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7 Super Unproductive Habits Most People Have

7 Super Unproductive Habits Most People Have

We all have those moments when our brain simply refuses to work, but more often than not the lack of productivity can be closely associated to a number of poor lifestyle choices, which can be changed with a bit of effort. These 7 habits are decreasing our productivity level without us even realizing it. Go through these points to find out if you have adopted some of them, and how to effectively remedy the situation.

1. Desktop madness

If your job requires the use of a computer, you need to keep it organized in order to avoid situations where you cannot find a certain document or a folder. We all tend to name our folders different names that aren’t really related to the content inside them, and we sometimes end up naming folders random letters in a hurry – “jdakdndji,” sound familiar? You have definitely done this before while thinking – “I’ll get back to that later,” and you have never changed it. As the works piles up, the folders pile up on your desktop, which makes you waste your time on finding the one you need.

Everyone thinks: “This is my organized chaos, and I know where to find all the things I need.” However, what happens is that you aren’t aware of the negative impact of this chaos. When you start this desktop madness, you start getting used to it, which reflects on the other tasks you perform. Moreover, the fact that you decided to come back to that task, and never did, shows that you are prone to procrastinating. In order to fight this bad habit, you need to start from smaller tasks. Also, you’ll feel much better when you have your working tools organized, which will subconsciously influence your productivity level. This happens because you create a strong work drive, which makes you organize all the other work, and you feel eager to finish all the tasks.

People forget about all the junk in their computer, which decreases its performance. Having constant issues with your software such as malware, interrupts your working process, which leads to having your project cut down into lots of small pieces. This makes you feel stressed out and you lose your focus, so try to keep your PC fairly well organized and protected – there are simple tools that you can use to clean up your computer efficiently – which will enable you to speed up performance and keep it safe.

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2. Searching all the time for the best songs

Before you start working, you start searching for the right music to keep you on track and motivated. In fact, music can really help us focus and work without feeling stressed out or anxious. However, what happens in most cases, is that we spend hours searching for the right playlist, which is a waste of time. Moreover, when you play a certain playlist, there is always at least one song that you’ll want to change. Then you see other songs and start skipping all of them, and then it’s back to the beginning – you start searching for another playlist. This is something we all do and it makes us unproductive during working hours, as we lose focus easily and need more time to get back to work.

Also, many songs which you love can distract you from the tasks because you are listening to the lyrics. Therefore, if you need to have some music playing, include some jazz or classical music in your playlist, instead of catchy pop songs. These genres will keep you focused and productive during the entire day. Try it out and compare your performance.

3. Always being easy to reach

Social media has become a huge part of our lives – we are constantly posting photos, updating statuses and chatting with our friends. There are so many ways to reach someone such as Viber, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, Skype, Twitter and Snapchat, and of course regular calls and messages. It wasn’t until I started listing all the ways you can reach someone on their smartphone, that I realized just how many possibilities there are. They are very useful when it comes to communicating with friends and family who live in other cities and countries, sure, but because we are all addicted to technology, we forget when to limit its usage. This is why a lot of people keep getting messages and funny pictures while they’re at work, and this is only making them less productive.

If your work is constantly interrupted by different updates from your friends, it’s no wonder your performance and quality of work suffer. You should plan small breaks when you will allow yourself to check your private e-mail, inbox and all your social media pages. However, be careful not to get lost in the virtual world, as hours can pass without you noticing it. In fact, it is perfectly normal to always be there for your colleagues, but constant questions and favors can distract you from your work, and you’ll lose your focus. Because of that, you need to learn to say no, and offer to help only when you are truly free, except for urgent situations.

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Let’s play a game – turn off your personal smartphone when at work, and turn only the business one. If someone needs you urgently, they’ll definitely call you on your business number. Try this for a week, and compare results.

4. Bad posture while sitting at the desk

Having a bad posture when sitting and standing can decrease your productivity, as you are constantly bothered by the pain caused by slouching. If you are experiencing chronic back pain and headaches, then you probably have bad posture. It affects your overall appearance, as well as your health, but it also has a huge negative impact on your productivity. When sitting improperly your body gets tired and you start to feel pain in some parts of your body such as the back, neck, and shoulders. This leads to you feeling stressed, which in turn affects your overall mood and concentration.

The more your body feels tired, the more your mind refuses to focus. To avoid adopting a bad posture when sitting you need to have a comfortable chair and a foot rest, which will help in supporting your back. Moreover, you should pay attention not only to the chair and height of the table, but also the position of your whole body.

Bad posture is usually caused by not exercising, which is of great importance if you lead a predominantly sedentary lifestyle. Working out will improve your posture, and also improve your productivity because you will feel more energized and confident.

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If you really have problems when trying to focus on a task, you should take up some yoga classes as the exercises are meant to improve your concentration and make your body flexible. Put your smartphone to better use by tracking the number of steps you take each day or the distance that you’ve ran. If you are competitive, this will make your running and walking an interesting game. No matter how busy your schedule is, you can always find 10-20 minutes to exercise, which will improve your overall health and increase your productivity levels.

5. Wearing smart, but uncomfortable clothes

Everyone wants to look good and fashionable at work, especially if in contact with clients and business partners. However, the fashion industry comes up with some clothes that are uncomfortable when worn for hours on end, because they don’t allow you to move freely. That pretty new dress or sleek suit can look really good on you, but if it makes you feel uncomfortable and is only causing difficulties when sitting, then you might consider purchasing something else. This doesn’t mean you should go to work in your sweatpants, but just buy clothes that are both trendy and comfortable.

Sitting for 8 hours in an office while wearing tight and uncomfortable clothes can make you nervous and distracted. So, if you thought that clothes don’t have any influence on your work, you were wrong. Moreover, when you are wearing something that you feel good and attractive in, you will certainly be more productive.

6. Working from home

If there is a deadline or you didn’t manage to finish all of your tasks during the working hours, people have a tendency to work from home in order to finish everything on time. But, is it really helping? Are you really improving your productivity and the quality of your work? When working longer hours or from home, you are losing the time which should be dedicated to your private life. It is impossible to be productive during the entire day.

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When you push yourself to do more than you comfortably can, you are only tiring yourself out, and you won’t be prepared mentally for the next workday. This causes your productivity levels to decrease with each passing day. Work should be done during the working hours, and after that you need to dedicate time to yourself and your family. If you haven’t finished the task today, you’ll finish it tomorrow – no big deal. Therefore, put your mind to the test and find out when you are most productive.

So, the answer to the question is no, it is not good to bring your work home or work longer hours. Some days you will finish just one task, and some days it will be three tasks. You cannot control your mind, but you can train it and learn to intelligently utilise the hours when your concentration is at its peak.

7. Having breakfast at the office

Not waking up early to drink the first morning coffee and eat breakfast at home is the mistake many people make. In order to sleep more, you can have breakfast at the office. When you come to work you need to be ready and in mood for working, and not still sleepy and grumpy. Also, eating at the office usually means eating fast food and junk food, which isn’t healthy for you, especially if it is your first meal of the day. It is recommended to have a healthy breakfast, because it gives you energy and charges up your brain.

As food has a direct influence on your cognitive performance, you need to eat healthy and regularly – skipping meals will cause poor decision making, as our body needs glucose to keep us focused. Small snacks like beef jerky, chicken salad, bananas or peanuts can help keep the hunger away, but it is always best to stick to organic and free range food options, as they have the most nutrients and are ethically produced.

If you get up earlier, you’ll have time to take the first sip of coffee in your peaceful home and have a healthy breakfast. This will prepare your body and mind for the work challenges and improve your productivity.

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Katarina Milovanovic

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

Overwhelmed with work, family responsibilities, financial challenges and health issues are common culprits which catalyze stress and anxiety symptoms that show up differently in each and every one of us.

Whilst many of us are becoming much better at identifying what can trigger us to feel these, we’re not always that great at recognizing our individual thresholds; we don’t know exactly how to calm down when the mental, emotional storms erupt.

We can almost see you eye-rolling upon hearing commonly recommended stress antidotes such as taking a bath, lighting candles or going for a walk. Let’s face it. These simply aren’t practical things you can do when you’re on a red-eye flight at 5:30am to run a full day of training interstate and then fly back the same evening not to mention juggling a young family.

You want to know your triggers, predict the impact of them and have your own suite of tools up your sleeve to calm down that impact for the long-term.

Doing a little ground work to gain a strong self-awareness of your likely reactions puts you smack bang in the pilot seat to develop a robust mental and emotional toolkit that will work wonders for you.

A few simple but well-practiced techniques may be all you need to simmer down the cyclonic intensity of emotions, and disparaging thoughts pecking away at your self-esteem and confidence. However, it’s important you do this self-reflective groundwork first to gain maximum impact for long-term effect.

1. Strengthen Familiarity with What Triggers You

When you have arguments with your loved one, do you stop and look to see if there are certain things you fight about? Are there certain behaviors they display that drive you bananas?

Take your focus off them and ask yourself: “What is my usual response?”

Perhaps you feel the anger welling up inside your chest and you then spurt out that you’ve told him or her ten times before to not leave their underwear lying across the bedroom floor.

Think a little deeper. Ask yourself what values, standards and expectations you have that are not being met here. You’ll likely be attached to certain ways you believe things should play out. Are there assumptions and expectations as to how you believe people should conduct themselves and principles about how you feel you should be treated?

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Having a strong attachment to these for yourself is one thing. Expecting others to have the same attachment is often what can make the hot water start simmering.

It is often when people behave in ways inconsistent with our belief systems and events unfold in discord with what we expect and are prepared for that we feel the most stress and anxiety.

Make a list of the common circumstances in different areas of your life that cause you to become anxious and stressed. Against each of these, describe your stress response:

What happens? What do you feel?

Now think about the values, principles and expectations you have attached to these. You’ll see you have a few options:

  • Change my values and expectations
  • Try to change other’s values and expectations
  • Recognize and be in allowance of others having different values, standards and expectations

Reviewing how you react when you’re stressed and anxious, and identifying which of these three options above is going to best serve you, can greatly increase your ability to feel and be in control of calming your reaction.

You move closer to being able to choose how you want to respond as opposed to feeling helpless and the world is spiralling out of control.

2. Have Coping Statements on Hand

When you have a washing machine of chaotic thoughts churning in your mind, trying to implant thoughts that are the complete opposite of what you’re thinking and feeling can be pretty hard.

Not being able to do it can also add another layer of us feeling disappointment in ourselves. We feel we’re failing.

Having coping statements that you can literally latch on to to help you calm down in those stressful and anxious moments, can be particularly helpful.

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Look at creating palm cards and just have three to five of these you can have in your pocket or in your purse. Here are 6 examples:

  • Even though I am feeling this right now, I am going to be alright
  • What I am feeling right now is uncomfortable. I won’t feel this way forever. Soon the intensity of what I am feeling will pass.
  • I’ve survived these feelings before. I can do it again.
  • I feel this way because of my past experiences but right now, I am actually safe.
  • It’s ok for me to feel this way. My body and brain are trying to protect me but I am actually safe right now.
  • Ah, here you are again, anxiety. Thanks for showing up to protect me, but I don’t need you right now.

Choose words and dialogue that feel true and accurate for you. Read the statements out to yourself and test how fitting they are for you. What feels more assuring, calming and right for you?

Make these statements your own. The aim is of these statements is to de-escalate the intensity of what you feel when you’re anxious and stressed.

Remember, you want to refrain from having blunt statements which feel or sound like they’re self-reprimanding because they won’t be pacifying in a positive way.

If you are unsure as to how to come up with statements that fit for you, look to work with a psychologist or licensed therapist to give you a strong start.

3. Identify and Develop Physical Anchors

You actually have within you resources to provide some of the most effective ways to calm yourself down in heightened moments you feel stressed and anxious. Renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Peter Levine and expert in treating stress and trauma, teaches us how techniques which do this, such as Somatic Experiencing®[1] can significantly help us calm down.

By learning to be fully present and applying touch to certain areas of your body (e.g. forehead and heart space), you increase your capacity to self-regulate. You also learn how to attend to and release your unique symptoms that your body has been containing in a way you have not been able to before.

Here’s one technique example:

  1. Get in a comfortable position
  2. Have your eyes open or closed, whatever feels most comfortable for you
  3. Now place one hand on your forehead, palm side flat against the skin
  4. Place the other hand, palm down across your heart space above your sternum… the flat of your chest area.
  5. Gently turn your attention to what you feel physically in the area between your two hands. Observe and just take notice of what you physically feel. Is your chest pounding? How strong are its beat and the rhythm? Do you notice any other sensations anywhere else between your two hands?
  6. Don’t try to push or resist what you’re feeling. Try to just sit with it and remain this way with your hands in place until you feel a shift, a physical one. It might take a little longer, so try to be patient.

You might feel a change in energy flow, a change in temperature or different, less intense sensations. Just keep your hands in place until you feel some kind of shift, even if gradual.

It might take you even 5 to 10 minutes but, riding this wave will help you to process what discomfort your body is containing. It will greatly help to release it so you gradually become calmer.

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Purely cognitive exercises can be tough at the outset. Learning somatic experience techniques is particularly helpful because you’re engaging in exercises where you physically can feel the difference. Feeling the changes helps you increase confidence you can control and reduce the discomfort you’re feeling. You’ll be motivated to keep practicing and improving this skill you can take anywhere, anytime.

4. Move and Get Physical

If you’re not one to exercise, you’re robbing yourself of some very easy ways which help you calm down and reduce stress and anxiety responses. Many neuro chemical changes take place when you engage in exercise.

At certain levels of physical exertion, your brain’s pituitary gland releases neurotransmitter endorphins. When they bind with certain opiate receptors in your brain, signals are transmuted throughout your nervous system to reduce feelings of pain and trigger feelings of euphoria. You might have heard the term ‘runner’s high’.

For the last 20 years, University of Missouri-Columbia’s Professor Richard Cox has conducted research showing that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective at reducing anxiety and stress levels than other forms of aerobic exercise.[2] However, if you would rather slay dragons than turn up an F45 class, it’s essential you still find something that will physically shift you and alter your current mental and emotional state of mind, even just a fraction to start with. It’s 100% ok if this is not your cup of tea.

So in a day full of back of back-to-back meetings, what can you do?

If you’re sitting, stand. Change your posture and open your body up. Have a suite of discrete stretches you can do regularly as you deepen and engage in diaphragmatic breathing.

If you’re looking down at your desk at work and feeling increasingly stressed, look up and change what you’re looking at. Give yourself more than a few moments to decompress.

The main thing is to change your disposition from the one you’re in when you are experiencing anxiety and stress symptoms. You’re shaking it up to calm it down.

5. Transform Your Unhelpful Inner Dialogue and Its Energy

Learning cognitive restructuring techniques can truly work wonders in helping you recognize and re-frame unhelpful dialogue and negative critical thinking patterns. This involves a little preparation being transparent with yourself about what exaggerated perspectives you might ascribe to what’s happening when you’re feeling stressed and anxious.

When you open your email inbox and see a flood of requests which require more time and energy you have for that day, dread starts to settle in and the following comes to mind: “This is impossible. How can they expect me to be able to do all this? It’s completely unreasonable!”

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Instantly, many other thoughts that reinforce this line of thinking as well as the emotional energy of your first conscious thought start unravelling. A 4-step process you can engage to calm the eruption is:

  1. Catch and notice that first thought you had. What was it? What did you think and/or say to yourself?
  2. Recognize that what you’re feeling and be in allowance of the initial intensity of whatever those emotions are.
  3. Breath deliberately a little more deeply and slowly for a few seconds.
  4. State to yourself: “Right now (in this moment) I’m feeling overwhelmed by this, however maybe I can look at what I can make good progress and headway with as a start from here on.”

Notice the language in step 4 is tentative, supportive, soft and not resistant nor defiant of what your original thought was. You accept your original thought, but gradually you become stronger at pivoting it.[3] You’re expanding your growth mindset language.

It’s definitely worth working with a coach or trained therapist to learn how to tailor re-framing statements which can truly help you calm down.

Final Thoughts

We know, in our minds what we should do. When we’re in the thick of experiencing mental and emotional turmoil, it’s actually harder to implement what we know. In those moments, you’re unlikely to have capacity to think about what you need to do, let alone do it effectively to help you feel calmer.

The key is to practice so that when the storm is brewing, your toolkit and supplies are in easy access. You already know your safety drill well.

Knowing you have strategies and prepared processes up your sleeves helps you not only become better at calming yourself in amongst currently stressful situations. You have more confidence now to face more anxiety-provoking stressors because you have developed the resources to handle it.

How you invest time and energy into getting to know your triggers and thresholds will influence how effective these strategies will work for you. We’re not denying relaxing baths or regular massages are helpful, however these band-aid-like solutions don’t really confront the root causes.

If you truly want to turn your experience of your stress and anxiety symptoms around, dig deeper, do the groundwork and that which rattled your cage will quickly become a thing of the past.

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

Reference

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