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Want To Have Better Focus And Do Everything More Efficiently? Learn These 3 Tricks

Want To Have Better Focus And Do Everything More Efficiently? Learn These 3 Tricks

Your morning seemed to stretch on forever. It’s finally lunch, but between fielding phone calls and answering emails, you realize you didn’t get that much accomplished. Maybe after lunch, work will go smoother. It doesn’t. Sound like an all too familiar scenario? You feel like you’re pedaling a bicycle like a competition cyclist in the Tour de France, yet you appear to be getting nowhere. We all desire to be more focused at work and perform our tasks more efficiently. We want to be better at our jobs, more caring in our relationships and aim for living a more meaningful existence, yet our goals keep getting disrupted, our lives interrupted. With three simple tricks, you can tweak your way into achieving better focus and do everything with more efficiency.

1.Turn off all of the notifications on your devices

Time commitment: Less than 1 minute

This is by far the easiest hack, requiring less than a minute of your time. Removing distractions will help you to focus better. The constant beep of an incoming email, the buzz of a new like on Instagram and those slew of friend requests are stealing your concentration. Go to ‘settings’ on your phone and turn them off. All of them. They are simply distractions that are taking you away from something more important.

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If the thought of living without your notifications becomes too much to bear, don’t panic, the likes and notices will still be there for you to view later. Set aside a time when you can check your notifications; do so and then switch off that phone and return your focus to living the life you want, not one that is ruled by bleeps and buzzes.

2. Avoid reading your emails first thing in the morning

Time commitment: One week

You get to work, grab your coffee and switch on your computer. What do you do next? If you are tempted to check your emails – stop! Studies[1] show that people are more creative and focused first thing in the morning. Don’t waste that precious energy getting sidetracked and stressed by reading emails. Instead, choose a task to focus on and hold off for thirty minutes or more before opening that inbox on your computer. You will become more productive, accomplish more and be able to focus better if you leave reading those emails until later.

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In an experiment[2] involving workers and emails, it took five days of email deprivation before the test subjects lost their desire to read their emails! So yes, email reading can be an addiction and you may have to wean yourself from it. The more emails you have, the higher levels of stress you suffer, but checking emails less frequently reduces stress.

Removing emails from your daily life for one week can make an improved difference to not only your health but also your efficiency. Take that time to focus completely on your work, on your family and friends. Though completely removing emails from your life may be counter-productive, pick a time during the day that you can dedicate to reading your emails.

3. Set aside time to meditate daily

Time Commitment: 2 to 10 minutes a day for 8 weeks

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If someone told you that you could change your life, your health, your focus and it didn’t require a shot in the arm, a bitter pill to swallow each day or brain surgery, would you try it? Why wouldn’t you? 8 weeks is all it takes to change your brain. Meditation not only makes you healthier and less stressed, it also changes the entire makeup of your brain.

8 weeks of daily meditation is all it takes to shrink the flight-or-fight primal instincts of your brain and grow the prefrontal cortex- that place associated with decision making and concentration. By meditating, you are literally altering your brain for the better! You no longer just react to situations. Your brain creates a response time gap or pause between the situation and your actions become thoughtful instead of instinctive knee-jerk.

Studies[3] show that people who have been regularly meditating for 8 weeks have the same brain patterns when they are not meditating as those people who are in a state of meditation. Meaning, as a regular practitioner of meditation, you constantly exist in a calm, meditative state whether you are actually meditating or not. Makes you want to go ‘om,’ right? But you don’t have to start Buddhist chanting to receive these benefits; simply focusing on your breath for a minute or two will help. There are apps available now that can guide you along the way with carving out time to meditate, like the popular Headspace 2.0.

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How much time are you ready to dedicate to improving your life? From less than a minute of finger-swiping the notification bars on your phone to daily meditation for eight weeks and beyond. Want to focus better and become more efficient in everything you do? Make the commitment to change your life.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash at Pixaby via pixabay.com

Reference

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Sally White

writer, artist & blogger

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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