Your Zen Workday: Feel More Productive and at Ease
In a work climate where “the hustle” is revered and “to make it” means to work yourself to the bone or to constantly be busy, I have found that, more often than not, this culture of busy-ness leads to disorganization, apathy, low energy, and feeling overwhelmed. Work doesn’t have to be painful, and work doesn’t have to hurt. It can still be challenging, rewarding, and inspiring without running us crazy.
I hope that this blog post and its suggested daily productivity practices and tips help you feel supported, encouraged, and inspired to work smarter and more intentionally so that your workday is successful and not as stressful.
Make an Accomplishment List
We spend so much time focused on our to-do lists. How does that make us feel to see a list of things we "have to do"? How often do we make a list of accomplishments? How would that make us feel? When we focus our attention on what we feel like we should do, instead of what we have already done, we can become overwhelmed and disenchanted with our work.
I encourage you to approach your work from a place of success. How do we do that? Here’s an exercise to help you start to increase your awareness of your accomplishments, whether small or grand:
During your work day, spend a few seconds every couple of hours to jot down what you've accomplished. There’s no need to spend more than a few seconds doing this; make the note and then move on.
At the end of the workday, look through your accomplishment list and send up some feelings of gratitude and grace for yourself and for the work you are doing. Give yourself a high five!
The ability to cultivate awareness in your work is contingent on your commitment to acknowledging the value of what matters to you and aligning those values with what you want to accomplish. Celebrate those mini-yays and continue to move forward with your best work.
So, let me know in the comments below: What are you adding to your list of accomplishments today?
Get up and get out(side)
Again, in this fast-paced society, where "the hustle" is equivalent to "making it", we often forget how powerful a pause can be. Healthcare professionals recommend taking at least a two-minute break every 20-30 minutes.
I like to think of a pause as a shift in gears. It's like driving up a hill, it takes work, it takes effort, it takes a short pause and a shift in pace and gear to steadily get up that hill. The momentum is dependent on that shift in gears.
I encourage you to take a walk outside in the fresh air and shift your sight away from the screen to trees, gardens, and birds. You can also consider taking a stretch break, calling a friend, or enjoying a short nap. I always suggest that my clients take time away from their desk during lunchtime. Enjoy your meal away from your email, and you’ll notice a remarkable change in your stress levels.
Let me know in the comments below, what are you doing to pause today?
Practice Fast Feedback
One way to be more productive and efficient while working is to practice "fast feedback". Simply put, fast feedback is getting or giving a piece of information as quickly as possible. The tried-and-true office manager's adage of "never handle a piece of paper twice" rings true here.
Fast feedback is all about turning small things around right away (or at a designated later time) to ensure that extra energy isn't spent on thinking or worrying about handling it. You can quickly take care of something small and you'll ensure that it stays small.
To practice fast feedback:
- Try setting aside 30 minutes a day to do small tasks.
- Resolve to get as much done as possible within that time frame.
- Set a timer to make sure that you stop when your time is up.
What did you observe? How does this practice of fast feedback, managing small things quickly, impact the rest of your workflow? Let me know in the comments below.
Shorten Your Emails
Have you heard about the five-sentence email? It's not necessarily a new concept--it's been around for a few years, thanks to tech veteran Mike Davidson --- but I've been reconsidering it lately as I think about what it means to manage my time.
Raise your hand if:
- Your email inbox sparks dread or anxiety.
- You find yourself lost in the black hole of email responding.
- You star and flag emails, or mark them unread, but that doesn't make it any easier to stay on top of replies.
- Your email keeps you from tackling your to-do list. You spend lots of time fiddling with email replies, often writing too much or delaying sending an email because you need more time to reply.
- Your inbox count consistently resembles a millionaire's income.
I raised my hand for all of those. What about you?
Enter the five-sentence email.
It's simple, any time you respond to an email you write your reply in five sentences or less.
I've tried it and, in my experience, it's freeing to know that I don't have to spend precious time small-talking to my email recipient.
I'm not a purist, and I know it's not for everyone or every situation, of course. But I do appreciate the concept as a mindful exercise of succinctness. It's an opportunity to practice intentional, prompt, and effective correspondence.
It reminds me a lot of the dutiful telegram. No time wasted there. Just get to the point, dear sir.
What do you think, will you try this? Let me know in the comments below!
Make a List of Three
I’m so guilty of doing this but I’m going to ask the question anyway: How many tasks are on your to-do list? I imagine that it’s quite a lot and, if you’re anything like I am, your list has a tendency to grow to unruly lengths.
I recently became interested in a mindful work practice called Haiku productivity, a simple time management practice that encourages you to choose three and only three tasks to add to your to-do list. Three. Only three things to prioritize at any given time.
Consider asking yourself, “What could I stop doing? What could I do less of? Do more of?”
Then, commit to focusing on starting and finishing only three things each work day. This practice has helped me stay on task and on track, maintain attention, and complete a project without feeling disorganized and overwhelmed. If you’re feeling extra motivated and productive, then you can do what I do: try finishing those three things on your list, and then add 1-3 more to do until those new tasks are complete.
Will you start trying these suggestions? How can you incorporate these into your workday? Is there one that stands out for you?
I look forward to hearing what you think about these simple practices. Let me know how these suggestions change your work habits!