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It's the Thought That Counts! Productivity Series Part 3

It's the Thought That Counts! Productivity Series Part 3

By Heather Payette

In the second part of this productivity series, I shared tips from 免费下载抖阴鈥檚 Caffeine and Productivity SIG for physical activities that can help you focus at work. From stepping away from your desk for lunch or a walk to protecting your sleep time and desk stretches, there are many ways you can trick your body into being productive.

In the final segment of my three-part series, after previously discussing how you can use technological and physical productivity tools, I will leave you with some mental productivity methods to think about. With the following 5 thought activities (and the previous blog installments), you will now have technological, physical, and mental tools to keep you at the top of your productivity game.

Top 5 Thought Activities to Keep You Focused at Work

Set SMART goals.

We touched on this idea in the last blog post with the idea of tracking your progress, but I wanted to expand on that, as tracking your progress is not the same as setting expectations for yourself. Setting attainable goals will help you feel motivated while working towards them and then accomplished when achieving them. Aim for setting  goals, which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, allowing for attainable, thoughtful actions you can take to meet expectations for yourself and your role.

I suggest avoiding a VAPID (vague, amorphous, pie-in-the-sky, irrelevant, delayed) goal.  Created by author Randy J. Paterson, PhD, these goals are usually unclear and can be completely unattainable, have little value to you or your role, and have no time frame.

Avoid procrastination.

This might be easier said than done, and I am guilty of procrastinating as well. One way to avoid procrastination is by setting deadlines and breaking down tasks in a way that answers questions, such as

  • Who should you contact?
  • What materials are needed to complete this task?
  • What is the deadline?

The more specific questions you can ask and answer about your goals for the task, the better. This also allows you to get over the hump of delaying a project because you are having trouble knowing where to start. Another way to avoid procrastination and create momentum is to begin a project at whichever phase you find the most interesting. It鈥檚 not always necessary to start at the beginning.

Change your thinking.

Don鈥檛 dwell on the negative when a project isn鈥檛 progressing as you would like. When projects aren鈥檛 going well you may have a tendency to continue to expect that negative results will occur based on previous experiences. One way to avoid negative thinking is through cognitive restructuring, a psychotherapeutic process of learning to identify irrational or maladaptive thoughts known as cognitive distortions (e.g., all-or-nothing thinking, over-generalization, and emotional reasoning).

suggests the best way to apply this thinking is to reframe your thoughts by calming yourself, identifying the situation, analyzing your mood, and identifying automatic thoughts. After you complete those steps, you force yourself to reframe your thinking.

An example of reframing would be having an immediate reaction of, 鈥淭his will never work,鈥 applying the aforementioned steps to reach a thought conclusion of 鈥淲e haven鈥檛 tried XYZ yet, maybe that will help fix this problem.鈥 Another example would be, 鈥淚 can鈥檛 believe she missed this deadline again,鈥 to 鈥淚 know she had unscheduled PTO 3 times last week, so I will check to see if she鈥檚 OK and  has a solution for how we can finalize this project.鈥

Meditate for 5 minutes.

Meditation sometimes has a connotation of being ineffective or silly, but it really is what you make of it. Meditation can be as simple as listening to your breath, finding a comfortable seat, and turning off all electronic devices. It can also involve a personal 鈥渕antra鈥 or phrase of what you want your day to look like, such as 鈥淚 will have a calm day鈥 and thinking about what that means while breathing in and out. We have talked about breathing exercises during a 鈥淪tress and Productivity鈥 lecture in our Caffeine and Productivity meeting here at 免费下载抖阴, and I wanted to share a few here:

: 鈥淓qual Breaths鈥

  • Through the nose, inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of four.

The beauty of 鈥渆qual breaths鈥 is that it鈥檚 an incredibly discreet exercise, making it perfect for tense moments in front of others, such as during conflict with colleagues or when a surprise project has just been mentioned during a meeting.

Abdominal Breathing

  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates.
  • Shoot for six to 10 deep breaths per minute for 10 minutes.

With abdominal breathing, you know your diaphragm is opening up when your entire belly moves. People often don鈥檛 breathe this way, so if you鈥檙e struggling to inhale deeply enough, I suggest practicing at home. Lay down in a comfortable position so your breathing naturally will be slower and deeper, and keep a hand on your belly to ensure that it鈥檚 moving. Please note: you鈥檙e likely to feel a bit of a head rush practicing these kinds of breathing exercises, but if you feel dizzy or uncomfortable, adjust the counts to what makes you feel most comfortable.

Focus on your 鈥渨hy.鈥

At the start of each day, ask yourself what you like about your work for the day. What do you want to learn for the day? What are you looking forward to? , president of the San Diego-based leadership coaching firm Extreme Leadership, suggests, 鈥淚f you see your work as meaningful, you鈥檒l work harder and be more productive as a result. At the start of the day, ask yourself what value you create for your colleagues or customers. Answering this question for yourself will have an immediate, positive effect on your mindset and personal energy.鈥 If it helps, you can write your answers down each morning and reference them throughout the day.

In conclusion

And with that, this blog series ends, but I hope your learning and productivity continues! I challenge you to use some of these resources in your daily routine, and if you鈥檝e found this installment helpful, I challenge you to share it with your team!

Heather Payette is a Content Marketing Associate and serves as the co-chair of 免费下载抖阴鈥檚 Caffeine and Productivity SIG

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