If you’re feeling zoom meeting fatigue, you’re not alone.
As a career confidence coach, who works 100% remotely: my goal is to unlock the potential, productivity and performance in every leader and corporate goal-getter that sits across from me – even if it’s on a laptop screen instead of in an office, these days.
Here are a few of my favorite productivity and mindfulness ‘hacks’ to help you start the new year strong – stronger than your double-espresso cup of coffee, on the first Monday back after the holidays, kind of strong – and refreshed without having to attend a meditation retreat, unless you know – that’s your thing! So here are a few of my favorite time-tested productivity tips and tricks that are also ‘corporate’ approved:
Pro Tip #1: First, set an intention for the day
Get really specific and granular. And if you can only commit to 1 thing – what’s the 1 thing that must get done? Or this could be how you want to show up, what you hope to accomplish, an outcome you hope to achieve or even one word like: calm, peace, focused. Get creative. Allow whatever comes to you to come and trust what emerges. I sometimes set an intention after meditation or journaling. Or it might come to me when I’m making my tea. I allow what emerges, to emerge and trust it. For example, recently my goal on a group coaching call was to create a feeling of “connection and trust” on the call. So that was my specific intention for that specific group call, however, you can make an intention for the day, too! Or create an intention for a big meeting so it can center you on what you hope to accomplish in that key meeting.
Even if it’s a remote meeting – you can still make it intentional.
By being intentional with your day, setting your main focus and then creating a plan to make it happen – you’ll notice a shift in how your days, weeks, and months unfold.
And here’s my pro tip for intention setting and making it stick: at the end of each day, look at what you accomplished and feel free to set a new intention for tomorrow. Try this for at least 30 days and see how good it feels to have a focus not on just what you do, but also how you do it.
Okay, so once you set your intention and focus for the day – now it’s time to get to it!
Pro tip #2: Identify you top priorities that must happen
Now is not the time for perfectionism, keeping a mile-long list, and being a hero. Please give yourself compassion and focus only on the top two to three things that need to happen.
And it also may be just one thing.
What’s your one goal for today?
Write it down in your journal, sticky note, planner, put in your Google calendar, Asana, Trello board – whatever system works for you.
Keep it simple. Make it actionable and time-bound. Let’s say I need to work on marketing materials for a sales page. I’m going to break it down and get more specific – let’s say it’s really a sales page copy project. I’m going to brain-dump initially into my productivity tool of choice (varies based on the task) and then rewrite the goal so it’s much more actionable, specific and time-bound. So:
- Marketing Materials becomes —> Create 1st draft of my sales page copy from 2-3:15pm.
- Then, I make sure to add the actual task, goal, project, meeting, etc. with a specific time block into my calendar – so it’s non-negotiable and then I get to it!
Pro Tip #3: Set a time boundary
Consider using the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer. Focus on that one task for a set period of time. Once the timer goes off, that’s it. Come back to it later or tomorrow. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in 10-15 minute chunks. This is how I read over 30 books (or more!) in one year for a graduate-level program, but also how many leaders I coach are able to get incredible results for themselves. Short bursts of activity can add up to big results.
Pro Tip #4: Take something off your list
This sounds counter-intuitive and the opposite of being a productive ninja! But being “busy” is not the same as being productive.
And now is not the time to play superhero in your career. And no one can save you from burnout, except you.
Look at your ongoing list of to-do’s for work and life and when it comes to your daily to-do’s – I highly recommend prioritizing your top three things. That’s it. If you can hit those 3 things and do them REALLY WELL – that’s the goal. I’d rather see really great work from 3 things, than 50 half-baked projects and a shell of a human slogging through their inbox working 15+ hour days.
Let it be easy.
So, focus on 3 things each day. And ask yourself: Can it be handled now? Is it important? Is it easy? Okay, great – do it. If not, focus on your top three things. From there, what can be delegated or moved to tomorrow? Does it need to happen now, this week, or later?
And when it comes to honing in on your priorities: look at what’s essential and essential. Where can you take something off your list? Where can your strengths be best utilized at work and at home? Where can you say “no” and focus on what matters most?
Keep prioritizing and looking for where you can create more space in your daily and weekly schedule.
And see where and what you can LET GO. I’m not saying to drop the ball at work or not do your job or critical task for your manager. I’m inviting you to give your list and schedule an honest assessment.
Letting go of the non-essentials is a skill that literally every leader has shared is the #1 skill they *WISH* they would have learned earlier in their career.
Learning to delegate, learning to play to your strengths more, asking for help, asking for a resource, or simply no longer engaging in something that doesn’t move the needle on something bigger that matters to you.
Is this easy? No. Is it worth it in the long-run for your productivity (and sanity?!) – yes.
Pro Tip # 5: Take it in chunks
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed right now. So what to do when you feel anxiety creeping in? Easy tiger. Deep breaths. Take things in bite-sized chunks.
Ask yourself: What can I do? What’s one little thing that would be helpful right now? Do I need to make a list? Do I need to take a quick break? Call or text a loved one? Do I need to buckle down and focus? Do I need a little support or help? It’s okay to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need (people are not mind readers!).
Do what you can, with what you have, where you’re at, but also know that it’s okay to ask for help or someone to talk to. And when you feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath and focus on: One. Thing. At. A. Time.
Pro Tip #6: Practice Intentional Focus
It’s easy to get caught up in the long days. As they say, the days are long, but the years are short. Notice what’s coming up for you and stay mindful of the one task at hand. Washing dishes, folding laundry, cleaning, cooking – whatever it is.
Are you drifting off? Or are you completely the task with a single-pointed focus (we call this drishti in yoga) and what kind of energy are you bringing to the task at hand?
When it comes to doing the work we love and that we love to do – how can we let it be easier? How can we be a bit lighter as we do it? How can we let ourselves have a bit more fun? And what kind of energy do we want to bring to it? Really pause and soak that question in. It goes back to the beautiful Maya Angelou quote – “people may forget when you said, what you did, but I’ve learned they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”
So how do you want people to feel when they’re in your team staff meeting? Or how do you want your customers to feel when they work with you? How do you want your kids to remember you?
What does your energy look and feel like?
And what do you want your energy to look and feel like?
Maybe a bit more love? Compassion? Gratitude? Perspective? Thoughtful? Focused?
What’s a shift you can make to make it more mindful, aligned to who you are and intentional?
When it comes to tasks researchers have found its best to focus on ONE THING at a time. It can take up to twenty minutes to recover from one distraction, so it’s best to take a mindful approach to work with a single-pointed focus for the task at hand.
So focus on one task at a time, that must get done, and notice the energy you’re bringing toward it.
Pro tip # 7: Acceptance is a super-power
Acceptance is a yoga practice that I often re-return to off the yoga mat with myself and clients when I’m feeling “off” or needing to reset.
The best way to get realigned, is to first, notice how we might be trying to “control” things that we ultimately can’t control.
I was recently in a meeting with peers and noticed the collective frustration over the lack of agency we all have with the current pandemic. We all were ready for it to be “over.” And yet, we understood there are places in our lives where we have greater control and influence over and some things – like the pandemic – that aren’t in our ultimate control.
So then it becomes – noticing – where can I focus and make the next best choice for me, my family and what’s in my control? And conversely, what’s out of my control? From there – it becomes a bit easier to accept. Side-bar: I’m not saying that I’m happy, naive, or want to be in a pandemic [insert any hardship here], but acceptance is the first step in acknowledging it and then moving forward with conscious choice of my next available steps in my life.
So, acceptance in life can be a superpower
When you accept – “what is” – then you can work with whatever it is and then move into an intentional and conscious choice.
Acceptance sounds simple, but it’s not common practice
I encourage you to try an ‘acceptance meditation’ and/or journaling around difficult situations that you’re struggling with. To get started: start by noticing when you feel frustrated or (insert emotion/struggle/life situation here) – take a few deep inhales and exhales. And maybe create a mini mantra to support you. I sometimes use mantras like:
“I allow and accept this in my life. I choose to see it differently now.” Or “I allow it to be easy now.” Or “I accept [x] and allow myself to make the next best choice now.”
If you’re into mantra meditation – you can repeat these mantras and set a meditation timer or use them to close out your meditation or yoga practice after a long day. Or even repeat these mantras (feel free to tweak them and make them your own) and weave your mantra of choice into your workday after a long meeting or challenge. Pro tip: try a mantra out and see if you can find a bit more ease in your being.
This doesn’t mean I want you to sugarcoat life and pretend everything is fine.
This is more about accepting that life, at times, can be tricky and then making a conscious choice on what you choose to do next that’s in alignment with your goals, values, principles or the task at hand.
By focusing on what you can control – you can move forward with more ease, joy, perspective and gratitude.
Once you notice what you can control and accept the current reality, you might notice a bit more peace in your day by focusing on what you can influence (vs. what you can’t).
Pro Tip #8: Take mini breaks like an athlete
You wouldn’t exercise for three hours without a break, so why would you do that to your brain on a laptop working remotely?
Step away from your laptop and take a refreshing break with a few deep breathing cycles. Walking, standing or simply stepping outside for a few minutes to get some fresh air – just breathe.
Our brains are shown to take a natural dip in focus after 90 minutes of work, so do yourself (and your brain!) a favor and take a brisk five-minute walk. Text a friend or loved one. Listen to a favorite song. Zone out. Hop on Instagram or ESPN app to get a quick decompressing fix. Doodle. Draw. Meditate for five minutes. Set a timer and do three minutes of sit-ups or jumping jacks to get your blood pumping and oxygen back to your brain.
Roll-out your yoga mat and stretch it out for five minutes. Consider taking a 20 to 30-minute power nap in the afternoon when you need it. By taking a break, you’ll come back refreshed and even more focused and ready to get back at it.
Here’s to you strutting (and thriving) into the new year in style and with productivity hacks that are mindful, aligned and intentional.
Abby Norman is a millennial leadership strategist and certified career mindset coach. Abby is a Certified Hudson Institute Coach. With nearly 15 years in Corporate HR and trained in leadership, NLP, EFT tapping, yoga and mind hacking, she helps high achieving professionals go from burned-out to aligned and thriving in their careers. She’s worked with major leading organizations and helped leaders go from overwhelm and burn-out to creating a career and life that is authentically aligned from the inside-out. Work with Abby and learn more at: abbyleadershipcoaching.com
This article was originally featured here.