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Do you ever find yourself feeling sluggish, losing focus or wishing you had more motivation at work? Maybe you’re a little overwhelmed with your to-do list, or you feel as though you’re always taking one step forward and two steps back?
It’s entirely because of these daily struggles that I created a list of 5 easy habits that will increase your productivity at work and also leave you feeling more empowered, mindful, and accomplished.
Habit #1: Blocking Time
We consume about five times more information every day than we did thirty years ago, and so it’s no surprise that we feel as though our work, relationships, and technology compete for our time and attention. But research shows that multitasking, especially when we’re focusing on more than one complex task at a time, takes a toll on our overall productivity.
When we block time on our calendars to do something important, whether that’s working on a project, attend an appointment or taking a walk around the block, we’re setting an intention. And we’re forcing ourselves to focus on that one thing for the entire block of time.
The key to making this habit work is adherence – it’s essential for us to reserve the time, but equally so to follow through. This practice generates trust in ourselves and holds us accountable for what we schedule in. We’re much more likely to complete the tasks we assign yourself when we make it a habit and write it down.
Habit #2: Not-To-Do List
A “Not-To-Do” List is a list of things we’re not going to complete, nor feel guilty about it. According to a Harvard Business Review article on productivity, it’s about “not just focusing on the items that are most important and deferring those that are less important until ‘later,’ but actively ignoring the vast number of items whose importance falls below a certain threshold.”
There’s only so much we can do it one day, and knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. By making a list of everything that’s either not important, or tasks that can be delegated, we can make the most out of the time and skills we do have. Remember, just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we have to or even should.
Habit #3: Mindful Minute
Each morning, we can take the time to have a mindful moment and reflect on what’s essential, as well as what we need to accomplish during our day. It’s important that we give ourselves the mental and emotional space to answer those questions. Once we’ve written down everything we need to achieve, we can select one of these important items to start off our day and dedicate a focused chunk of time to it.
Because we’re a culture preoccupied with e-mail, calendars, post-it-notes and to-do lists (which for many have become an obsession), we suffer from saturated and scattered brains. All of these worries tend to keep us away from intuitive and creative thinking. We know what is important for us – we don’t need to look it up in an app. By giving ourselves the time to reflect mindfully, we’re more apt to stay focused on our priorities and less likely to get lost amidst the sea of distractions.
Take a mindful minute every day to reflect on what’s important to you.
Habit #4: 15-Minute Day Method
The 15-Minute Day Method (PDM) is about working in 15-minute increments and stopping ourselves at the end of each chunk of time to take a breath, acknowledge our effort, and check-in before we continue. This method helps us tackle our information overload and gain focus in our busy lives by merely taking each day 15 minutes at a time.
Equipped with just a journal and a timer, the PDM lets us achieve mindfulness at work while enhancing our productivity and overall efficiency. It’s an innovative approach that not only allows us to be mindful of how we’re feeling but also ensures we remain acutely aware of what we’re working on and what’s left on our to-do list.
Habit #5: Let It Be
The fifth and final habit I’d like to encourage you to implement in your workday is to “let it be.” Upon experiencing an unpleasant feeling, there’s an alternative approach to resisting or running away. Instead, we can choose to let it be, start getting curious about what we’re feeling and explore what we might learn from it.
Unpleasant feelings, whether as a result of a stressful task or an awkward conversation with someone else, can quickly create a chain reaction. This is partly induced by our irrational belief that we “shouldn’t feel this way”, or that we must always feel happy to lead a happy life.
The most empowering approach to uncomfortable feelings is to acknowledge that we cannot control them, but we don’t have to allow them to control us, either. “In contrast, when you accept yourself as an imperfect but eminently lovable human being, and you stop fighting your emotions so strenuously, your fear will often lose its grip over you,” says Dr. David Burns, author of The Feeling Good Handbook.
Will you implement these 5 empowering habits into your workday? Which one will you try first?