Most people have too much to handle and not enough time to get it all done or to be able to fulfil their commitments. People add to their stress levels by taking on more than they can handle. Various options and opportunities bring with them the pressures of decision making. These pressures make people frustrated about how to improve their situation. By learning productivity you can organise and prioritise better and you can get your time back so you can focus on making progress and helps you improve your situation.
Planning and scheduling your tasks helps you gain more focus. In the process, you can create a positive work atmosphere and lifestyle practices that foster clarity, control, creativity and relaxation.
Better organisational techniques like planning and preparing can enhance your productivity levels. Thinking in more effective ways to handle different work situations can make things happen sooner, better and more successfully.
There is no single technique or tool to perfect organisation and productivity. However, there are certain simple processes that we can all learn to use that will improve our ability to deal more proactively and constructively. These tools can help you focus your energies strategically to create better thinking habits and working environment which otherwise keeps most people from burning out due to stress.
It is possible for you to have an overwhelming number of things to do and still function productively and be fully present in the moment.
Here are some simple practices which can motivate you to become more productive.
Figuring out ‘why’
Why do you want to be more productive? Why are you putting up with a situation in your workplace? Do you want to be better at your job or do you want to get more things done and do more with your time?
Until you have the answer to your ‘why’, there is no possible way to come up with appropriate actions.
By having an answer to your why has following benefits:
• You can define success.
• You can make hard choices and take decisions.
• You can gather possible resources.
• You can be motivated and can have better focus.
Many people forget why they are doing something and what exactly they are trying to achieve – and a simple question like, “ Why am I doing that?” Can get you back on track. Finding the answer to your ‘why’ opens up wider possibilities and expands your thinking.
Figure out your purpose
All of us want to be better at what we are doing. So the main goal should be to find your purpose. To know and to be clear about the purpose can enhance your focus. Because it is easy to get caught up and let your real and primary intentions slip. Your purpose becomes a reference point for your time and energy spent.
Once you have the purpose defined, you can align your resources and can make your decision-making easier. Often the only way to make hard choices is to come back to the purpose of what you are doing. Just taking two minutes and writing your primary reason for doing something makes things clearer and clarifies your focus.
Find your time leaks
Doing things that bring you progress, getting better at your work, investing in compound time to develop your skills, and picking up healthy habits make you productive. Find out where your time is leaking in the process. Think of your top priorities and determine those activities that help you achieve or take you closer to your goals. That is your meaningful work. The rest are meaningless activities that steal your time.
Focus on what matters to optimise your efforts and where to allocate your time more efficiently. Being aware of all the activities that bring you closer to your goal and being aware of the ones that stall your progress help you get your time back.
Create and stick to your to-do list
Organise your daily tasks in order to get things done. Don’t get carried away by writing too long to-do lists. Being busy is not the same as being productive. Overloading your lists is not an effective to-do list format. If you always start with the easiest or most convenient ideas, you will end up pushing the best ones down the list.
Make sure that your to-do list has a purpose and other meaningful activities. Define your tasks related to your goals and order them by importance. If you do not manage to finish them all, move unfinished tasks to your list for the next day. Rinse and repeat. If you carry some tasks on for too many days in a row without working on them, get rid of those tasks completely.
Declutter & Prioritise
Decluttering your routine lets you devote your time to meaningful work. Write down your distractions and find multiple solutions to reduce them. For each distraction, figure out as many solutions until you find the one that works.
Prioritise your tasks according to your goals and choose those that most benefit your purpose.
It will be difficult to cut down your priorities when you have more on your plate to do than you can comfortably handle. Prioritise on the basis of your long term and short term goals, accountabilities, values, areas of focus and current projects. Combine the things you want to do with things you should do.
Get your routine done
It is very easy to start a task you want to do. But what about those tasks you have absolutely no motivation to do? The ones you procrastinate far too long over and never get around to doing? Putting off important tasks can rob your hours of achievement and can become a chronic cycle.
Slacking off and doing unimportant tasks, putting off other tasks makes you habituated to the same process. Then, the loop continues to repeat. You are avoiding the task either because you are not organised or because you are prioritising low value work. To avoid procrastination, identify what you are putting off and do those tasks right away. If getting started is the hardest part, set a designated time slot to do the task.
The majority of us fail at building life-changing habits because we start strong and give up easily. You need to put effort into accomplishing your goal. Even he tiniest of efforts, when consistently done, brings good results.
Figure out which skill to work upon in order to reach your goal and the task you need to do everyday. Once you have zeroed in on the skill and activity, mark the days you will be working on it and focus on growing your progress on the same. Do not break the chain of progress so that you become consistent with your talent/ skill.
Use your gap time productively
Gap times occur between meaningful activities. Optimise your gap time so you can further develop the skill you need to make you productive. Gap times are small breaks in your schedule or at work, or when you are on long breaks from your work.
Be as strategic about your breaks as you are about your day in general. To use your gap times productively, think about small projects you can accomplish like learning something new, planning your week/day, cleaning up or even working on your other ideas.
Finally, Stay focused.
Think about the last time you felt highly productive. You probably had a sense of being in control without too much stress. You were probably highly focused on what you were doing and you felt you were making progress.
Next time around if you get far out of that state—and start to feel out of control, stressed out , unfocused and bored—get yourself back into your “productive state.” Hopefully the above methods can inspire you to become more productive and work towards attaining your goals.
“There isn’t enough room in your mind for both worry and faith. You must decide which one will live here.”
Worry is something we all experience from time to time while some have a habit of worrying more than others. What sets worry apart from other emotional states is the extent it pollutes the emotional atmosphere around us. This emotional state can release negativity and stress-inducing vibes that negatively impact our lives. When we worry, we feel irritable, grumpy, cranky and on edge. Our tolerance gets lower and we are much more likely to be bothered by minor frustrations which we ordinarily shrug off. It surges our stress hormones and makes us sensitive and reactive to everything with a threat in sight. Worrying seriously effects your personal growth. It is self limiting and sometimes holds you back from taking up life changing opportunities.
What is worry?
Reduced to its simplest form, it is simply an unhealthy and destructive mental habit. The destructive quality of worry is further indicated by the fact that the word itself is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to choke”! It is like what you do to yourself by long-held and habitual worry. Studies reveal that many cases of illnesses are brought on directly by fear, aggravated by worry and a feeling of insecurity.
How to manage your worry
Worries fall into number of domains like health, work, finances, fear of future, lack of confidence or a myriad of other issues.
Worrying most of the times is unnecessary and doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t change things and certainly doesn’t fix them. It only increases your stress and makes things seem worse than they already are.
We tend to acquire worry as a habit. As we can change any habit and acquired attitudes, we can be free of this habit too.
A direct action is essential to eliminate any undesired habit. So is to break the worry as a habit. Here are few ways to break worry as a habit.
Figure out the source
The best way to reduce worry is to figure out what is making you worrisome. Consider what might have caused the worry. Most of the times the issue that triggered the worry might be simple. It is often simple things that cause worry and the solutions can be sort out. Reflect upon things and disengage from the possible causes. Be honest with yourself about what is bothering you. Simply acknowledging can make you come out with plausible solutions. Don’t concern yourself with things you can’t do anything about.
Be conscious of worry thought patterns
Worry most of the times is illusionary. It creates “What-if” scenario or a scenario that doesn’t even exists. This false scenario is created with no clear explanation about how or what might happen. One reason we get worrier is that we saturate our minds with apprehension thoughts and gloomy thoughts. Most of the times we worry about things that never actually happen. It is important to address this worry thinking pattern. When a worrying thought arises, simply be conscious and aware of it, question how far it is true and then deal with it. Don’t fall prey to worry’s false scenario. Replace them with positive and faith producing thoughts. After you have done your best to deal with a situation, avoid speculating the outcome and go on to the next thing.
Avoid complicated thinking
“worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”- Swedish Proverb
If your mind is too full of complicated ideas, take a moment to clear them out. Live with simple and positive attitude. Your distrust of others, doubts, or being emotional or trapped by inferiority complex may be the causes of your worry. Everyday many things happen that could be either seeds of happiness or seeds of trouble and anxiety. Try to keep rolling without worrying or dwelling too much over the tiny problems or disappointments. Think of the problems as opportunities for action.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Many worry that they are not clever or luckier in comparison with others. Some rate their own abilities too high. They feel that they could have done better than they are doing now, but in actual fact they are unable to keep up. The pain of jealousy and discontentment can become the cause of worry. As long as they compare themselves to others, they will not ultimately be winners. Their struggle for primacy becomes their worry. Rather than worrying being better than others, it is better to look at your own efforts. Evaluate yourself by reflecting and refining your own abilities. Evaluate yourself by assessing the growth and progress you made compared to an earlier period from your life.
Embrace your weaknesses and shortcomings
Many worry that they lack intelligence or other qualifications and abilities. Intelligence does not necessarily lead to success. You should not end up regarding them as absolutes. If you feel you are lacking in one area, you will find that you are gifted in some other field. People bemoan their lack of innate ability. If you worry about your innate ability, just remember in the final reckoning it is the amount you were able to grow, your rate of development, and the degree to which you exerted yourself that matters. Accept imperfections and focus on improvement.
Free yourself from expectations
Most of your worry springs from not being able to get what you wanted. This might be the pain of not being loved by others or of not being appreciated. The reason is that we cannot change the way others think and feel about you and if we focus on this too much it results in worry and frustration is born being unable to achieve the desired appreciation. It is you yourself who create your own worry by craving recognition and expecting others to acknowledge. If you have this tendency, make an effort to overcome it and practice self-appreciation and self-love.
Worrying involves a negative state of mind and curbs your further potential. A lack of something, be it a relationship, confidence, self respect, happiness, career, or money causes discontentment and dissatisfaction. Focusing on what you lack is a major cause of worry for many. Gratitude creates positive state of mind and reduces worry. Do not take things you have for granted. Next time when you feel stressed about what you lack, be thankful for what you have and the things that are going well in your life.
Face your fears
The process of mind drainage is important in overcoming worry and fear thoughts, unless drained off, can clog the mind. Fear is just a comfort zone which needs to be broken. It is just a self limiting thought. Many of us paint scenarios about what could happen and what could go wrong. Each time you face the fear, the comfort zone is broken and you can come out of this negative state of mind. Fill your mind with thoughts of faith, hope and courage. You became a worrier by practicing worry. You can become free of it by practicing the opposite.
Finally, If you are worrying about something right now, take action by doing what you need to do to stop worrying. Shift your focus onto your goals and your purpose. We usually worry about things about future and often simple things. Remind yourself of the larger picture and things for which you can be grateful and reflect on your abilities and achievements.
Follow these simple steps to break your worry habit and you will start to see change.
“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles..by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”- Mark Twain
Each one of us wants to achieve our cherished goals or those which we think are within our reach. We are constantly running after them and other things which we think will make us happier. We end up stressful and discontent with our present state of existence and want to get rid of anything that limits us. Inspite of our ceaseless efforts, the peace,happiness and contentment constantly eludes most of us.
Well-being is accessible to each one of us and our thoughts and emotions are messengers of our inner state of well-being and the key to understand them is by gaining awareness.
Meditation readies us to deal with our thoughts. It helps you gain awareness, teaches you to observe, identify and respond to these underlying emotions and thoughts in a constructive way, rather than recoil or react impulsively.
Making meditation a way of life allows you to see each thought as a messenger with information on how to respond in a way that helps you feel in harmony with yourself and world around you. Your negative notions start to fade, instead of chasing you and wearing you down.
Essence of Meditation
Meditation is a simple practice that requires commitment to stay fully aware of the present moment. Welcoming each moment keeps you connected with yourself and others. In fact, the essence of mindfulness of meditation is paying attention. In every day life we rarely pay full attention to anything, whereas if we set aside a time for meditation, you commit yourself in paying full attention.
By paying attention to the present moment, you can understand the mechanics of the mind. The present moment is sometimes unacceptable and unpleasant. Because of this many of us experience a kind of resistance during the meditation process. This resistance is born out of our inability to accept the moment as it is. A state of well-being cannot be achieved by suppressing all thoughts and emotions. It can be achieved by becoming mindful of everything that arises in your awareness and by observing and accepting thoughts, emotions and physical sensations as they arise without judgment or expectation. This process helps you to step out of your resistance patterns.
Staying connected to your experiences helps you to acknowledge your unchanging inner self which can be tapped into anywhere and anytime.
Here are some insights that you can include in your meditation practices. Each of these insights can be practiced individually or you can apply them all together, sequentially into your meditation practice.
Set firm intentions
Meditating with right intentions develops focus, determination, patience, and perseverance. Intentions are agreements you make with yourself and then express through your actions in your daily activities. if you don’t set firm intentions, you will eventually find yourself wandering and might lose sight of the reason you are meditating.
Intentions set can be small or large. Aim is to discover your genuine intentions and affirm those with certainty in your meditation practice. Express each intention in small phrases in present tense as if it is true. This enables your subconscious mind to register them as actualities. Resolutely follow and affirm your intentions for they enable you to overcome all trials and suffering.
Tap into the feeling of being
Everyday distractions keeps you away from experiencing the joy of simply being. Practice meditation not to become whole, but to connect to your existing wholeness. Realise that wholeness is your birth right and you are more than a limited individual.
Just being is a familiar feeling that you have always known, although you may have ignored it until now. Notice how, when you are simply being, you are perfect just as you are. Affirm your intention to experience the feeling of being. With a regular practice, you can learn to connect to your existing wholeness amidst your daily life. During the practice, simply experience the presence and aliveness of being. Staying focused on the sensation of being slows your thinking and eventually turns off negative thoughts.
Connect to something bigger
Meditation helps us to get in touch with universal life force that connects us all. During the practice learn to align with this force. This connection with bigger force results in a state of well-being. With an expansive mind, you are not narrowly focused on how things should be and on other small desires, but will be able to see those as part of bigger picture.
Connecting to and experiencing the universal life force enhances concentration and your present opens up to infinite possibilities. This enables you to interact and respond rather than contract and react. The expansiveness of mind gives a meaning and purpose to your life.
Practice mindful breathing
Taking hold of your breath builds concentration. Meditating on your breathing is a natural and extremely effective tool to prevent dispersion and enables you to release obsessive thinking. Observing and following breath exhalations and inhalations enhances your ability to sense and respond to the information your body is sending.
Awareness of your breathing patterns allows you to make changes where required to maintain equilibrium. You can continue to do so while walking, sitting or when you are outdoors. You can also practice to count your number of inhalations and exhalations to develop focused attention and concentration. When you recognise you are distracted, gently bring back your attention back to your breath. Breath-counting helps you to maintain a single- pointed focus.
Meditating on your feelings and thoughts makes you stay calm, grounded, and healthy. There can be many disharmonious, negative, and disturbing thoughts that arise during the process. Meditate focusing on them. When such strong feelings arise, refusing to accept and labelling them as enemies will only make them come back more strongly as if they are here to convey important information.
You need to welcome and experience emotions both negative and positive. Know that they are not your enemies but are just seeking your attention. Learn to observe and respond instead of reacting. By focusing on every thought and its opposite, anxiety, fear, and self- judgements no longer control your life. You can no longer remain a hostage to your negative emotions.
Welcome feelings of joy
Joy is an essential emotion which is already within us, waiting to be experienced no matter what the outside circumstances may be. But many of us believe that it only comes by material possessions or achieving a particular outcome. We keep searching for it outside in objects, relationships, and other experiences. When you deny the feelings of joy which is a natural phenomenon, you lose life’s meaning and its purpose.
During meditation, welcoming the feelings of joy also brings with them its opposite. Experiencing both joy and its opposite makes you realise how stressful the opposite is and how it affects your body and mind. When it feels right, release the stressful thought and let joy radiate through you. This can unearth unchanging feelings of joy irrespective of the circumstances thereby reducing the perceptions of pain, anxiety, and depression.
Contemplate on interdependence
Meditating on the interdependent nature the universe makes you realise that everything is a part of an interconnected wholeness. We normally see reality in compartments and make boundaries around ourselves. Because of this we are unable to see the interdependent nature of the world we live in. We are connected and not separate in our suffering and in our desire to be happy.
When you live the sufferings and joy of others, you start to realise the impermanence of the universe and can strengthen the positive emotions of gratitude and compassion. Experience yourself as a unique expression of life, interconnected with the Universe.
Finally, Regular practice of meditation helps you to attain an ideal state of mind. A well disciplined and controlled mind is necessary for various aspects of well-being. Nourish your intention of making meditation a daily practice.
Nourish your intention to make the practice of meditation your own. Be patient with yourself and perseverant and you will be able to notice small changes right away.