Advertising
Advertising

How To Get Things Done While Being Mindful

How To Get Things Done While Being Mindful

    As you venture your way into 2012 and try to reach the goals, make the habits, and finish up the projects that you have outlined for yourself, you may start to see a bit of stress and overwhelm building up in your life. You become so concentrated on what you have setup for yourself to accomplish during the year that the “less important things” fall by the wayside.

    Most productivity gurus will tell you that this is a good thing; to make sure that they things that you are working on are the things that you want to do, are good at, and are important. It makes sense to concentrate on the things that keep you energized and creative. But, we may that because of all the attention we are giving to our “big ideas” we start to lose touch with some of the other things in life that are important.

    Advertising

    We have to accomplish the things that we have set out for ourselves all while staying mindful of what is important to us in our lives. And, boy, it can be tough sometimes.

    Make a list

    David Allen talks about our “Areas of Focus.” These are all the areas in our life that we deem important and that need attention to ensure that we are operating at a certain level of productivity with the least amount of stress.

    GTD is so useful, at least for this geek, because it concentrates on the lower levels of productivity first; tasks and projects. It’s a bottom-up approach that helps one “clear the decks” so they can start to look at the higher levels of their lives (ie. Areas of Focus).

    Advertising

    This is where some GTD practitioners get stuck. They concentrate on the task and project portion so much that they forget the higher levels. It’s important to get your deck clear as soon as possible, that is, closing all your open loops and making sure that you have everything on the task and project level accounted for.

    Then you can list the areas of your life and start to find balance.

    I make the list of my Areas of Focus in a mindmap and then review it at least once a month with my weekly review. Sometimes, especially if you are feeling extra unbalanced in your life, you may need to pull this list out to re-ground yourself.

    Advertising

    My list:

    • Work
    • Home
    • Husband
    • Lifehack
    • DevBurner
    • Finances
    • Health and vitality
    • Spirituality
    • Learning
    • Pets

    Take some time and quiet yourself

    I noticed yesterday that most times I only think of myself. What am I going to do today? What am I going to write about? How will I have enough money for that? Am I going to make it this year?

    This constant, selfish self-talk had me wake up with a slight realization. I need to stop. And when I stop, I will think of others in my life. I don’t mean thinking of others in the way of “how am I going to do ‘x’ to help them.’ I’m talking about an honest look at the person or situation for what it is.

    Advertising

    You’d be surprised how often your mind is selfish. What will surprise you even more is that when you stop and think about others, many things that you may have been ignoring start to show up like realizing your anniversary is coming up, that you haven’t seen your friends in-the-flesh for several weeks, or haven’t talked to anyone in your family recently.

    Wash, rinse, and repeat

    The only way to stay mindful while accomplishing your goals this year is to make sure that you get in the habit of reviewing your Areas of Focus and stopping to reflect and think of things other than yourself.

    Our minds are constantly on; analyzing and troubleshooting everything around us. It’s a good thing that they are so powerful. But we have to use them vigilantly to ensure that we are paying attention to the right things and doing the right things in our lives. You can only make sure this happens by repeatedly evaluating your focus.

    Conclusion

    If you have been on the productivity kick for any period of time, you know just how hard it can be to stay focused as well as focus on the right things. The only way that I have found to keep this going is to make sure that you have defined what your focus should be and then stopping yourself and become mindful of it. Hopefully with this type of practice you can accomplish your goals this year knowing that what is important to you isn’t being ignored.

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

    5 Project Management Tools to Get Your Team on Track To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Simple Tweaks to Make Design Is Important: How To Fail At Blogging 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 6 Unexpected Ways Journaling Every Day Will Make Your Life Better

    Trending in Productivity

    1 What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time 2 5 Key Traits of a Charismatic Leadership 3 How Do I Change for the Better? 11 Little Things to Start Doing 4 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020 5 How to Make a Positive Change for a Fulfilling Life

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on March 30, 2020

    What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

    What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

    If you’ve got a big block of free time, the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, decompress from a stressful day, or spend time with a loved one. But if you’ve just got a little chunk — say 5 or 10 minutes — there’s no time to do any of the fun stuff.

    So, what to do in free time?

    Put those little chunks of time to their most productive use.

    Everyone works differently, so the best use of your free time really depends on you, your working style, and what’s on your to-do list. But it’s handy to have a list like this in order to quickly find a way to put that little spare time to work instantly, without any thought. Use the following list as a way to spark ideas for what you can do in a short amount of time.

    1. Reading Files

    Clip magazine articles or print out good articles or reports for reading later, and keep them in a folder marked “Reading File”. Take this wherever you go, and any time you have a little chunk of time, you can knock off items in your Reading File.

    Keep a reading file on your computer (or in your bookmarks), for quick reading while at your desk (or on the road if you’ve got a laptop).

    2. Clear out Inbox

    Got a meeting in 5 minutes? Use it to get your physical or email inbox to empty.

    If you’ve got a lot in your inbox, you’ll have to work quickly, and you may not get everything done; but reducing your pile can be a big help. And having an empty inbox is a wonderful feeling.

    Advertising

    3. Phone Calls

    Keep a list of phone calls you need to make, with phone numbers, and carry it everywhere.

    Whether you’re at your desk or on the road, you can knock a few calls off your list in a short amount of time.

    4. Make Money

    This is my favorite productive use of free time. I have a list of articles I need to write, and when I get some spare minutes, I’ll knock off half an article real quick.

    If you get 5 to 10 chunks of free time a day, you can make a decent side income. Figure out how you can freelance your skills, and have work lined up that you can knock out quickly — break it up into little chunks, so those chunks can be done in short bursts.

    5. File

    No one likes to do this. If you’re on top of your game, you’re filing stuff immediately, so it doesn’t pile up.

    But if you’ve just come off a really busy spurt, you may have a bunch of documents or files laying around.

    Or maybe you have a big stack of stuff to file. Cut into that stack with every little bit of spare time you get, and soon you’ll be in filing Nirvana.

    6. Network

    Only have 2 minutes? Shoot off a quick email to a colleague. Even just a “touching bases” or follow-up email can do wonders for your working relationship. Or shoot off a quick question, and put it on your follow-up list for later.

    Advertising

    7. Clear out Feeds

    If my email inbox is empty, and I have some spare time, I like to go to my Google Reader and clear out my feed inbox.

    8. Goal Time

    Take 10 minutes to think about your goals — personal and professional.

    If you don’t have a list of goals, start on one. If you’ve got a list of goals, review them.

    Write down a list of action steps you can take over the next couple of weeks to make these goals a reality. What action step can you do today? The more you focus on these goals, and review them, the more likely they will come true.

    9. Update Finances

    Many people fall behind with their finances, either in paying bills (they don’t have time), or entering transactions in their financial software, or clearing their checkbook, or reviewing their budget.

    Take a few minutes to update these things. It just takes 10 to 15 minutes every now and then.

    10. Brainstorm Ideas

    Another favorite of mine if I just have 5 minutes — I’ll break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

    11. Clear off Desk

    Similar to the filing tip above, but this applies to whatever junk you’ve got cluttering up your desk. Or on the floor around your desk.

    Advertising

    Trash stuff, file stuff, put it in its place. A clear desk makes for a more productive you. And it’s oddly satisfying.

    12. Exercise

    Never have time to exercise? 10 minutes is enough to get off some pushups and crunches. Do that 2 to 3 times a day, and you’ve got a fit new you.

    13. Take a Walk

    This is another form of exercise that doesn’t take long, and you can do it anywhere. Even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long.

    It also gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

    14. Follow up

    Keep a follow-up list for everything you’re waiting on. Return calls, emails, memos — anything that someone owes you, put on the list.

    When you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, do some follow-up calls or emails.

    15. Meditate

    You don’t need a yoga mat to do this. Just do it at your desk. Focus on your breathing. A quick 5 to 10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

    Take a look at this 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

    Advertising

    16. Research

    This is a daunting task for me. So I do it in little spurts.

    If I’ve only got a few minutes, I’ll do some quick research and take some notes. Do this a few times, and I’m done!

    17. Outline

    Similar to brainstorming, but more formal. I like to do an outline of a complicated article, report or project, and it helps speed things along when I get to the actual writing. And it only takes a few minutes.

    18. Get Prepped

    Outlining is one way to prep for longer work, but there’s a lot of other ways you can prep for the next task on your list.

    You may not have time to actually start on the task right now, but when you come back from your meeting or lunch, you’ll be all prepped and ready to go.

    19. Be Early

    Got some spare time before a meeting? Show up for the meeting early.

    Sure, you might feel like a chump sitting there alone, but actually people respect those who show up early. It’s better than being late (unless you’re trying to play a power trip or something, but that’s not appreciated in many circles).

    20. Log

    If you keep a log of anything, a few spare minutes is the perfect time to update the log.

    Actually, the perfect time to update the log is right after you do the activity (exercise, eat, crank a widget), but if you didn’t have time to do it before, your 5-minute break is as good a time as any.

    More Inspirations on What To Do During Free Time

    Featured photo credit: Lauren Mancke via unsplash.com

    Read Next