Tagged "productivity"


How to be More Passionate About Your Work

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

When it comes to our professional lives, we’ve been told to “lean in,” aim for the four-hour workweek, focus on “deep work,” and not give a f*ck. We’re encouraged by our employers to achieve on the highest level… but to absolutely prioritize work-life balance first. And we’re tasked with providing for our loved ones (and ourselves!) financially and emotionally. 

We here at Busy Happy Healthy know just how hard living well and working hard can be: We’re a team that sometimes needs to works long hours – including weekends and nights. But we’re also a group that deeply prioritizes health, happiness, and personal fulfillment. Which is why it is so important to try and be passionate about our work – ahead, we have our top three recommendations how to do just that.

Find what you like doing best and push to do more of it

Are you secretly a killer public speaker? Do you have a gift for writing? Are you a numbers whiz? Seek out areas in your job that reinforce your skill sets and try to make them more central to your role. I’ll use myself as an example: I started my career in media, where a lot of my job consisted in crunching numbers and whizzing through spreadsheets. I’m not an incredibly analytical person and I don’t love excel. Rough. 

I soon found, however, that there were other parts of my job that I really liked – such as writing media briefs, drafting client emails (seriously, I liked doing that), and contributing to creative brainstorms. I started asking my boss if I could sit in on more brainstorms, with my role being to send a recap email to all involved about what we discussed. My fellow colleagues loved how thoughtfully I summarized and (sometimes) contributed to the chats. Soon enough, creative and writing projects started pouring my way and that became my “thing.” 

Set goals and celebrate them

Many of us neglect to cheer for ourselves when we accomplish milestones, largely because we don’t even realize that they are milestones! Remedy that by establishing  – and then celebrating – goals. These don’t need to be the big and/or usual professional goals (get promoted, get a bonus, et cetera), but rather smaller, more intimate goals. For example, at the start of my career I used to really struggle with presenting to clients -- I’d become a nervous wreck. About two years in I was on a phone call and suddenly realized: I wasn’t nervous! I’m sure no one noticed but me, but that was an epic accomplishment. I didn’t celebrate it then but I sure as hell am going to celebrate it now: Go me!  

Look to the positives -- or look elsewhere 

Generally speaking, we get down easily. In fact, Psychology Today reports that up to 70% of our “mental chatter” is negative. Given that we, on average, spend 8-9 hours at work – which is more than the amount of time we spend asleep! – plenty of those thoughts are focused on our jobs. 

This is why it’s crucial to bring a persistently positive attitude to our careers. For example, instead of focusing on what you don’t like about your job (quarterly earnings reporting), stay focused on what you do enjoy (your colleagues). If you find it hard to be upbeat about your work at all, then try focusing on the positive things your job does for you -- even if it's as basic as the fact that it provides you and your family with a source of income. (Many of us our blessed to have things like regular paychecks or health insurance, but we often forget about those things in the midst of dreary office to-dos.) And, hey, if there's absolutely nothing positive in your job -- actual work or how it benefits you -- then you heard it here first: Maybe it's time to start passionately pursuing something new. We're rooting for you!

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This One Daily Practice Changed My Business

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Email this.  Ship that.  Schedule this.  Call them.  Strategize that.  Our days are an endless list of to-dos. So often the constant doing distracts us and we get lost in an endless swirl, leaving us paralyzed: We can't decide which item to check off the list, so we don't check any.  Instead, we sit around daydreaming of a better relationship with time and the days when we can accomplish everything on our list AND have time to work out and enjoy life.  That was me.  Until now.  

A meditator for years, I'd noticed some changes in my level of anxiety and responses to certain situations, but I was by no means levitating—if you catch my drift.  I'd tried breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, yoga, breath of fire, chanting, but I never quite got “there."

Until Vedic meditation.  I recently took a course with Ben Turshen (Maharishi's student's student : ) ) and within the first session I knew this was going to be a game-changer.  Vedic meditation is unique in that practitioners sit still (with their backs supported) and gently use a specific sound or "mantra" to guide their mind into a deep state of rest.  The "mantra" is a Sanskrit word/sound that is chosen for you by your teacher based on set criteria. The mantra is meant to be a resonant sound that guides you to a deep and transcendent state. 

When I first heard of Vedic meditation, I was not convinced on the whole mantra thing. How is someone who knows very little about me going to select the perfect sound for me?  (Side bar: I come from a multicultural family and have always felt that identities are superficial and partial.  I'm not suggesting we go nameless, but I believe the idea of identity is ever evolving).  Upon a bit more probing I discovered that the mantras are selected from a list of hundreds of sounds and it’s virtually “impossible” to assign someone an incorrect mantra. Most of the dissonance that happens with new meditators is not due to an incorrect mantra, but rather a improper usage of said mantra. 

 Boy was I wrong. My mantra resonated. It resonated so hard. 

Within the first meditation, I felt a sense of calm and deep relaxation wash over me.  But I still wasn’t quite getting to the place of stillness every guru describes.  After consulting Ben, it turned out I was “overdoing” it with my mantra—which made total sense because this type A gal tends to overdo a lot of things. 

The mantras are meant as loose vehicles to guide us.  When we lose the mantra to meandering thoughts, we effortlessly remind ourselves to come back to the mantra and allow it to keep guiding us to a deeper state of rest.  It was the word "effortless" that really struck me though. As a gal who has built her life on all the effort, it was a total mind shift for me.  When I first received the mantra, I clung to it for dear life—as if it was the raft that was going to get me to a place where I never felt anxiety, never felt tension and (of course) never flipped out for no reason.  

After really analyzing the word “effortless,” much to the class’ dismay, Ben leaned in and muttered “Non-chalance” in my direction.  “Your relationship to the mantra is meant to be a non-chalant one.”  It finally clicked.  The mantra wasn’t going to save me, it was my secret little assistant, guiding me through all the twists and turns of my mind to get me “there.”  But I would never get there if I focused so hard on what the assistant sounded and felt like. I loosened my grip for the first time and watched this device work it's magic.  And it did.  

Vedic meditators sit for twenty-minutes twice per day where they silently repeat their mantras until their postural muscles give out and they slump into deep rest.  So it’s quite a commitment.  But when you read studies pointing to stress reduction, increased grey matter and less disease it seems like a very small price to pay.

By the end of the first week, I needed to sleep less because I was achieving such deep relaxation in my twice-daily meditations.  By week two, I was wildly productive—checking off items on my to-do list that had lingered there for far too long.  I felt refreshed, clear, and energized to my core for the first time in a long time.  

So how do you know which meditation is right for you?  The best way is to try out a few different types and see what works for you as individual.  Our approach to nutrition is a bio-individual one and so should our approach to meditation.  For more ideas on how to start your practice, check out our post on how to get one started. 

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Why Mono-tasking is the New Multitasking

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

If you’re a hardworking professional, the holy grail of productivity is arguably your ability to multitask. You answer emails while eating lunch; write a presentation while fielding questions on Slack from your boss; conduct research while on a call. Multi-tasking is not merely a “skill,” it’s a highly coveted one: Requested on job descriptions, lauded on resumes, and enforced through cultural norms. 

Since multi-tasking is associated with success, it makes us feel accomplished. But recent research and literature suggest the exact opposite: Multitasking isn’t merely a productivity killer, it has negative consequences for our health and happiness, too.

This past spring, the New York Times’ Verena von Pfetten delved into the topic at length, citing a slew of disheartening studies that debunk the merits of multitasking. One noted that multi-taskers are twice as likely to make errors on an assigned task; another confirmed that they struggle paying attention and are much more easily distracted than their mono-tasking counterparts. This, of course, has serious consequences for our professional lives. It not produces poor work; it makes the act of working less enjoyable. Think about it: Compare the times when you feel frantic and distracted versus those moments when you’re deeply immersed and “in the zone”: One is an agitated state while the other, a pleasurable one. 

This mono-tasking-as-a-means-for-happiness observation can be applied to our personal, everyday lives. In his book Deep Work, mono-tasking evangelist and Georgetown University professor Cal Newport argues that multi-tasking encourages distraction to the point of dysfunction – particularly in the age of smartphones. Because we have a 24/7, always-on tool for multitasking in our hands, we constantly feel compelled to use it. Doing so can hurt our personal relationships (ever try having a serious conversation with someone while she mindlessly scrolls through her phone?) and deplete us to the point where we can’t focus on the things that truly matter to us. This negatively impacts our health – both mental and physical. 

The challenge, then, is to embrace mono-tasking in a world that rewards the opposite.

Sounds hard, but it is possible: To begin, Newport recommends creating planned-ahead blocks in your day that you set aside for undistracted work. Treat these mono-tasking blocks like important one-on-one meetings: You are not available to do anything (emails, calls, texts) during them. You focus on a single task and then take a break. When it comes to personal free time, the obvious distraction perpetuator is your smartphone. Create tech-times where you put your phone out of sight for a solid chunk of time (minimum 30 minutes). Spend those blocks focusing on a single activity, like reading or having a conversation. 

Do less and get more out of life? You heard it here first.

  

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