I remember my first computer like it was yesterday. It was a Christmas morning gift – a bulky Christmas gift at that. I remember how that big, beautiful, and extremely heavy monitor whirred like an airplane engine as it powered on. I remember how a black screen would suddenly come to life with strange combinations of letters, numbers, dashes, and semi-colons flashing before my eyes. And, I remember dreaming about all of the games I could load onto it. SimCity and X-Wing were two of my favorites. They were also two of the largest game files for any computer at that time to handle. Which meant, after a few weeks of loading new games and programs on the machine, my brand new computer turned into my slow, screen-freezing computer.
After complaining about it to my dad, he said we needed to “defrag” my computer. I nodded my head as if I knew what this word meant. I still do this today anytime someone mentions something overly technical about my car, house, or computer. I later came to learn that “defrag” was short for defragmentation: a utility on many Windows computers that increased speeds by rearranging files stored on a disk.
Microsoft did a genius thing when it designed the defrag process for Windows. It visualized the disk defragmentation on the screen. Maybe you remember this – there would be lines and lines of colored squares (newer versions turned them into lines) that would be rearranged as the utility was working. I have no idea (and highly doubt) if it corresponded in any way to what was actually going on, but it felt like the computer was being super productive. It showed how the disk was moving around files for maximum productivity, arranging like files with each other to minimize the time for the computer to read and write them. And, each time, the computer would indeed work faster, allowing me to get back to fighting a natural disaster wreaking havoc on Ericville in SimCity.
Do you Need to Defrag?
I’ve often felt like my mind could really use a defragmenting tool. I tend to feel scattered throughout the day. It’s not hard to see why. I wear multiple hats with my job, my phone constantly buzzes new reminders, I’m juggling a two-year-old and a two-month-old at home, and I’m trying to be the best at everything I do. My head is spinning by the end of each day, and then it just starts back up again the next day.
Do you feel the same way too? How cool would it be if we all could click a button in our mind that would start to rearrange all of the different pieces of data and information we’ve received into helpful categories?
When You Can’t Click a Button
While it’s not possible to click a button, defragging our minds is not as complicated as we often make it. In fact, there are lots of common ways to process life well. Consider just a few of these great options:
- Sleep: Have you ever had trouble figuring out a solution, memorizing for a test, or handling a task, and then, after sleeping on it, had immense clarity the next day? Sleep is incredibly beneficial to us, including our brains.
- Exercise: Did you know that exercise actually helps fight against cognitive decline in our brains? And, research shows a short walk or jog actually enhances productivity, energy during the day, and clarity of thought.
- Shower, Bath, Spa: Why is it all the great ideas come in the shower? At least that’s the case for me. Could it be that a relaxed and uninterrupted environment helps our brain defrag just a bit more?
- Coffee on the Porch: Sunrises for morning people and sunsets for non-morning people are particularly rejuvenating for the soul.
Now, we have all done these activities and experienced relief and refreshment; however, we’ve also done these activities and still felt as scattered as ever – where no defragging occurred. What gives?
How to Boost Your Defrag
It’s not enough to have your list of activities that help you sort through the clutter. It takes some work. Here are a few best practices to ensure effective defragging.
Close other programs
Whenever a computer defrags, you are instructed to close down all other programs. It’s the only way the disk can reorganize itself. The same is true for us. Often times when someone is working out, having coffee outside, taking a bath, or even sleeping, they are being stimulated by multiple forms of media at the same time. The TV is on, the iPhone is blasting music, and we’re trying to read something, all at the same time. This multitasking makes defragging a lot harder. So, when you do a defrag, shut down as many other programs as you can.
Make it regular (and short)
It doesn’t take long for an organized disk to become disorganized and slow once again. It’s what happens when new data is constantly being processed. Defragging should be done at regular intervals. I would argue a daily mind defrag is ideal. And, it’s easier than you might think. Fifteen minutes of uninterrupted walking, relaxed showering, or coffee drinking can do wonders – if we make it a regular habit. If it’s not regular, you might find that fifteen minutes doesn’t really cut it because you have so much swimming around in your head. So, make it regular and schedule it. Put your daily defrag in your calendar.
Your brain will thank you.