In many of my seminars and talks over the past 6 months I’ve found myself answering many of the questions on how to maximizing productivity in specific on how to do deep meaningful work with be mindful.
> 1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
> 2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Mindfulness as an answer was tough for me initially. I’m normally the no-nonsense speaker. Remember my article on “The problems are multi layered and complex but the solutions are simple.” It’s in that article that I made the case for not over complicating the solutions to our problems and all solutions don’t have to be some magical mystical purple unicorn moment where you have a big a-ah!
The challenge of mindfulness in and around productivity is making yourself be present and take a hard look at what you’re doing or NOT doing. Ouch that hurt a bit didn’t it.
Here are just some of the top mindfulness techniques:
There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, but the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This allows the mind to refocus on the present moment. All mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation.
-Basic mindfulness meditation – Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.
-Body sensations – Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass. Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.
-Sensory – Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judgment and let them go.
-Emotions – Allow emotions to be present without judgment. Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.” Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.
-Urge surfing – Cope with cravings (for addictive substances or behaviors) and allow them to pass. Notice how your body feels as the craving enters. Replace the wish for the craving to go away with the certain knowledge that it will subside.
-The next conversation you have don’t have your phone in your hand and pay attention to what’s being said.
-Ask the person checking you out at the store or the barista making your coffee “ how are you today?” And really wait for their answer. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk. Be quiet and just listen to what they are saying.
-Pick a time of the day, say while you are reading an article, reading the news site that you frequent or even watching a YouTube video and be totally present in that moment doing that one thing.
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Do not disturb doesn’t work. You might want to go to the next level.
The gloom and doom of our phones are destructive to our work, relationships and our mental health.
I’m sure you know it’s ruining your work by the constant notifications, the FOMO that you cannot control and the attention residue it causes.
As for our mental health. How is my smartphone hurting me in this area.
Check this out.
It Distorts Our Perception Of Reality…
How many times have you heard people mention things like this:
“The world is total $hit.”
“Did you see that horrible story on social media?”
“The world is coming to an end.”
“I cannot believe they are going on a vacation again!”
Our smartphones in combination with social media has the ability to distort the users perception. The reason for this is because the media is biased of course and whatever bleeds, leads.
Now, this is one of those aspects of where you have to decide does your phone and social media use you or do you use it? Unfortunately, most people let the use of this tool impact them in a negative way and are totally clueless on how destructive this actually is.
DND didn’t work.
I tried DND (do not disturb). That still let people and some notifications in. Then, I switched to airplane mode. Cutting off all communication in or out.
What a great feeling.
I turn it on-
-When I am speaking
-When I’m working and need to focus
I can hear it now. I can’t do that.
Can’t means won’t.
You can… just flip it on and it’s done!
The problems with our phones and social media are complex I’ll give you that. However, the solution is easy, simple and fast.
Why Do You Need A Complex Solution To A Problem When A Simple One Will Fix It?
As a Professional Speaker and Corporate Trainer I get the chance to observe many massive changes in peoples productivity and workflow. However, I am always amazed at what people do when they are given a fix, solution and answer to a problem.
In the spirit of full transparency. I am a reformed control freak and over-thinker. Fixing these issues gives me some license to write and speak about my observations below. My hope is to offer you some solace from the bondage of being an overthinking control freak and implement simple solutions.
No doubt many problems are complex, multi-layered and bothersome. However, I have discovered over the past 23 years of working in this industry that no matter the complexity of the problem almost all of the solutions to the problems are simple. It’s as simple as don’t do that. Start doing this… Just as the famous quote says “just do it” but they don’t. When I sense that the (easy) solution is not going to be implemented that second I explore why?
How to implement a simple fix to a complex problem requires a few things. First, determining if you can control it and making it hard to screw up the solution.
One of the most common obstacles in implementing a simple solution is trying to control things we can’t. He’s a little help.
Running things through the control decision filter looks like this.
As you can see running these through the decision filter you get two possible outcomes. Let it go or do something about it. If social media is disruptive to you or chews up a ton of your time then delete the social media account offenders. If you are worrying about what other people think. Let it go – you cannot control third parties and people. Ruminating and overthinking. Again, through the filter it goes. It you say I can do this and handle it, then do it now. If you can control it – let is go now!
It is. That’s all there is to it. Another common obstacles in adopting a simple solution is wanting a complex and dense solution.
We discount solutions that lack complexity and density. I’ve found that sometimes it’s that people want to be beautiful unique snowflakes and a simple fix is to general for them. They need the density of a solution to un pack to make them feel special. You want to feel special rescue a dog from the shelter and watch how they treat you when you come home from a long day at work. There… you’re special. Feel it?
Make it hard to mess up and simple fix.
Some fixes require friction or self-imposed barriers to carry out the solution. Friction makes it hard to screw up a simple solution. You identify you have a slight peanut butter overconsumption problem. The massive amounts of nut butter you shovel down your gullet is making you fat. Hmmmmm what do you do? I’d say, don’t buy any more peanut butter and delete the @I ❤️ peanut butter account from your Instagram app (self-imposed barrier). Problem solved. You say, no my kids need peanut butter for their school lunches. I understand. Then buy it and have them hide it (friction). Every morning when you get ready to make their lunches they bring it to you. After you make the lunches they hide it again.
Now, you try it.
Take a problem run it through the decision filter. If you can’t control it then let it go. If you can control it. Look for a solution and implement it now. Apply a self-imposed barrier or friction. There you go. All better.
I have to because I am constantly asked at my seminars and keynotes “what app do you recommend” for this or that? I try to always have a recommendation to offer. I even have a PDF document that contains my current and top recommendations. However, I recently discovered something about my app choice and usage. Personally I have migrated back to most of the native (IOS) apps. If I don’t use a native app I noticed that my chalices were always for the simple app.
I pondered why and how I choose the apps for may daily productivity and what I kept coming back to was simple! Simple is fast. Simple is not over complicated. Simple is reliable. Simple doesn’t require a lot of brain power thus not creating decision fatigue. Simple is all I require to get the job done.
Let me share some of my thinking here with you so that you can make an informed decision on if simple will work for you in the app department.
As a productivity expert speaking and writing on the subject of getting more done I have to tell you everything you can do to reduce decision fatigue is essential to your productivity success. We make 25,000-65,000 decisions a day. These decisions start as soon as we wake up. Snooze? No! I mean yes, I’m tired. Brown shoes or black? Oatmeal or avocado toast? Should I take Warm Springs road to work or the I-215? Some of these decisions seem trivial, but be warned: brown shoes or black shoes takes just as much out of the decision making allowance as making a decision on $100,000,000 project. Yep, true story.
This is why simple easy-to-use apps are key in not giving you decision fatigue. If the app is over complicated, just the act of adding an item to a to-do list can be taxing. I counted how many decisions I had to make to add a task to a very popular to-do app. Eight! It took eight decisions just to enter a simple task. I don’t know about you but I need all of the brain power I can recruit for higher cognitive pursuits. So, how many decisions is it to enter it into a “simple” app? None! Hit the plus sign and type, done! Want to save an article to read later? I tested a very elaborate app that boasts tons of features. It’s an app that is made for this sort of curation. It took 9 taps just to send it to the app. Two more click to specify the destination location. I switched to using Instapaper and in two clicks I have it sent, saved and ready to read as soon as I open the app.
Below is a list of simple apps to test. Kick the tires see if you notice the reduced trouble and decisions to execute just using the basic functions of these apps.
Reminders (Apple IOS)
Notes (Apple IOS)
Pen and paper (Yep, going old school)
Reader and content curator: