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.
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 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.
In an experiment 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
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 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.
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
|||^||Harvard Business Review: Spending 10 Minutes a Day on Mindfulness Subtly Changes the Way You React to Everything|
|||^||UCI.edu: Study of Informatics: A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons: An Empirical Study of Work Without Email|
|||^||Scientific American: What Does Mindfulness Meditation Do To Your Brain|