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10 Ways to Reclaim Your Mental Space Amidst a Busy Schedule

10 Ways to Reclaim Your Mental Space Amidst a Busy Schedule

Is today’s landscape of over stimulation (media, smart devices, multitasking, high-stress work environments) making you increasingly anxious? Do you find yourself fleeting through a busy schedule, meeting tight deadlines and being constantly contacted while barely getting the time to be present, enjoy an experience, or live in the moment? You’re not alone. And what’s more—living in such a state of excessive stimulation can leave you mentally fatigued and lower your productivity.

Try these easy tips to find your calm and reset and reclaim your mental space amidst any busy schedule.

1. Start an easy breathing technique.

This simple 4-2-4-2 breathing technique increases focus, energy and promotes relaxation. Inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 2, exhale for a count of 4, hold for 2. Feel the air fill your lungs as you breathe in and feel the air leave your lungs as you exhale. Repeat this 5–10 times and feel your mind and body instantly relax. Do it at least once a day to get your body and mind in a calmer and more focused state of being.

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2. Less is more.

If you’ve got a schedule that doesn’t allow you any wiggle room any day of the week, then you need to do less. Rushing from task to task without  a break can lead to multiple unwanted outcomes. You could start to burn out. Mental fatigue can make you to take longer to complete your tasks, getting even more anxious. As you rush through your activities, you may not complete one or more the way you would like to because you’re moving on to the next. You’re impatient and snappy when that’s not the real you.

So, start to prioritize your tasks and let a few of them go. Perhaps move some to another day. They will always be there for you when you wake up tomorrow. You’ll find yourself being more productive, more efficient, and more content.

3. Reclaim your morning.

If your morning starts with reading the news or checking your email while sipping your first cup of coffee or tea and solving problems on your drive to work, then you might be jolting your body into a state of over-stimulation before it is ready. Ease it in and reclaim your morning. Enjoy your shower. Sip your beverage slowly. Nourish the smell and taste. Take a moment to enjoy your breakfast. Start your work activities only when you’ve moved through your morning space.

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4. Do something fun every day.

We’re generally wired to give 100% attention to something we consider fun to do. Even spending 20–30 minutes on something you enjoy—like gardening, wood carving, cooking, baking or whatever hobby you cherish—can have you unwinding from your day’s stress and training your mind to focus wholly without distractions. Shifting your thoughts to something totally different from what you generally do all day will also help you unwind completely and feel mentally refreshed.

5. Rest your mind with sounds of nature.

Anxiety surmounts when we’re surrounded by a lot of activity and navigating a bustling world every day. You need to get away and clear your mind without having to go on a vacation. If you can get to a park, lake, beach or river, then sit by the water and listen to the sounds and environment. If you can’t, then step back anyway. Put those headphones on and listen to calming sounds like trickling water, waves washing ashore or other sounds. Zone out the world and listen to sounds of nature. Feel your stress melt away as you realize and appreciate nature.

6. Try a few yoga stretches.

Yoga is an age-old proven technique for disciplining mind and body. Many yoga websites offer easy poses with pictures and instructions for a beginner or even the advanced yogi. Try a few simple stretches to start your day with energy of even relaxing stretches to unwind at night. Whatever you fancy, you’ll start to slowly develop a rhythm that will help you clear your mind and enhance your focus.

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7. Connect with friends.

We’re social beings. Human interaction is paramount to our wellbeing. Positive human interaction is comforting, soothing, and even calming. Friends do just that. Step out and meet a friend for coffee or dinner. Listen to them talk and appreciate the safety net of friendship and have a good laugh. Get a good mental reset.

8. Unplug from devices.

We’re always “plugged in” and this is one of the main culprits of over stimulation in today’s culture.

Disconnecting can be hard. Start with ½ a day every week to be unplugged from your phone or computer.  Fill that time with something, or someone, fun. Take a walk or sit at a café and watch people go by. Browse an old bookstore or antique shop. Maybe you’d like a long drive out to the country. Let the time pass without Wi-Fi. Enjoy the space and feel your inner Zen bloom.

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9. Read a book in bed—the old fashioned way.

Good sleep rests your mind and body. Lack of sleep increases anxiety, reduces concentration and interferes with your productivity. When you’re getting ready for bed, your brain triggers the production of Melatonin, a sleep hormone that signals your body to get ready to sleep. Blue light emitted from your tablet or phone can suppress melatonin production. Over time, this leads to disrupted sleep/ wake cycles (circadian rhythm) or a restless night. Try an old fashioned page-turner instead. Keep your room dim and cool. Create a cozy environment to get the best sleep you can so you wake up well rested and alert.

10. Identify your “happy place” reset.

There’s something that makes you happy—a place you loved, a place you long to be or an experience you cherished so much you would love to have it again. Whatever your happy place is, it’s your mental safety net. Think about this once in a while. Take a good 5 minutes at least to visualize your happy place. Imagine yourself there, taking in the sights and sensations. This will reset your thoughts and help guide you to what you really want and what you really enjoy.

Conclusion

Disengaging and anchoring your thoughts to achieve mental well being is a step by step process. Don’t worry about being perfect. You’ll get better at it with practice. As part of the safety briefing on airplanes, they always tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. Your mental well-being is just as important so you can be your best for all that rely on you. Don’t ever give up your mental space.

The whole purpose is to reach a state of happy gratitude and calm, a state that you can control and command at will so you can be well while you’re being productive.

Featured photo credit: Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on June 5, 2020

10 Huge Differences Between a Boss And a Leader

10 Huge Differences Between a Boss And a Leader

When you try to think of a leader at your place of work, you might think of your boss — you know, the supervisor in the tasteful office down the hall.

However, bosses are not the only leaders in the office, and not every boss has mastered the art of excellent leadership. Maybe the best leader you know is the co-worker sitting at the desk next to yours who is always willing to loan out her stapler and help you problem solve.

You see, a boss’s main priority is to efficiently cross items off of the corporate to-do list, while a true leader both completes tasks and works to empower and motivate the people he or she interacts with on a daily basis.

A leader is someone who works to improve things instead of focusing on the negatives. People acknowledge the authority of a boss, but people cherish a true leader.

Puzzled about what it takes to be a great leader? Let’s take a look at the difference between a boss and a leader, and why cultivating quality leadership skills is essential for people who really want to make a positive impact.

1. Leaders Are Compassionate; Bosses Are Cold

It can be easy to equate professionalism with robot-like impersonal behavior. Many bosses stay holed up in their offices and barely ever interact with staff.

Even if your schedule is packed, you should always make time to reach out to the people around you. Remember that when you ask someone to share how they are feeling, you should be prepared to be vulnerable and open in your communication as well.

Does acting human at the office sound silly? It’s not.

A lack of compassion in the office leads to psychological turmoil, whereas positive connection leads to healthier staff.[1]

If people feel that you are being open, honest, and compassionate with them, they will feel able to approach your office with what is on their minds, leading to a more productive and stress-free work environment.

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2. Leaders Say “We”; Bosses Say “I”

Practice developing a team-first mentality when thinking and speaking. In meetings, talk about trying to meet deadlines as a team instead of using accusatory “you” phrases. This makes it clear that you are a part of the team, too, and that you are willing to work hard and support your team members.

Let me explain:

A “we” mentality shifts the office dynamic from “trying to make the boss happy” to a spirit of teamwork, goal-setting, and accomplishment.

A “we” mentality allows for the accountability and community that is essential in the modern-day workplace.

3. Leaders Invest in People; Bosses Use People

Unfortunately, many office climates involve people using others to get what they want or to climb the corporate ladder. This is another example of the “me first” mentality that is so toxic in both office environments and personal relationships.

Instead of using others or focusing on your needs, think about how you can help other people grow.

Use your building blocks of compassion and team-mentality to stay attuned to the needs of others and note the areas in which you can help them develop. A great leader wants to see his or her people flourish.

Make a list of ways you can invest in your team members to help them develop personally and professionally, and then take action!

4. People Respect Leaders; People Fear Bosses

Earning respect from everyone on your team will take time and commitment, but the rewards are worth every ounce of effort.

A boss who is a poor leader may try to control the office through fear and bully-like behavior. Employees who are petrified about their performance or who feel overwhelmed and stressed by unfair deadlines are probably working for a boss who uses a fear system instead of a respect system.

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What’s the bottom line?

Work to build respect among your team by treating everyone with fairness and kindness. Maintain a positive tone and stay reliable for those who approach you for help.

5. Leaders Give Credit Where It’s Due; Bosses Only Take Credit

Looking for specific ways to gain respect from your colleagues and employees? There is no better place to start than with the simple act of giving credit where it is due.

Don’t be tempted to take credit for things you didn’t do, and always go above and beyond to generously acknowledge those who worked on a project and performed well.

You might be wondering how you can get started:

  • Begin by simply noticing which team member contributes what during your next project at work.
  • If possible, make mental notes. Remember that these notes should not be about ways in which team members are failing, but about ways in which they are excelling.
  • Depending on your leadership style, let people know how well they are doing either in private one-on-one meetings or in a group setting. Be honest and generous in your communication about a person’s performance.

6. Leaders See Delegation as Their Best Friend; Bosses See It as an Enemy

If delegation is a leader’s best friend, then micromanagement is the enemy.

Delegation equates to trust, and micromanagement equates to distrust. Nothing is more frustrating for an employee than feeling that his or her every movement is being critically observed.

Encourage trust in your office by delegating important tasks and acknowledging that your people are capable, smart individuals who can succeed!

Delegation is a great way to cash in on the positive benefits of a psychological phenomenon called the self-fulfilling prophecy. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, a person’s expectations of another person can cause the expectations to be fulfilled.[2]

In other words, if you truly believe that your team member can handle a project or task, he or she is more likely to deliver.

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You can learn more about how to delegate in my other article: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders).

7. Leaders Work Hard; Bosses Let Others Do the Work

Delegation is not an excuse to get out of hard work. Instead of telling people to go accomplish the hardest work alone, make it clear that you are willing to pitch in and help with the most difficult tasks when the need arises.

Here’s the deal:

Showing others that you work hard sets the tone for your whole team and will spur them on to greatness.

The next time you catch yourself telling someone to “go,” a.k.a accomplish a difficult task alone, change your phrasing to “let’s go,” showing that you are totally willing to help and support them.

8. Leaders Think Long-Term; Bosses Think Short-Term

A leader who only utilizes short-term thinking is someone who cannot be prepared or organized for the future. Your colleagues or staff members need to know that they can trust you to have a handle on things not just this week, but next month or even next year.

Display your long-term thinking skills in group talks and meetings by sharing long-term hopes or concerns. Create plans for possible scenarios and be prepared for emergencies.

For example, if you know that you are losing someone on your team in a few months, be prepared to share a clear plan of how you and the remaining team members can best handle the change and workload until someone new is hired.

9. Leaders Are Like Colleagues; Bosses Are Just Bosses

Another word for a colleague is a collaborator. Make sure your team knows that you are “one of them” and that you want to collaborate or work side by side.

Not getting involved in the going ons of the office is a mistake because you will miss out on development and connection opportunities.

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As our regular readers know, I love to remind people of the importance of building routines into each day. Create a routine that encourages you to leave your isolated office and collaborate with others. Spark healthy habits that benefit both you and your co-workers.

10. Leaders Put People First; Bosses Put Results First

Bosses without crucial leadership training may focus on process and results instead of people. They may stick to a pre-set systems playbook, even when employees voice new ideas or concerns.

Ignoring people’s opinions for the sake of company tradition like this is never truly beneficial to an organization.

Here’s what I mean by process over people:

Some organizations focus on proper structures or systems as their greatest assets instead of people. I believe that people lend real value to an organization, and that focusing on the development of people is a key ingredient for success in leadership.

Final Thoughts

Learning to be a leader is an ongoing adventure.

This list of differences makes it clear that, unlike an ordinary boss, a leader is able to be compassionate, inclusive, generous, and hard-working for the good of the team.

Instead of being a stereotypical scary or micromanaging-obsessed boss, a quality leader is able to establish an atmosphere of respect and collaboration.

Whether you are new to your work environment or a seasoned administrator, these leadership traits will help you get a jump start so that you can excel as a leader and positively impact the people around you.

For more inspiration and guidance, you can even start keeping tabs on some of the world’s top leadership experts. With an adventurous and positive attitude, anyone can learn good leadership.

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

Reference

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