5 productivity hacks for anxious or easily distracted people
As someone who struggles with anxiety and a very short attention span, I am always looking for ways to handle work and sharpen my focus so that I don’t get as overwhelmed by all my tasks.
Whilst doing some shadow work, I realized what happens to my mind: My mind tends to become dominated by either past or future events, thereby disturbing my ability to complete the tasks at hand in the present.
It’s completely normal in our busy topsy-turvy world, for our minds to stray from the here-and-now to tomorrow...next week...next month...next…
I have found that practicing mindfulness in small bits throughout the day has helped me become aware of my thoughts and anchor me in the present moment.
Here are some tips that have helped me be more mindful while working:
1. Very short meditations
You might not be ready to commit to a rigid meditation practice, but consider doing some breathwork and quick meditation practices of 2-3 minutes each a few times throughout the day.
Whenever you start to feel stressed or distracted during the workday, take a minute to focus on your breath. How does it feel to be inhaling and exhaling?
If your mind and/or heart are racing, try the box-breath technique (hold for 4 seconds, inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds).
If you’re keen on a longer meditation, check out my guided focus intention-setting session.
2. Take it one step at a time
I used to think that it was more efficient to take on as many tasks as I possibly could, thinking if I get it all done in one go it will make for an easier workflow. But that’s simply not true.
By dividing your attention up for multiple tasks, you are not giving any of them the attention that they need.
I’ve found that it’s more efficient to focus on one task at a time, and really force myself to be present whilst doing it. This more mindful approach means that I can more easily clear my mind from stress and distractions, and I tend to complete tasks quicker and better that way.
3. Remember the “Why” and “What for”
Especially when we’re stressed, our minds tend to lose sight of the reason behind why we’re doing what we’re doing. Motivation is such an important part of completing quality, fulfilling work.
Take a step back to remember why you’re doing this task, or why you took on this project. When you finish work for the day, take some time to reflect on points where you felt challenged, learned something, or felt inspired. Write them down and come back to them when you need motivation.
4. Replace your “To-do List” with an “I get-to list”
In a culture that emphasizes fast work, our minds get overwhelmed with the “I have to” narrative. An easy way to shift our mindset is to consider our tasks as opportunities.
I learned this amazing tip from Brialle Ringer (check out her website!) during her awesome 7 week Chakra healing course.
By writing an “I get to” list instead of a “to-do” list, it is easier to celebrate the opportunity to achieve our goals. Ticking off the tasks on the “I get to” list is also an opportunity to show gratitude to yourself for putting in the effort and work in achieving your goals.
You can also add some fun titles in there like: “Today I get to smile, enjoy my cup of coffee, or even just be kind to myself.”
5. Feel all them feelings
Mindfulness isn’t only about promoting positive feelings. It’s also about noticing and acknowledging negative feelings.
Be present and in the moment, just the way it is. Don’t try to force happy thoughts or resist any particular emotional response.
Sometimes, you just need to accept unpleasant emotions as a part of the moment. Accept disappointment, sadness, anger, jealousy, etc. as what they are and allow yourself to feel them. Most important is to be mindful of how you react to negative experiences, without judging yourself.
These five things have helped me to focus when things get really tough, especially when there’s a deadline looming. But it’s important to note that developing rest and self-love routines go hand-in-hand with productivity.
Sometimes it can be detrimental to our mental health to force ourselves when our bodies and minds are really just telling us to rest or to take some time for ourselves. There will be bad days, no matter how often you meditate, and sometimes it’s better not to push ourselves when working.
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