I’m sure you’ll agree that our lives have drastically changed since the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic. Who could have predicted how we would skip our morning commutes to the office, how our homes would become our workplaces, and how spending so much time at home would affect our productivity levels? I’m here to reassure you you’re not alone; we’re in this together.
While improving your productivity is the overarching topic of this article, we’ll be unpacking nine mindful ways to do this that emphasize your wellbeing above all.
Set up a mindful morning routine
Starting your day off with mindfulness can help you gain some control of your time, energy, and mental state before the rush of the day begins. Mornings have the potential to set the tone for your day. And since we only have a finite amount of energy and time, it’s important to start the day with purpose in mind. What are your morning habits? Do you check your phone first thing in the morning? While it may tempt you to catch up on your messages and notifications upon waking, Dr Nikole Benders-Hadi tells Elite Daily that this habit elevates our stress levels and inhibits our ability to prioritize our tasks for the day. In other words, our brains become distracted from the get-go when we entertain this habit. To combat early morning jitters, begin your day with something mindful. This can be as simple as a morning stretch, or more complex, like a meditation, or a workout. The important thing is to find a morning routine that will support your mind early in your day.
Plan out your day
What’s your game plan? Does every day look the same or does your schedule change? No matter your schedule, it’s essential to have a system that helps you stay on top of your game. Making a note of what you plan to work on for that day can help you stay focused on the tasks ahead. As one productivity coach puts it, “Writing things down helps clarify your goals, priorities, and intentions.” Do you know what to focus on each day when you start working? Writing out your tasks can help you stay organized and cognizant of what you want to achieve. It isn’t necessary to write everything down, but keeping a list of your priorities visually in front of you can help you focus on what you need to do for the day. Some people prefer writing out their to-do lists the night before, and some prefer doing it in the morning, it’s entirely up to you! Having a clear intention on what you want to accomplish during your day helps you stay mindfully productive.
Set aside time to eat
Have you ever felt like you have so little time to eat that you either skip a meal entirely or you eat while you work? It may feel tempting to eat in front of our screens, but indulging in this habit encourages mindless eating. Mindless eating is when we eat without fully engaging with the eating process itself. It’s what causes us to unknowingly rush while we eat or not chew our food properly, leading to indigestion as well as other health issues. Eating in this way can cause us to eat more without realizing when we’re full. Mindful eating is about slowing down to focus your entire attention on the food you’re eating. Not only does this help our bodies absorb the nutrients from our food, but it also allows us to enjoy our food more. Paying attention to what you eat gives you the energy and sustenance you need to become more productive. It’s a win-win! So slow down during mealtimes and give yourself ample time to enjoy a mindful meal.
Keep your environment clean and organized
A cluttered environment can be a distraction from completing our tasks with the undivided attention they deserve. Messy spaces have the potential to distract our focus from our work, making us more vulnerable to stress and mental health issues. Research also shows the existing relationship between clutter and eating behavior. Environments that are characterized as chaotic can lead to unhealthy food choices. This shows the impact of how cluttered spaces can influence our state of mind. The antidote is simply to keep our spaces clean, especially now that we’re spending more time at home. The good news is that cleaning your space has a major up-side. Are you looking for time to squeeze in a workout? Well, cleaning keeps your body moving and your body fit! What’s more is that you can infuse mindfulness into your cleaning rituals by staying present while you dust, sweep, and vacuum. The more organized and clean your space is, the more focus you’ll be able to give to your daily tasks.
Eliminate distractions to improve productivity
Creating a no distraction zone for your home/work environment is imperative for your productivity. The most common distraction is — you guessed it — your phone. Notifications — from the apps on our phones to the emails on our laptops — seem ubiquitous. In cases like this, a little disciple goes a long way. This could mean putting your phone out of sight or on silent, and disabling pop-up notifications on your various other devices. And I’m sure you’re well aware of what happens when you’re busy working on something and suddenly your phone buzzes. It disrupts your flow and your productivity. Creating an ideal work environment free of distraction is an opportunity to practice mindfulness as you engage in your work. By bringing mindfulness into your work, you’ll be able to achieve better flow and productivity, and you’ll be able to derive a satisfying sense of purpose from everything you accomplish.
Take mindful breaks
While it may seem unproductive to take frequent breaks from your tasks, a healthy distraction from your work can counterintuitively give your productivity a boost. What’s more conducive to your productivity than staying focused 100% of the time is taking scheduled breaks throughout your day. This can consist of micro-breaks alongside longer breaks. Researchers could also detect that temporary breaks away from workers’ computers that included stretching can improve productivity and wellbeing. Uninterrupted focus and mindful breaks both impact your productivity levels and come with some added benefits. This includes improving your creativity, motivation, mental health, and so much more. Which activities would you like to schedule into your break? Is it listening to music and dancing in your kitchen, a high-intensity workout, or playing with your dog? Pick your favorite distraction and take a well-deserved mindful break.
Separate your work and personal life
For many of us who are currently working from home, this one isn’t easy to do, especially when your home space has become an office space. Separating work life and personal life is especially difficult when we have important deadlines to meet. But when you’re prioritizing your mental health and work-life balance, it’s important to set boundaries. It isn’t always easy to finish at around the same time every day, but one way we can achieve this is by scheduling something important directly after your workday. It can be a call with a family member, a dinner date with your partner, or even an online yoga class. Make sure that when your workday is over, you put your laptop and workstation out of sight. Light some candles, and move things around in your home so that it transforms from a workspace into a home. What do you do to wind down after your workday?
Self-care looks different for every person and can include a range of activities that support you during your day. But what exactly is self-care, and why is it important? Licensed counsellor psychologist Raphailia Michael writes that self-care is “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” This tip is especially important because of our natural tendency to neglect our mental, emotional, and physical health for the sake of productivity. The irony is that neglecting self-care is counterproductive because practices of self-care help to prevent burnout and reduce stress. Self-care is one of the most important practices for our wellbeing. To stay balanced throughout your day, you need to be mindful of the things you do for yourself to care for your wellbeing. Making this a daily habit can help you refresh yourself by the end of each day so you’re ready for the next.
Set up a relaxing nighttime routine
It’s important to establish a healthy nighttime routine that sends your brain a signal that you’re getting ready for bed. A relaxed body and mind are a good recipe for a good night’s sleep. Your nighttime routine determines how you wake up in the morning and your energy levels for the rest of the new day. Whatever your schedule is, the general rule of thumb for adults is to get 7-8 hours of sleep. Sorry to break it to you, but your mom was right. But what does this have to with productivity? Simply put, if we aren’t getting enough sleep, it inhibits our brain’s ability to focus, to be decisive, and to stay motivated. In contrast, when we have better quality sleep we give ourselves the advantage of showing up for our day with more focus, motivation, and alertness. Are you ready to feel more rejuvenated in the morning? Deep rest is the key to supporting your productivity levels as well as your general wellbeing.
You’ll learn that even the things that don’t seem all that relevant to work can have a significant effect on your overall productivity. Find your rhythm and experiment with the tips you think will be most helpful for you. We understand that every person is different, so this isn’t meant to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Which tips would you like to try? Do you have a tenth tip to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below.