Want to get more done without trying too hard? It may sound too good to be true but it’s not – here’s how to be more productive at work
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Weekdays often start with a frantic battle in traffic, too many deadlines to mention, and then end with us crawling towards the finish line only for it to start all over again. Sometimes all we need is to simply take a deep breath and adjust our habits to get back on track and find some career zen. We spoke to Oli Doyle, author of Mindfulness at Work (Orion), for his tips on embracing inner calm.
1. Start off your day with a clear mind
Take a walk before work, feel yourself breathing and look around. Notice colours and patterns – see how much detail you can take in. When you feel calm, take time to plan your day and prioritise tasks. Having a clear mind will ensure you get the best out of yourself. This is the chance for you to declutter all those thoughts buzzing around your head, so that you can make space for more productive mental tasks.
2. Stop multitasking
Do one thing at a time; multitasking has been proven to be inefficient. Research shows that it takes about 15 minutes for your brain to switch from one task to the next, so it’ll take you longer to focus on a new problem if you’re working on two or more tasks. Whenever possible, try give each task your total attention and see it through to its end.
3. Embrace stress
If stress is there, allow it to be. When you fight it, that very resistance creates worry. Take 10 seconds to step back, then focus on the task as best as you can, without fretting about the outcome.
4. Deal with conflict the right way
Conflict isn’t a problem, it’s the thoughts and feelings generated by it that’s likely to cause trouble. Allow these thoughts to be there, but don’t let them control how you handle the situation. Instead, just let them pass through you before actually addressing the conflict.
5. Incorporate daily breathing exercises
Throughout the day, take a few seconds to focus on your breathing. Sit up straight and start to inhale and exhale slowly. Feeling the afternoon slump after lunch? Try a breathing exercise. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of two, and then exhale for two. Inhale again for two breaths, but this time exhale for three – continue like this, increasing your exhalations by one count each time until you get to five. Whenever the mind starts to wander, return to your breathing. This allows you to refocus.
6. Live in the present
Practise concentrating on what is happening now and leave the past and future alone. When you are at work, be there fully and keep your home life separate. At the end of the day, shift your attention to your journey home. Stay in the here and now for the evening.
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