Life is demanding. You are simultaneously being pulled in several different directions that can create a high level of stress and a low level of accomplishment. Whether you have a minute or an hour to replenish, these five strategies will help you to refocus, re-energize and win the day.
Take a couple of minutes to concentrate on your surroundings. Listen to the various sounds. Close your eyes and form a picture in your mind’s eye. Pan and zoom around your environment, focusing on the actions associated with the individual patches of activity, then collectively like a symphony. Take in the details and use your imagination to create a vivid picture. Consider that everyone and everything is in the same moment, yet the experiences are all so different. Do this for three to five minutes and you will be more atune to the work in front of you.
When you wash your hands, when you make a cup of coffee, when you’re waiting for the elevator – instead of indulging in thinking, these are all opportunities for being there as a still, alert presence. – Eckhart Tolle
Take a catnap
When you feel that you have no more solutions or the distractions start to creep in after less and less productive time, it is time for a nap. Even the shortest of naps can leave you feeling refreshed and ready for action. I usually set my timer for five or ten minutes. That is enough time to create a disconnect between where you are mentally and what lies ahead, allowing you to completely change the way you perceive the situation when you return to it.
There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled. – Ovid
Reset your plan
Take inventory of what you have accomplished, the tasks that are in progress, and what is left to do. Then create a new plan of attack for the rest of your day. You may find priorities have changed, and it is better to reassign some work to other days or even look for ways to delegate it. Reprioritizing will help you to utilize your time more effectively, allowing you to concentrate on the 20% of work that gets you 80% of the results.
Your job, as a professional, is to transform big assignments into smaller achievable pieces, prioritize them, then get them done at a high level.
This strategy creates a sense of accomplishment, and you can feel that you are making real progress, no matter how small. Take five minutes to think about what you have accomplished so far today. Next, ask your self these questions and, if possible, document your answers so that you can look at them later as part of a bigger picture.
- What have you crossed off your list?
- For the tasks you haven’t, how much progress have you made?
- How much is left to do?
- What went well?
- What could you have done better?
Then, regardless of the results, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
Take some me time to refocus
Get up out of the chair and look out the window or across the room. Changing your focus and point of view reduces eyestrain. It also helps you to push the mental reset button, clearing your mind, and providing a new context for old problems.
Wherever you work and whatever you do, using these techniques will help you to digest what you have been working on and enhance your mental alertness. That will help you to get things done faster and more effectively than grinding. So, the next time you are looking for the solutions to a challenging problem, clear those mental hurdles by pushing the reset button with one of these techniques.