. Keep an eye on trends, measure revenue by department, embed Excel spreadsheets, and more.
Healthcare. Monitor patients admitted, maintain an up-to-date staff availability calendar, measure average waiting time, and more.
Marketing. Track clicks and impressions, measure email Return on Investment (ROI), set up a list of project tasks, and more.
Personal. Create a daily planner and personal Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution for yourself. Add to-dos, set personal goals, embed your calendar, and more.
You get the idea. ClickUp Dashboards are applicable across a wide range of uses – product development, Quality Assurance (QA), remote teams, sales department, and so on.
Ready to try ClickUp? There is no risk involved. You can try their Free Forever plan or check out their premium plans that will scale with your company. Simply click on the link to get started NOW.
What Types of Widgets Are There?
Widgets are what you’ll be using to set up your custom ClickUp Dashboard. There are many widgets, and I can’t cover all of them here, but I will be looking at some of the more popular options.
Let’s look at five widget types that are sure to get a lot of use:
Time tracking widgets. The perfect tool for monitoring overall productivity. Explore which projects are taking up the most time. Or find out if your teams are overcapacity.
Status widgets. Use status widgets to track the number of tasks in progress, tasks completed, time spent across multiple tasks, and so on.
Custom widgets. Set up line charts, pie charts, portfolios, text blocks, chat, and more.
Goals widgets. Track the progress of specific projects in real-time.
Embed widgets. Add essential content from outside ClickUp – Google Docs, YouTube videos, tweets, and more.
How do I Ensure I Set Up My Dashboard Correctly?
Whether you’re new to ClickUp or have never used Dashboards before, it can sometimes be hard to know how to get started.
There aren’t too many things you need to be thinking about as you define your data story, but if you take advantage of the following tips, you should have an easier time getting it right.
Determine Who Your Dashboard is for
Is your Dashboard for you? For your partners? Your collaborators? Your team? Knowing your audience will help you determine how to make effective use of your Dashboard.
In addition to your audience, take some time to understand the problem and the story you need to tell using data.
Identify the KPIs that Matter to You or Your Organization
What do you want to track? Having gotten clear on who will be using the Dashboard, you should have a good idea of what KPIs matter. If not, spend some time determining this. When it comes to measurement, specific is always better.
There are different widgets suited to different purposes. Find the right ones for the job. For example, if you need to calculate the number of tasks in progress for a specific KPI, take advantage of the Calculation widget.
Customize the Dashboard Layout
The goal of any layout is to communicate key insights in a clear and efficient manner. You may not be able to figure this out on the first go around, but if you commit to iteration (also see next point), you should be able to nail down your formula.
What does your audience think of your Dashboard? Is it working for them?
Ask for feedback ongoingly and iterate as necessary. If you keep reading up on best practices and listen to feedback, you will nail a winning formula in short order.
Setting Up a Dashboard
The great news about setting up a new Dashboard inside ClickUp is the fact that there are several templates to choose from. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel if you don’t want to!
There are only three types of Dashboard templates by default, but we imagine ClickUp plans to add more. They are as follows:
Time Tracking Dashboard
I set up a Simple Dashboard and ClickUp populated the following:
A welcome message
Docs, Files & Links
While this is not the exact setup I would use for personal productivity or event management (two things that are very close to home), I found that the Dashboard was very easy to customize.
New cards are also easy to add and configure, and there are plenty to choose from.
I’m a big fan of any tool that makes life easier, and sometimes an easily customizable and configurable dashboard is exactly that. I sense a lot of potential in ClickUp Dashboards, and for me, it would mostly be a matter of gathering the right information and having a good sense of how it would complement my workflow to boost efficiency.
For any individual or company thinking about using ClickUp Dashboards, I think the same thing would apply.
Is ClickUp already a part of your ecosystem? If so, is adoption strong? And if adoption is solid, do you have specific KPIs to track? If you have KPIs to track, would they benefit from visualization? And if so, would a Dashboard solution work? And would you and your team check in on the dashboard regularly?
All these questions would be pertinent for anyone thinking about taking advantage of this decidedly cool functionality.
While I cannot say that Dashboards is at a “must-have” level for me yet, that could certainly change as I continue to experiment and explore the possibilities, which are admittedly many.
Have you given ClickUp a try yet? If not, and you’re interested in improving your productivity, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain! ClickUp offers a convenient Free Forever plan for those who want to try it out, and they also have Unlimited, Business, and Enterprise plans for those who know what they need. Get started now.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of action items on your to-do list?
Are appointments, meetings, or due dates slipping through the cracks?
We all drop the ball from time to time. But in my experience, a cluttered mind is largely self-inflicted, and it often stems from laziness, shiny object syndrome, or even hyper-ambition.
So, how can you declutter your mind and cultivate super focus once more?
Here are the main categories to explore.
Time-tested wisdom says if your desk is a mess, your mind is a mess too. This is true to the extent that unfinished things will eat away at psychic energy that could be better allocated and utilized.
Whenever I notice garbage, bottles, and cans piling up in my car, I know that my mind is starting to become more encumbered too. It alerts me to the fact that I’m not making my car (and organization) a priority.
Here are several other areas that should be addressed when considering your physical world:
Is your house a mess? Are dishes piling up? Do you have boxes of stuff sitting in your garage you haven’t touched in years? Spend a weekend cleaning up, deciding what to keep, sell, give away, or throw away.
Is your car a mess? Spend a few hours this weekend cleaning, sorting, and organizing it.
Do you have clothes you don’t like or don’t wear? Sell or donate excess clothing. Only keep in your closet what you wear and reduce decision fatigue. Make it a habit to invest in fewer items of high-quality clothing.
Begin to eliminate from your life, home, and environment what isn’t 100% essential to you and your work.
Exercise, eat well, supplement, cleanse, meditate, sleep. Improve your health and well-being. I’m not a health practitioner. Seek professional advice whenever and wherever applicable.
Most people’s emotional life resembles that of a Six Flags rollercoaster ride rather than that of the flat, dry, windy prairies of Southern Alberta, Canada.
The ideal is to be happy as much of the time as you possibly can. People can go through great hardships and still be happy, so it’s not impossible. It’s a matter of conditioning yourself to remain calm in every circumstance.
As you do all the things mentioned in this guide, you will become considerably happier too.
Here are some other areas to poke and prod in the domain of emotional well-being:
Do you frequently find yourself thinking about the past? Process unhelpful memories and change them if necessary (the process for transforming memories is documented in Frederick E. Dodson’s Parallel Universes of Self). We don’t remember most things the way they happened, so it can’t hurt to make up something new.
See a counselor or psychologist. Talk to a friend. Unload emotional baggage and air skeletons in the closet.
Limit your exposure to people who always complain, gossip, or talk negatively. You don’t need to cut them out. But give them less time than you have been and try to bring the conversations around to something positive when you do talk to them.
In extreme situations, a change of environment may be necessary (toxic roommates, bad landlords, horrible bosses, sewage leaks in your bedroom, etc.). Don’t rule out moving or traveling for a while.
Incompletes clutter up the mind. That’s why one of the biggest focuses in my life for the next year is going to be finishing projects.
I have numerous books, sales funnels, musical projects, blog posts, podcast episodes, and videos waiting to be completed, and this is where I will be putting most of my attention.
Whenever I find myself dreaming up a new project idea, my new habit is going to be turning to my “to finish” list and picking something from there to work on.
How else can you optimize your work? Try the following:
Finish projects, either by doing the work necessary to complete them or by declaring them complete and moving on. If it helps to tear up a manuscript, burn a book, or delete from your hard drive a website design you no longer plan to work on, do it.
Plan how you will be spending your time each week (timebox your calendar), and don’t worry when things don’t go perfectly. Planning is essential, but plans are worthless.
If you feel like you’ve got a lot of things to do, write everything down on a whiteboard so you can physically see what there is to do and how you might go about prioritizing it.
Always deliver on time. And if you can’t, or you’re not going to, communicate with your superiors, clients, or collaborators the moment you know you’re not going to be doing what you said you were going to be doing.
Be prompt in your response. Triage quickly whether you plan to respond to calls, texts, voicemails, and emails. Open every email knowing you will delete or archive it after it has been processed.
Declutter your computer’s desktop, Downloads folder, recycle bin, etc. Remove programs you don’t use, create backups, scan your machine for viruses and malware, defragment your hard drive, etc. If your machine is especially slow, do a factory reset, bring it to a technician, or both.
Don’t you find that “subscription bloat” can easily get out of hand?
Whenever I feel like reallocating my spending, I will make a list of expenses and identify the subscriptions that I can safely eliminate now (if I need it later, I can always resubscribe).
Consider streaming services, magazines, storage lockers, social media automation tools, membership dues, and so forth. There’s no sense in holding onto something you aren’t using now, and cutting expenses will free up a lot of energy.
Sure, there are probably some subscriptions you want to keep. But if you want to declutter your mind, less is more.
You can use these prompts to help simplify your financial life:
Are your mortgage payments costing you an arm and a leg? Consider downgrading your lifestyle. Don’t worry – it will be temporary.
Are your car payments costing a pretty penny? Sell your car and get a 10-year-old beater instead.
Are you paying yourself first by locking away 10% of your income (somewhere you can’t easily touch) each month? Automate contributions to an investment account of your choice and never think about it again (I’m not a financial advisor but I think lifecycle funds are the ideal low-maintenance solution for most).
Automate as much of your banking as you possibly can, including bill payments.
Make more money. It gives you more freedom and more options. It also makes it possible for you to help more people.
I’m a big believer in self-education but being addicted to personal development can have its costs. For example, you could go into debt buying every book, course, seminar, and pump-up session delivered halfway across the world.
And there is almost certainly a mental cost to investing in so many programs without ever finishing any of them. Remember what I said about incompletes? They clutter up the mind.
Here are some things you should be thinking about as you look to optimize your self-education:
How many books are you reading right now? If your answer isn’t “one,” your mind space is being taken up by the books you haven’t finished reading yet. Read one book at a time and don’t rush through it. Instead, believe that whatever you need to learn is in the sentence or book you’re reading right now (the answer you need is in the book you read).
How many courses have you purchased that you haven’t completed or haven’t even touched? Decide now whether to finish them or leave them to simmer as shelfware. It’s okay to have a “later/someday” file.
Choose an area to focus on. Trying to learn everything will make you a Jack or Jill of all trades. Learning specific things will make you a specialist, and specialists are highly valued.
Learn from one coach at a time.
Listen to Gary Keller’s The One Thingon repeat in your car for the next year and apply what you learn.
Place less emphasis on acquiring knowledge and more emphasis on application. If you just came from an amazing industry conference, spend the next few weeks actioning what you learned and set aside anything that could distract you from applying the new tactics, techniques, and technologies you discovered.
Declutter Your Mind, Final Thoughts
Are there other categories to explore in decluttering your mind? Depending on your goals, profession, specific life circumstances, and so on, there almost certainly will be.
But if you keep in mind that incompletes are responsible for sapping your mental power and energy, and effort to tie up loose ends, you’ll be well on your way to decluttering your mind and cultivating super focus.
Also, know that decluttering your mind probably won’t be a “one-and-done” process, so be prepared to free up your energies again, from time to time.
The Leading Musician Coach
Hey! I’m author, entrepreneur, and musician David Andrew Wiebe. Learn more >