Many people have told me they’d like to meditate more regularly, but they just find it “too difficult.” The reasons vary as to why people believe meditation is hard. For instance, perhaps they find themselves getting easily bored …
One of the most common concerns I hear from people I work with is that, when they’re trying to focus on a project at work, they find themselves worrying that what they’re doing won’t get them any meaningful results.
For example, perhaps they’re writing an article, and they find themselves worrying that no one will read it. Maybe they’re concerned that the marketing strategy they’re working on won’t create sales. Or perhaps they just keep getting the nagging feeling that there’s something more important they could be doing.
Usually, to get rid of this anxiety, people switch tasks, jumping from drafting that presentation to writing that long e-mail. Yet somehow, shortly after they start their new task, they often find the same worry arising. So, they move to yet another project.
In this post, I’ll talk about how dropping our efforts to please others with the way we look and act can actually help us get more done and find more joy in our work.
As you know, most of us work in environments where other people are around — whether we’re in an office, on our laptops in a café, or somewhere else.
When others are around, many of us start getting concerned about what those people think of us. To manage this anxiety, we start talking and behaving in ways we think will make the “right impression.”
We often read in productivity literature that we’ll be able to accomplish whatever we want, once we take any potential distractions out of our workspace — by disconnecting the internet and phone, putting the TV in another room, and so on.
But there’s something this approach doesn’t deal with. Even if we remove every possible distraction from our environment, we’ll still be left with our own minds. Even if we can’t flee from work by surfing the internet, we can always run away by daydreaming, reminiscing, making up worst-case scenarios about what the boss is going to say, and so on.
In other words, if we find it hard to focus on a single task for a long time, just rearranging our work environment won’t help much. This is why I think it’s important to practice holding our attention.
In this post, I’ll offer a perspective on procrastination, and an approach to dealing with it, that you probably haven’t heard before.
Often, in my experience, we put off working on a project because we know making progress in our task will force us to face some part of ourselves — some aspect of our personalities — we aren’t fully okay with.
Once, I worked with an accountant who was constantly anxious about turning in reports to her boss, because he tended to make comments she found abrasive. When we explored this further, we discovered that, when her boss was critical, she felt angry. And she was frightened by that feeling — that roiling, fiery energy that came up in her solar plexus.
It’s become a truism in productivity literature that we shouldn’t multitask. Constantly switching between projects, we’re told, wastes time, because we need to reorient ourselves whenever we change tasks.
In working with clients on productivity issues, I’ve noticed that, although some people understand intellectually that multitasking is bad, they have trouble kicking the habit. As hard as they try to zero in on a single project, they find their attention constantly jumping around — from writing that e-mail, to coding that computer program, to folding their socks, and so on.
In other words, for these people, multitasking isn’t really a choice — it’s more like something that happens to them. But why?
In this post, I’ll talk about something that doesn’t seem to make sense. Why is it that, when we’re working on a project that’s deeply important to us, we tend to procrastinate the most?
I’m sure you’ve experienced this while doing a task that seemed “make or break” to you. Maybe it was a project that was for an important client or worth a lot of money. Maybe it was a paper you were writing for school that was worth a big part of your grade. Whatever it was, I’ll bet you noticed yourself putting it off more often than your usual chores.
Most productivity literature is about tips for organizing our workspace — creative ways to arrange our e-mail inbox, write to-do lists, color-code our folders, and so on. These can be useful, but they leave a big question unanswered: how can we find the focus and motivation to put these tricks into practice? In other words, how do we stop putting off getting organized?
In my experience working with clients looking for efficiency and enjoyment in their work, what I’ve found is that, to really get what we want out of what we do, the first step is to take a close look at what we’re avoiding.
While we’re working, we often get so absorbed in our projects that we forget about our breathing. When this happens, particularly when we’re under stress, we can lapse into restricted breathing—inhaling in short gasps, or shallowly into the upper chest. What we don’t often realize is that how we breathe can deeply affect our efficiency and enjoyment in what we do. In this post, I’ll offer three breathing techniques to help you stay focused and peaceful as you work.
Productivity writers often tell us to resist the urge to put off our work, but they usually don’t offer much practical advice on how to do that. In my experience working with people on productivity issues, we often procrastinate when an uncomfortable thought or sensation— anxiety or anger, for instance—comes up as we’re working, and we’d rather not experience it. We need, I think, some way to stay centered even when faced with those intense thoughts and feelings.