Productivity: The Art of Staying Focused

Whether you already have an efficient routine or you are yet to find one, many of us could do with mastering the art of productivity. Planning our working day as efficiently as possible enables us to reap the benefits of hard work, whilst also enjoying some free time too. This guide offers tips on how to foster productivity, minimise distractions, and the art of prioritisation.

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Sleep

Sleep sets you up for the day. Avoid waking up on the wrong side of the bed by getting the recommended 7-8 hours. Create a warm, cosy bedroom environment to make getting enough sleep as achievable as possible. Calm a busy mind before bedtime by utilising the 4-4-4 breathing technique. Breath in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, then exhale to the count of four. According to scientific research, slowing your breath triggers a relaxation response in the brain and body, setting you up for the perfect night’s sleep.

Efficient Planning Tool

Have you ever come across Eisenhower’s urgent/important matrix tool? If you have, I’m positive that you can testify its effectiveness. If you haven’t, you can check out a visual here. This time management tool is a powerful way to prioritise time, tasks and goals. The planner displays four quadrants which enable you to divide tasks by their level of urgency and importance. This matrix allows you to visualise and determine what tasks you need to do and which tasks should be prioritised. Often we are productive, but none of it has real value in the long run. This method will empower you to plan and prioritise long-term goals each week.

Start with the Most Important Tasks

According to Laborit’s law, we should start with the most mentally draining task at the beginning of the day. The following scenario may sound familiar to you. You have a dreaded task to do, instead of doing it right away you procrastinate, carrying out simpler tasks that bring immediate satisfaction. Also known as “The Law of the Least Effort”, we’re essentially perpetuating the sensation of that unpleasant task hovering over us. To master productivity, start the day with the most difficult task and reward yourself as soon as it’s finished.

Adios Distractions

Are you susceptible to distractions such as Whatsapp messages, aimlessly scrolling on social media or googling random thought processes? Guilty as charged! If, like many, you tend to get distracted by your phone, leave it another room. Keep it on silent and out of reach in order to let your focus flow. Also, try not to constantly check emails and carry out several tasks at once. Focus on the task in hand; monotasking, not multitasking, is the secret to getting things done efficiently.

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Get Inspired

The subconscious mind is one of the most powerful tools and, in turn, ultimately the key to our success. Every day our mind is shaped by the environment in which we live. Our memories, beliefs, fears, subjective maps of reality are all examples of our subconscious mind that govern the course of our life. It’s essential to override subconscious negativity with inspiration. Listen to podcasts, read books, and spend time with people that inspire you. Fill your environment with inspirational quotes, vision boards, get out in nature.

Productivity is the result of commitment, efficient planning and focused effort. I highly recommend Stephen R. Covey’s best selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to learn more on efficiency and expertise in purposeful productivity.

“The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen R. Covey

The Science-Backed Health Benefits of Reading

Reading is way more than just a hobby. It also has incredible health benefits that make it an excellent habit, ritual or passion. When was the last time you read a book, or a lengthy article? Keep reading to find out the incredible benefits of reading and five reasons to start today.

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Mental Stimulation

Since reading keeps your brain active and engaged, it helps us maintain and develop cognitive stimulation. Much like a crossword or sudoku keeps us mentally active, reading has a similar effect on the brain. Mind stimulating activities like reading help improve memory, problem-solving, powers of reasoning.

Improved Concentration

In a fast-paced world, we are susceptible to distraction and multi-tasking. Luckily, reading is proven to help increase concentration levels. In fact, suffering from a short attention span or multi-tasking is a common issue nowadays. So, why not try reading as part of your daily routine? The next time you indulge in a book, remind yourself that getting lost in the pages has instant benefits. Think improving focus and increasing your attention span.

Stress Reduction

 Reading has the power to transport you to another world far away from the stresses of daily life. Ever find yourself stressing about what the future holds, or when you’ll have time to complete your to-do list? Take some time out and notice how your worries slip away with a gripping read. Reading relaxes you “by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles”. Its element of distraction enables you to enjoy a stress-free relaxation period with long-lasting benefits.

Being Present

Sometimes it’s a struggle to stop your mind wandering beyond the present. You know, for example, overthinking about the past or worrying about the future. The good news is that reading is here to gift you presence. By giving your full attention to what you are reading, you enable yourself to fully indulge in the present. Click here to find out how to be more mindful while reading. Focus on the story, fully immerse yourself in its narrative or argument. Enjoy the mindfulness of reading!

Combatting Mental Illness

Did you know there is actually a word for the use of reading as a form of therapy? Bibliotherapy can be used to help treat anything from mood swings to anxiety. In particular, self-help books are excellent sources of knowledge that can also provide therapeutic tools for mental health concerns. Creative bibliotherapy, including literature, stories, poetries or plays, also helps improve psychological well-being. It can accompany and guide you as you identify with a character or gain further insight into life experiences. Fiction is also a great way to re-balance through escapism; to bring order to a disordered mind through a structured narrative.

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I hope you feel inspired to invest time in an incredibly enjoyable, beneficial pastime. With endless book stores, e-books and online articles, there’s so much potencial for newbies to ignite a passion for reading. And, for the fellow avid readers out there, to indulge in the magic of reading guilt-free.

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Joseph Addison