How to clear your mind and be present instantly

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How to clear your mind and be present instantly

Ever wish you could hit the reset button on your brain the way you do when you reboot your computer? Marissa Vicario, a New York-based certified health and wellness coach, says it’s not only possible; it should be a regular part of your day.

“As an entrepreneur, it’s important to take care of yourself,” she says. “If you aren’t at your best, the people you serve and the people who work for you can’t be at their best either.”

Vicario suggests building specific moments into your day to step away and clear your mind. Here are five quick things you can do to refresh your focus:

1. Take a walk outside.
When you sit still, your body systems are at rest, says Vicario. Moving your body helps wake up your mitochondria, the part of your cells that generate energy. She says taking a brisk walk several times per week can make your mitochondria double in size, which helps the body produce more energy. The combination of fresh air and exercise also stimulates blood flow to the brain so you can re-gain clarity and focus.

“If you’re stuck on a problem or are having difficulty thinking creatively, getting up and walking around can give you a completely different perspective,” says Vicario. And if you can’t get outside for a walk, do a lap or two around the office or even stretch at your desk. Just moving your body helps.

2. Drink a glass of water.
Most Americans are chronically dehydrated, says Vicario, and studies show dehydration can slow down brain function.

“If you find you’re lacking focus, taking a break for a glass of water can perk you up just like watering a plant,” she says.

Vicario suggests drinking in ounces half your body weight each day. For example, a 120-pound woman should have 60 ounces of water a day, or about eight 8-ounce glasses. If the taste bores you, add mint leaves or slices of lemon, orange, lime or cucumbers.

3. Breathe in or diffuse lemon essential oil.
Keep a small bottle of lemon essential oil at your desk, suggests Vicario, and inhale it from the bottle or add a drop to a cotton ball. This will naturally refocus your mind.

“Citrus or spicy scents stimulate the nervous system and reenergize you,” says Vicario. Eucalyptus and rosemary can also have a similar effect.

4. Eat something healthy.
A healthy snack can stabilize blood sugar, stave off hunger pangs and assist with healthy brain function. Vicario suggests keeping trail mix, nuts, seeds and dried fruit in your desk. Other healthy snacks include a piece of whole grain toast with avocado, celery sticks and nut butter.

“The snack should have protein and carbohydrates, which will help balance your blood sugar,” she says. Foods that are high in sugar will cause a quick spike and drop in your blood sugar. This will create a cycle of feeling energized and then tired, which is draining over the course of the day.

5. Take a nap.
When you’re your own boss, a quick nap is something you can schedule into your day. A 20-minute nap provides significant benefits for improved alertness and performance, according to the National Sleep Foundation. While research shows that it can refresh the mind and boost creativity, you shouldn’t let yourself snooze longer.

“If you sleep longer than 20 minutes, you’ll wake up groggy,” says Vicario. “If you are constantly needing a nap, though, it’s time to get more sleep at night.”

7 Aug 2018 37.09k Views

Sometimes, our heads can feel like they’re full of cotton wool. But there are a few ways to clear it out at work.

Brain fog or mental fog can happen to the best of us. It’s those days when you feel like your head is nothing but fuzz and you can’t focus on anything in front of you. Sometimes you can’t even procrastinate successfully.

You’re just trundling through your day without being able to do much of anything and you can’t even think clearly.

Because brain fog is caused by an array of things such as lack of sleep, poor diet or overworking, a lot of the solutions are often things that you need to fix in the long-term.

Of course, it’s incredibly important to take steps towards a better diet, a healthier sleeping pattern and perhaps a digital detox. However, for those of you sitting in work right now suffering from brain fog, these things aren’t helpful for this very moment.

So what kind of instant corrections can you make during your day that will help rid your mind of brain fog? We’ve got a few tips.

Clear the clutter

Cleaning up your desk is often a procrastination tool, but sometimes a little bit of directed procrastination can do your brain the world of good.

If you’re struggling to focus on your work, give yourself a break to tidy up the clutter around your desk.

The same goes for your desktop and maybe your emails. If every time you open something and it feels cluttered, give it a clear out and see if that clears some of the brain fog too.

Go for a walk

This is one of our favourite go-to tips for anything related to stress, feeling overwhelmed, unable to focus or just can’t think creatively.

If you take five or 10 minutes to walk away from your desk and get out in the fresh air, you will be amazed how much that can help clear your mind.

Sip water constantly

One of the causes of brain fog can be dehydration, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

Hiring Now

Think for impact with Liberty IT. Delivering global software solutions

Your next move could mean our next breakthrough

Excellence in research for innovation and analytics

Improve business performance through data and insights

Even if you’re not particularly dehydrated but instead you’re suffering from low energy or lack of sleep, a glass of cold water can wake up your brain and keep you alert in the moment.

Be sure to keep hydrated when you leave work too and get a good night’s sleep later.

Get a fruity snack

Snacks can also be a good source of energy, provided they’re the right ones. If your mind is particularly fuzzy, a sweet treat might seem like a good burst of energy but it will only bring you crashing down later on.

Get your sugary energy boost from a piece of fruit or, if you’re really craving something sweeter, dark chocolate might be the answer.

It contains the stimulant you need to focus with a minor amount of caffeine and sugar, but also has a lot of phytonutrients that can help your body be healthy and strong.

Brainstorm with someone

If you’re struggling to think things through properly, bouncing ideas off of someone else can be a good way to clear the cobwebs from your mind and get your thoughts flowing.

It’s a good idea to do this face-to-face with someone as it’s more effective than email and will get you into a better workflow than sitting at a computer trying to think of ideas.

Not to mention that physically getting up and walking over to someone else’s desk to talk to them will also help clear that pesky brain fog.

Change your workspace

This is another one of our favourites when it comes to helping to clear a fuzzy head and staying focused. We’ve talked about this before but, in short, there are a few simple changes you can do to refocus your mind.

If possible, change your physical scenery. Take your laptop off to work somewhere away from your usual desk. Stick on your headphones and add some ambient noise or background music that might help you focus.

You might also choose somewhere with different lighting depending on what might help clear your mental fuzziness.

Clearing brain fog can be slightly different for everyone, so figure out what works best for you, and then look at addressing the bigger picture of getting more sleep, less stress and a healthy diet.

How to clear your mind and be present instantly

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

There’s a big lie we tell ourselves during stressful times.

It keeps us feeling lost, afraid, and unloved, like we’re being picked up and carried away helplessly by a storm.

Our heads can fill with scary images, words, and stories about the cause and who is to blame for our unwanted pain.

Sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone. You’re normal. This is how humans biologically respond to stress.

So what’s the big lie?

The big lie is that we have no control over our stress response. Actually, we do. A lot of control.

I’ve struggled the hard way through my fair share of troubling times. I’ve experienced money and job issues, battled with health, and been pushed in challenging relationships.

But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is I grew up a highly sensitive person, who would internally react to almost anything that could be interpreted as negative.

Of the feelings above, I hopelessly sat at the “feel all of them” end of the scale.

That was until a particularly trying relationship caused me so much stress and anxiety that I became sick of my unconscious reactions, and vowed to do everything possible to stop it (or make it easier).

Through research and a lot of experimenting I created a practical way to calm myself down instantly anywhere, anytime, when a meditation cushion or reassuring book was out of reach.

The technique was so simple and powerful that it pulled me through a harrowing experience in that relationship, and has held me together in plenty of experiences since.

It’s easy to remember, has an instant effect on your mind body, and most importantly, is simple enough to be remembered and used when you’re going through the eye of your own stress storms.

How to Calm Yourself In Two Minutes

Take a moment right now to make yourself comfortable and try these four steps yourself:

1. Freeze yourself.

Remember the game you played as a child when you suddenly stopped mid-motion, like you were frozen in ice? Do that now. Halt your body parts, emotions, and thought processes. Think of yourself as a cartoon character that’s been hit with a stun gun. You can even make it a little dramatic if it helps.

2. Focus on your index finger.

(Skip to this if you find the first step difficult). For twenty to sixty seconds, concentrate solely on the back of your index finger. Let your mind and body be consumed by it.

Bring it closer to you. Study the rivets, creases, and those tiny little fingerprint lines. If your situation is noisy, let the sounds around you merge into a single background buzz, and let it fade out of your attention.

3. Take a conscious breath.

Let go of your focus and check back in with your body. Take a deep, conscious breath in, then let it go through your mouth, slowly and calmly, creating a wave of relaxation that starts in your chest and floats out through your being to the surface of your skin.

4. Look around consciously.

As you re-integrate with your surroundings, scan the scene in front of you. Remain as indiscriminate as possible with what you focus on the way you would when waking up in the morning.

Take conscious note of the thoughts that are trying to push back into your head and observe them with an attitude of curiosity.

How do you feel?

You might now feel a little more in touch with your senses, distanced from previous thoughts, and connected with the present moment.

Most importantly, you’ll recognize that the root of your discomfort is your thoughts. Everything else, like emotions, and physical discomfort, and pain, start there.

If you’re having difficulty slowing down the mind at the beginning, try this: If you meditate regularly, spend the last minute of your session focused on the same finger, in the same way. Doing this will associate (or anchor) the feelings of clarity, relaxation, and attachment with the action.

And if you don’t meditate, it’s a great time to start! It will help with your ability to cope with stressful situations generally, and dramatically improve the effects of this technique.

Why This Technique Works

Stress is a mental or physical tension, and both manifest from your relationship to the procession of thoughts in your head.

Mindfulness allows you to step out of the procession and watch it go past, without being carried down the fast-flowing river.

When we get pulled down a heavy stream, our emotions and bodies react as if the danger or pain contained in the thought is real, immediate, and must be dealt with now. That’s why we feel discomfort even when someone reminds us of a stressful situation we were trying to forget.

Reconnecting with the present reminds us that here is the only time there really is.

Focusing on your hands is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that helps to ground the soul and provide stability in the physical body.

Try It for Yourself

The most important reason this technique works is it gives you something back—control.

We may not be able to choose what happens to us in our lives, but as Viktor Frankl says, we can always choose our response.

Give it a go next time you feel yourself panicking (and be sure to let us know how you go in the comments below).

How to clear your mind and be present instantly

About Jonathan Allen

Jonathan Allen is an Australian writer who loves turning big ideas into practical wisdom. You can read his blog at The Galilei, where he road-tests spiritual wisdom, makes fun of himself, and shares real techniques to help people live healthier, happier, and more connected lives.

This guided meditation script will help you clear your mind and relax allowing you to expand your feelings of peace and happiness.

Be Here Now Technique

1. Write down all the things that are cluttering your mind right now. Include chores to complete and, concerns and questions you have. As you write each item down, know that you are clearing your mind to be more fully present here and now. When your list is complete, put it down and:

2. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.

3. Count from 1 to 5, focusing your attention on your breath as you inhale a sense of calm and relaxation through your nose and exhale completely through your mouth.

4. At the count of 5, experience yourself as more relaxed and at ease, ready to expand your experience of confidence and well-being in the present moment.

5. 1 continuing to focus on your breath, inhaling a sense of calm and relaxation and exhaling completely.

6. 2 if you notice any tension or tightness in your body, breathe into that part of your body and as you exhale experience yourself as more relaxed, more at ease.

7. 3 if thoughts enter your mind, simply notice them, and as you exhale let them go, continuing to focus your attention on your breath, breathing in a deeper sense of calm and relaxation and exhaling completely.

8. 4 continuing to focus on our breath as you allow yourself to fully relax your mind and body, feeling a sense of confidence and renewal filling your being.

9. And 5 experiencing yourself as relaxed, alert and confident, fully supported by the seat beneath you. Allowing peace, happiness and confidence to full your being at this present moment as you now open yourself to deepening your experience of peace and happiness.

10. And now as you experience yourself as fully present in this moment, slowly and effortlessly allow your eyes to open, feeling wide awake, alert, better than before – fully present here and now.

This guided meditation script can be used anytime you feel the need to take a break and clear your mind.

A recording of this free guided meditation script will be available soon. Click the RSS feed to be instantly notified when the recording is posted.

Click here for recordings of other guided meditation scripts

7 Aug 2018 37.09k Views

Sometimes, our heads can feel like they’re full of cotton wool. But there are a few ways to clear it out at work.

Brain fog or mental fog can happen to the best of us. It’s those days when you feel like your head is nothing but fuzz and you can’t focus on anything in front of you. Sometimes you can’t even procrastinate successfully.

You’re just trundling through your day without being able to do much of anything and you can’t even think clearly.

Because brain fog is caused by an array of things such as lack of sleep, poor diet or overworking, a lot of the solutions are often things that you need to fix in the long-term.

Of course, it’s incredibly important to take steps towards a better diet, a healthier sleeping pattern and perhaps a digital detox. However, for those of you sitting in work right now suffering from brain fog, these things aren’t helpful for this very moment.

So what kind of instant corrections can you make during your day that will help rid your mind of brain fog? We’ve got a few tips.

Clear the clutter

Cleaning up your desk is often a procrastination tool, but sometimes a little bit of directed procrastination can do your brain the world of good.

If you’re struggling to focus on your work, give yourself a break to tidy up the clutter around your desk.

The same goes for your desktop and maybe your emails. If every time you open something and it feels cluttered, give it a clear out and see if that clears some of the brain fog too.

Go for a walk

This is one of our favourite go-to tips for anything related to stress, feeling overwhelmed, unable to focus or just can’t think creatively.

If you take five or 10 minutes to walk away from your desk and get out in the fresh air, you will be amazed how much that can help clear your mind.

Sip water constantly

One of the causes of brain fog can be dehydration, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

Hiring Now

Think for impact with Liberty IT. Delivering global software solutions

Your next move could mean our next breakthrough

Excellence in research for innovation and analytics

Improve business performance through data and insights

Even if you’re not particularly dehydrated but instead you’re suffering from low energy or lack of sleep, a glass of cold water can wake up your brain and keep you alert in the moment.

Be sure to keep hydrated when you leave work too and get a good night’s sleep later.

Get a fruity snack

Snacks can also be a good source of energy, provided they’re the right ones. If your mind is particularly fuzzy, a sweet treat might seem like a good burst of energy but it will only bring you crashing down later on.

Get your sugary energy boost from a piece of fruit or, if you’re really craving something sweeter, dark chocolate might be the answer.

It contains the stimulant you need to focus with a minor amount of caffeine and sugar, but also has a lot of phytonutrients that can help your body be healthy and strong.

Brainstorm with someone

If you’re struggling to think things through properly, bouncing ideas off of someone else can be a good way to clear the cobwebs from your mind and get your thoughts flowing.

It’s a good idea to do this face-to-face with someone as it’s more effective than email and will get you into a better workflow than sitting at a computer trying to think of ideas.

Not to mention that physically getting up and walking over to someone else’s desk to talk to them will also help clear that pesky brain fog.

Change your workspace

This is another one of our favourites when it comes to helping to clear a fuzzy head and staying focused. We’ve talked about this before but, in short, there are a few simple changes you can do to refocus your mind.

If possible, change your physical scenery. Take your laptop off to work somewhere away from your usual desk. Stick on your headphones and add some ambient noise or background music that might help you focus.

You might also choose somewhere with different lighting depending on what might help clear your mental fuzziness.

Clearing brain fog can be slightly different for everyone, so figure out what works best for you, and then look at addressing the bigger picture of getting more sleep, less stress and a healthy diet.

Powerful research-based approaches to stop racing thoughts and move forward.

THE BASICS

  • What Is Anxiety?
  • Find a therapist to overcome anxiety

How to clear your mind and be present instantly

Anxious thoughts can overwhelm you, making it difficult to make decisions and take action to deal with whatever issue bothers you. Anxiety can also lead to overthinking, which makes you more anxious, which leads to more overthinking, and so on. How can you get out of this vicious cycle? Repressing anxious thoughts won’t work; they will just pop up again, sometimes with more intensity. But there are more effective techniques you can borrow from mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive-behavioral therapies.

The following are 9 strategies to help you get unstuck and move forward:

1. Attempt Cognitive Distancing

Try to see your anxious thoughts as guesses, not as facts. Your mind is trying to protect you by predicting what could happen—but just because something could happen doesn’t mean it will. Look at objective evidence: How likely is it that the negative outcome will actually happen? Is there anything good that might happen instead? And which do you think is most likely to happen, based on past experience and other information you have about the situation?

2. Try Cognitive De-Fusion

Stop being fused with your thoughts. Think of your thoughts as moving data passing through your mind, rather than the objective truth about a situation. Our brains are hypersensitive to threat and danger because this kept our ancestors alive in the wild. Some of your thoughts may just be automatic conditioned reactions generated by a brain that is oriented to survival. Choose whether or not to believe these thoughts, rather than just accepting them.

3. Practice Mindfulness

Practice observing your thoughts, rather than reacting automatically to them. Think of your thoughts as clouds floating by. Which draw you in and which make you want to run away? Is there a way you can untangle yourself and just observe your thoughts, rather than reacting?

4. Focus on Direct Experience

Your mind makes up stories about who you are, and about your safety and lovability. Not all of these stories are accurate. Sometimes our minds are biased by negative past experiences. What is your experience in the present moment? Is this something that is actually happening or something that might happen? Notice that they are not the same thing, even though your mind may treat them as the same.

5. Label Things

Label the type of thought you are having, rather than paying attention to its content. Watch your thoughts and when you notice a judgment (e.g., how good or bad the situation is), go ahead and label it as Judging. If you notice a worry (e.g., that you are going to fail or experience a loss) label it as Worrying. If you are criticizing yourself, label it as Criticizing. This gets you away from the literal content of your thoughts and gives you more awareness of your mental processes. Do you want to be spending your time judging and worrying? Are there less judgmental or worried ways to see the situation?

6. Stay in the Present

Is your mind regurgitating the past? Just because something negative happened in the past doesn’t mean it has to happen today. Ask yourself if the circumstances, or your knowledge and coping abilities, have changed since the last time. As an adult, you have more choice about whom to associate with and more ability to identify, preempt, or leave a bad situation than when you were a child or teenager.

7. Broaden Your View

Are you focusing too narrowly on the threatening aspects of a situation, rather than seeing the whole picture? Anxiety makes our minds contract and focus on the immediate threat without considering the broader context. Is this situation really as important as your anxiety says it is? Will you still care about this problem in 5 or 10 years? If not, then ease up on the worry.

8. Get Up and Get Going

Worrying over an issue without creating a solution will not help you solve the problem. It may, in fact, make you less likely to act by feeding your anxiety. When your mind is stuck in a loop, you can interrupt it by getting up and moving around or doing a different task or activity. When you sit back down, you should have a different perspective.

9. Decide Whether a Thought Is Helpful

Just because a thought is true doesn’t mean that it is helpful to focus on—at least not all the time. If only 1 in 10 people will get the job you seek, and you keep thinking about those odds, you may become demotivated and not even bother applying. This is an example of a thought that is true but not helpful. Focus your attention on what is helpful and let the rest go!

LinkedIn Image Credit: Djomas/Shutterstock

How to clear your mind and be present instantly

Post Updated on September 14, 2020

If you’re an overthinker, worrier, or perfectionist, you probably love the idea of relaxation but hate that it doesn’t come naturally to you. Maybe the hardest part about self-care isn’t letting your body relax, but rather figuring out how to quiet your mind.

Ever since I was young, I’ve sought out ways to keep myself entertained. My mom used to say I couldn’t sit still for five minutes because I had to be doing something. Even now when I’m watching Netflix or going for a walk, I find myself tempted to scroll through my phone to keep my mind occupied.

How to clear your mind and be present instantly

Most of us seek out constant stimulation because we don’t want to feel bored, but that only makes it harder for us to relax. The need for stimulation means that your brain doesn’t know how to shut off, so it wanders from one thing to the other on random tangents.

Before you know it, you’re worrying about something that wasn’t even an issue five minutes ago. All of this leaves you feeling mentally burned out and exhausted.

So when your mind is busy, how do you make it shut up? I could tell you to take a bath or go for a walk, but we all know that won’t exactly stop your mind from chattering at you. Instead, here are ten things to try when you want to quiet your busy mind.

10 Ways to Quiet Your Mind

1. Exercise

Obviously there are physical benefits to exercise, but it can also do wonders for your mind. Getting out of your head and into your body is a helpful way to direct any scattered energy to a different place. Interval sprints or walks, weight-lifting, kickboxing, and dance all force you to focus in different ways. Though I love yoga and pilates, I do find the slower nature of them can cause me to start thinking about my to-do list again.

2. Meditate

You knew this one was coming, right? Meditation is so important for anyone who lives in their own head because it encourages you to sit still without reacting to your thoughts. Though meditation is difficult in the moment, your head will feel calmer after you’ve done it. Try a guided bodyscan meditation which will shift your focus to your body, rather than your thoughts.

3. Write a List

Write down every little thing that’s floating through your head. The to-dos, worries, calls to make, emails to respond to – write it all down so you can see it in front of you. Then use the Ivy Lee method and write down your six most important tasks in order of importance and work on each one until they’re all complete.

Read this post to learn how to declutter your mind with the brain dump method.

4. Make or Create Something

I find that making or creating something is an amazing way to quiet your mind. Though I love eating more than cooking, following a new recipe and trying to successfully make it can distract my mind and give it a break. There are times when I don’t want to spend a ton of time making a meal, but there are other times when it can come in handy when you need to focus on something else.

5. Declutter Your Space

Your physical environment can have a huge impact on your mental state. While it doesn’t affect some people, I’m someone who feels more stressed out when the space around me is messy. If you feel the same way, get rid of things you don’t need, organize those piles, and clean the parts of your home that you haven’t touched in who knows how long.

6. Share What’s on Your Mind

Nothing good comes from dwelling on your thoughts and keeping them locked up in your head. If you have something on your mind that you want to stop rehashing, get it out. Write it down in a journal, talk about it on Instagram stories for anyone who will listen, or talk out loud to yourself (we all do it, don’t pretend like you don’t ?).

7. Read a Fiction Book

When I read non-fiction books, my mind tends to go into overdrive with any new concepts I’m learning. Thoughts like, “How can I put what I’m learning to use?” or “I’ve been doing this all wrong and I need to makeover my life ASAP” can cause me to want to act right away, even though I already have a crazy to-do list. Fiction (especially those cheesy romance novels) allows your mind to escape from the real world for a little while.

8. Make an Action Plan

If you’re worried about how you’re going to get everything done in the next few weeks, make yourself a plan. Identify what needs to get done, how long it will take, and when you’re going to do it. Then set a start and finish date. Having a plan gives your mind a break from thinking about how you’re going to fit it all into your schedule.

9. Get Away From Your Phone

When your mind is restless, it’s easy to think that scrolling on the internet will provide an escape. There are definitely ways to make this happen if you’re intentionally following and staying on sites that make you feel calm, but most of the time the content we consume can lead to more overwhelm and overthinking. If you need to calm your mind down, take a break from your phone.

Want a healthier relationship with social media? Here are 5 tips to make it happen.

10. Force Yourself to Focus

Sometimes you need to focus, but your mind just won’t let you. When that happens, you have to force yourself to get into the zone. Here are some things to do when you need to focus:

  • Use the Pomodoro technique to focus on the task at hand for 25 minutes and then take a break
  • Put your phone on airplane mode or do not disturb mode
  • Snooze notifications or emails on your phone and computer
  • OneTab – this Chrome extension consolidates the millions of open tabs you have into one
  • Facebook News Feed Eradicator – this extension blocks the Facebook newsfeed so you only see notifications when you log in

How to clear your mind and be present instantly

According to the latest neuroscience, the human brain uses neurons in the left visual cortex to process written words as whole word units. The brain combines these words and their stored meanings to remember and understand information.

Analytical thinking is the process of remembering words and putting their meanings into context. This process is not simply accessing a mental dictionary. Every time you use words, you re-create their meaning.

The words you habitually use when you’re thinking (and then expressing those thoughts) mold how you see the world. For example, people who habitually think (and speak and write) the word “hate” tend to find an ever-increasing number of things to hate.

This relationship between word usage and perception is hugely important in business. When you train yourself to speak and write using clearly defined words arranged into concise sentences, you’re training your brain to think more clearly.

More important, when you write and speak more clearly, you increase your positive influence on your team. Due to their mirror neurons, they’ll begin to imitate your clarity in their own thought processes. Clarity is contagious.

Conversely, if you habitually use fuzzy, ill-defined words crammed into long and convoluted sentences, you’re training your brain–and the brains of your team members–to think less clearly. Confusion is also contagious.

With that in mind, here are three easy ways to hone your word skills:

1. Mentally edit out fuzzy buzzwords.

While most business buzzwords are simply annoying (like saying “utilize” rather than “use”), some are so fuzzy and vague that they automatically lead to confused thinking.

The worst offenders are: alignment, best of breed, client-centric, core competency, crystallize, customer-centric, diversity, empowerment, holistic, leading, leverage, generation, paradigm, robust, seamless, stakeholder, sustainability, and synergy.

Take the term synergy. In physics, synergy describes the creation of a whole that’s greater than the arithmetic sum of its parts. Classic example: combining flour, water, yeast and heat to create a loaf of bread.

In business, though, synergy generally pops up when disparate organizations are combined, as in a merger, acquisition, or corporate restructuring. In business, however, synergy is rare to the point of nonexistence.

“Even when you have a deal that looks lovely on paper,” says Wharton’s Emilie Feldman, “getting cultures to fit together, people to stay on board, merging I.T. systems and back offices: all these things are really hard.”

Rather than ask difficult questions and think things thoroughly through, decision makers unconsciously use the word synergy to make problematic deals seem more palatable, like slathering ketchup over rancid meatloaf.

Mentally editing out the fuzzy, vague buzzwords when you are talking, speaking, listening, or reading gradually clears your mind of the confusion they create, thereby making you smarter.

2. Simplify your business writing.

If you find yourself writing or reading long, complex sentences at work, edit and reedit them so that they express the gist in fewer words. Do this repeatedly and over time you’ll automatically accustom your brain to shorter, clearer wordings.

Here’s how this works. A subscriber to my free weekly newsletter recently sent me this fairly typical example of biz-blab:

Leveraging XYZ technology and compliance expertise can give your business an important competitive advantage. XYZ can help you manage the ‘people side’ of your businesses more effectively, avoiding compliance pitfalls and creating key benefits for the businesses and your employees, while simultaneously freeing up time for owners and executives to concentrate on growing their businesses by focusing on operations, strategy, and innovation.

While that paragraph is grammatically correct, it’s using a lot of words to waltz around a fairly simple concept. I’m sure that if you read it carefully, you know what they’re getting at, but it can be worded with much more economy, like so:

XYZ handles your personnel busywork so that you can spend more time growing your business.

Simplifying biz-blab to the fewest number of words doesn’t just make your writing crisper, it also habituates your mind to seek the simple essence of needlessly complex concepts. The more often you practice this clarification process, the smarter you get.

3. Play the “one syllable” game.

This exercise trains your brain to use smaller, easier-to-understand words rather than complex ones. The concept is simple: Try to communicate business ideas using words of only one syllable.

For example, if I were trying to communicate the rules of the game using those rules, I’d write: “The point of the game is to talk and write with words that are so short that they can not be split.”

While this kind of writing and speaking doesn’t result in anything you’d actually use in a business discussion, the mental effort of oversimplifying accustoms your brain to reach for the small words rather than the overly complex ones.

Since complex words tend to “complexify” your thoughts (and your expression of them), habitually using common words leads toward clearer thinking.

How to clear your mind and be present instantly

According to the latest neuroscience, the human brain uses neurons in the left visual cortex to process written words as whole word units. The brain combines these words and their stored meanings to remember and understand information.

Analytical thinking is the process of remembering words and putting their meanings into context. This process is not simply accessing a mental dictionary. Every time you use words, you re-create their meaning.

The words you habitually use when you’re thinking (and then expressing those thoughts) mold how you see the world. For example, people who habitually think (and speak and write) the word “hate” tend to find an ever-increasing number of things to hate.

This relationship between word usage and perception is hugely important in business. When you train yourself to speak and write using clearly defined words arranged into concise sentences, you’re training your brain to think more clearly.

More important, when you write and speak more clearly, you increase your positive influence on your team. Due to their mirror neurons, they’ll begin to imitate your clarity in their own thought processes. Clarity is contagious.

Conversely, if you habitually use fuzzy, ill-defined words crammed into long and convoluted sentences, you’re training your brain–and the brains of your team members–to think less clearly. Confusion is also contagious.

With that in mind, here are three easy ways to hone your word skills:

1. Mentally edit out fuzzy buzzwords.

While most business buzzwords are simply annoying (like saying “utilize” rather than “use”), some are so fuzzy and vague that they automatically lead to confused thinking.

The worst offenders are: alignment, best of breed, client-centric, core competency, crystallize, customer-centric, diversity, empowerment, holistic, leading, leverage, generation, paradigm, robust, seamless, stakeholder, sustainability, and synergy.

Take the term synergy. In physics, synergy describes the creation of a whole that’s greater than the arithmetic sum of its parts. Classic example: combining flour, water, yeast and heat to create a loaf of bread.

In business, though, synergy generally pops up when disparate organizations are combined, as in a merger, acquisition, or corporate restructuring. In business, however, synergy is rare to the point of nonexistence.

“Even when you have a deal that looks lovely on paper,” says Wharton’s Emilie Feldman, “getting cultures to fit together, people to stay on board, merging I.T. systems and back offices: all these things are really hard.”

Rather than ask difficult questions and think things thoroughly through, decision makers unconsciously use the word synergy to make problematic deals seem more palatable, like slathering ketchup over rancid meatloaf.

Mentally editing out the fuzzy, vague buzzwords when you are talking, speaking, listening, or reading gradually clears your mind of the confusion they create, thereby making you smarter.

2. Simplify your business writing.

If you find yourself writing or reading long, complex sentences at work, edit and reedit them so that they express the gist in fewer words. Do this repeatedly and over time you’ll automatically accustom your brain to shorter, clearer wordings.

Here’s how this works. A subscriber to my free weekly newsletter recently sent me this fairly typical example of biz-blab:

Leveraging XYZ technology and compliance expertise can give your business an important competitive advantage. XYZ can help you manage the ‘people side’ of your businesses more effectively, avoiding compliance pitfalls and creating key benefits for the businesses and your employees, while simultaneously freeing up time for owners and executives to concentrate on growing their businesses by focusing on operations, strategy, and innovation.

While that paragraph is grammatically correct, it’s using a lot of words to waltz around a fairly simple concept. I’m sure that if you read it carefully, you know what they’re getting at, but it can be worded with much more economy, like so:

XYZ handles your personnel busywork so that you can spend more time growing your business.

Simplifying biz-blab to the fewest number of words doesn’t just make your writing crisper, it also habituates your mind to seek the simple essence of needlessly complex concepts. The more often you practice this clarification process, the smarter you get.

3. Play the “one syllable” game.

This exercise trains your brain to use smaller, easier-to-understand words rather than complex ones. The concept is simple: Try to communicate business ideas using words of only one syllable.

For example, if I were trying to communicate the rules of the game using those rules, I’d write: “The point of the game is to talk and write with words that are so short that they can not be split.”

While this kind of writing and speaking doesn’t result in anything you’d actually use in a business discussion, the mental effort of oversimplifying accustoms your brain to reach for the small words rather than the overly complex ones.

Since complex words tend to “complexify” your thoughts (and your expression of them), habitually using common words leads toward clearer thinking.