Welcome to the second installment in the Colorado AMA’s Rejuvenate blog series. Intended to help busy professionals maintain personal balance and peace, this month we’re going to help you quiet the voice in your head and become more productive.
In order to get out of your head, you first have to have the awareness that you’re stuck in there to begin with. Creative thought and reasoning have their place. I’m referring to thinking that goes in circles, distracts you from what’s really important or leaves you agitated. Some common examples are: guilt, comparing yourself to someone, thinking you can guess an outcome or playing out a story in your head about something that may (or may not) happen in the future.
Do you check in with yourself on a regular basis to take stock of your emotions and thoughts? If not, give it a try.
Right now, take this moment to look around at your surroundings while breathing deeply. Allow the details of what you see to be your only thoughts.
When you notice that the chatter in your head has hijacked you again, do something physical. Anything. This will refocus and ground you. I find that I’m far more productive when I’m calm.
Here are some other suggestions to quiet your mind and be more effective:
See how completely you can drop into the present moment. Practice being fully present with a co-worker or if you’re alone at home, a pet. Go for a mid-afternoon decaf with a trusted colleague.
Start writing that deliverable you’re committed to and have been putting off. Jot down some ideas or start creating an outline. Don’t worry about the details. Come back later and refine.
Work first on the task you least want to do. Accomplishments build upon one another, regardless of their relative size or impact.
Find a way to burn off pent up nervous energy. If you work at home, what does the top of your stove look like? If Grease Monkey were a real creature, could you swear he’s been lurking in your kitchen with a spray bottle? Make these activities part of the sporadic 10 – 15 minute breaks you take during your day. If you work in an office and the weather is cooperating, a walk around the building can do wonders. Often that’s when I think of solutions to problems I need to work out.
Breathe deeply. Often.
Choose one task at a time and spend 20 minutes to an hour of focused time on it. Close down Outlook. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb. Setting a time limit for a specific task can relieve what may feel like a burden.
Schedule that meeting you’ve been procrastinating over and start writing the agenda.
Plan an activity to look forward to as a reward at the end of the day. Chocolate, tea, Netflix.
Exercise. Escape to the gym at lunch or plan a run with a friend.
Admit to someone that you’re stuck in your head. The best way to dispel something is to name it out loud.
Refer to last month’s Rejuvenate installment, Helping Others. Giving someone else encouragement or just listening to them will take your attention off yourself.
Thanks for checking in on Rejuvenate this month. Look for the next installment on the last Wednesday of each month.
By Mark Leach, VP of Content Strategy, Colorado AMA Board of Directors. Mark is also Marketing Strategist at www.innatemarketing.com, a Colorado based marketing firm serving startups and bootstrapped businesses.