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Overcoming Mental App Overload

“That’s exactly it!” exclaimed my executive coaching client. “I have too many apps running in my mind and they are going all the time. No wonder I feel constantly tapped out.” I was reminded of a recent experience where my smartphone battery was draining inordinately fast. The support desk answer should not have surprised me – shut down some apps and tell others to stop trolling for updates.

Aren’t our minds doing the same thing? We try to balance so many important things, staying current on the latest updates on news and social media, trying to be everything to everyone, always “on”. It’s no wonder our physiological batteries are draining at such a rapid rate AND that they don’t seem to hold the charge that they once did. How can we reverse this trend? How can we get back to having a full charge and knowing how and when to keep it full? It requires focus and intention.

Try these five ways to retain the charge:

Identify and shut down mental malware

My daughter recently had her computer overtaken by malware. It restricted her access to information, diverting only to sites that she didn’t want to go to. The same happens to us when we allow it to. We replay events from the past that don’t get us anywhere. We allow thoughts of resentment and lack of forgiveness to persist. These thoughts not only hold space and drain the battery, but do so at an accelerated rate.   It’s time to let these things go….once and for all. If we let them go and they keep coming back, we likely need to take action to reconcile, engage in dialogue, or take an alternative active step to “put them to bed” to clean our mind’s hard drive, allowing space for those mental apps that propel us forward.

Focus on what leads you to the best you

It is said that “what you focus on expands for you”. My experience leads me to believe this is true. If we buy a new black sports car, we suddenly notice all the other apparently new black sports cars that were there all the time. When I let my mental apps power up on topics that lead to frustration, avoidance, blame, victim mentality, anger, worry, and fear, I drain the battery.   Why choose to focus on these things instead of those that give and promote energy, life, health, power, opportunity, and success? It’s always been a choice – yes, we can choose which apps we are running.   When our batteries are low, we just doubt that we have the choice.

Turn it off

My clients tell me that they simply are not allowed to “turn it off” in the evenings, weekends and vacations. By “it”, they mean their work and connectivity to it. When our batteries are full, we don’t come to that conclusion. We realize that we ALWAYS have a choice about anything in life including the power that work has over our lives. The same applies to our non-work mental apps. Resiliency is needed for the long haul. Turning our mental apps off for pause, reflection, and rest is not only healthy and allows the batteries to charge, but we are substantially more effective when we are back “on”.

Be realistic

I see this in my clients as I see it in myself. Our fascination with superheroes leads us to believe that we have superpowers to balance more and more in life. The latest new techniques and approaches and “powering through” tease us to believe that we can keep all those mental apps open, serving them as if they were the only app open. It’s simply not true. Studies in multi-tasking reveal that we are less productive when we do it. A realistic approach is to shut down the apps and focus on the vital few that serve us and others.

Identify your power apps

We know that certain activities/apps refuel us faster than others, just like those that quickly drain us. Be mindful of your mental apps that are especially powerful. Let those that serve you do so in the most powerful ways – gratitude, best intentions for others, mindfulness, nonjudgment, and passion can all be power mental apps to recharge us. “No thought can exist in my mind without my consent” is part of my daily self-talk. It defuses and shuts down the negative apps and mental malware that rapidly drain my battery.

Just as you can adjust your handheld settings to reduce battery drainage from your apps while shutting down apps running in the background, you can do the same thing with your mind. Which mental apps would you benefit from shutting down, so you can maximize your productivity and potential?

Evan Roth is a Certified Executive Coach and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner. He enjoys helping people thrive in the corporate world.

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