Daily Mindfulness by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Mindfulness: the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. 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. index2

Mindfulness about the stress in your work life can help you better prepare for the future stress that is coming. For example, if you know that the end of the month is always stressful at your job, you may begin to take steps to prepare for that, such as ensuring that your home life has no additional stressors or plans during this time of the month.

Managing stress is important for everyone. Too much stress can lead to health issues, as well as making life far less enjoyable. One of the first steps to managing your stress is recognizing it, so that you can deal with it before it deals with you. This is where being mindful and in flow can help.

Mindfulness is best described as ensuring that each task you perform and every use of your time is goal or oriented.  The practice of mindfulness is all about intention and being sure you aren’t wasting time, resources or energy on meaningless things. It can even apply to how you spend your thoughts, ensuring you don’t labor over negative emotions or things you cannot change. Mindfulness is an excellent goal, but it is one that requires a great deal of self-discipline.

True mindfulness requires daily persistence. It requires taking stock of everything that gets in the way of reaching your daily goals and objectives. It can be simple time wasters, people who distract you, or people who lessen your self-confidence.

Once you’ve taken stock of these distractions and negative thoughts, make a plan for how you will deal with each and every one. You can’t simply decide to remove people from your life because they are negative, because, in many cases, these will be people you are required to interact with for work. You can, however, decide how you will respond to them, and how much of your time and energy you will let them consume.

It can be helpful to have some daily rituals that help you to keep your goals and objectives in focus. These rituals can range from morning meditation to calm your mind to a simple “to do” list that helps you ensure your daily tasks are completed, and that you are not distracted from your most important priorities.

The good news is two-fold. The first piece of good news is that, with time and practice, mindfulness becomes easier. You will get into the habit of taking stock of your priorities, from the standpoint of productivity and of peace. After a while, these habits will become second nature.

The second piece of good news is that daily mindfulness becomes much easier to commit to once you see the results. When you are more productive at work and home, and when you have more peace and happiness in your life, you’ll see how much benefit just a little time and effort can provide.

 

Mindfulness Works! by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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mindfulness10Many of us struggle with the feeling that we don’t get enough done in a day. In fact, many of us may feel that we don’t get enough done most days of the week. There are many different things you can do to increase your productivity during the workweek, but one of these things might be the simplest key to enhancing your output each and every day. It’s a simple thing called mindfulness.

Being mindful simply means doing what ever you’re doing with intention and with a focus on maximizing your time. When you are more mindful during the day, you are able to fit more work into the same amount of time by minimizing distractions, focusing on the task at hand and making yourself more aware of what you are doing and what you intend to accomplish. Here are some simple steps you can take to make yourself more mindful.

1. Have goals for the day. Each day you should have a list of “to dos”. Within this list, there should be a few things that are “must dos”, along with other items that must get done, but that are not as time sensitive. Each day, you must complete your “must dos” before going home. By knowing exactly what you have to get done, you’ll start your day in a more organized fashion, and you’ll have a goal of accomplishment each day.

2. Work in time segments. It is important to structure your day so that nothing takes up too much time. Have phone calls to make? Plan to make all your calls at once during a single period of allotted time. If one hour is a reasonable amount of time, allot yourself that amount and move on. You’re less likely to dally when you know that you have a limited amount of time to complete your task.

3. Minimize distractions. When you focus your work in time segments, it is easier to complete the tasks assigned to that time. However, it is still possible to get distracted by people who want to chat, emergencies that arise or by your mind’s own tendency to wander. When you are mindful throughout the day, you will find that you recognize distractions more easily, and find it easier to break away from them.

Mindfulness is a habit, just like any other. In the beginning, it can be difficult to show the discipline required to stay mindful throughout the day. However, with a little practice, and with the reward that comes from knowing how much you’re able to accomplish, mindfulness will soon become one of your favorite habits.

Mindfulness for Productivity at Work by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Most of us move through the day with the intent of accomplishing many things. If you’re like most of us, however, some days find you caught up in a whirlwind of unplanned activities at work that can leave you wondering where the day went and frustrated that you didn’t completemindfulness your planned task. Mindfulness is the act of moving through the day with purpose, and learning to separate the whirlwind that distracts you from the meaningful activities for the day. There are several ways to help improve your mindfulness as you go about your daily tasks.

 Make lists. Making lists is a two-part activity. The first is creating that “to do” list for the beginning of the day that highlights the things you need to accomplish. This helps you to achieve focus and have a daily plan. The second part of list making is to document what you accomplish. This may be as simple as marking things off that “to do” list as these are completed. At the end of the day, you can clearly see what you have accomplished and what might need to be moved to the following day’s list.           

 Speak with intent. Verbal communication at work is essential for an effective and happy workplace. Plan, for example, what you will say at staff meetings ahead of time, being mindful of the items that really need to be on the agenda, while also being mindful of the amount of time. Meetings that are unnecessarily long, or filled with agenda items that could just as easily have been communicated through a simple email are a waste of everyone’s time. People will appreciate attending your meetings if these are clearly important and effective.

 Structure the socializing. Happy co-worker relationships are another key to a happy workplace. However, socializing can waste time and decrease productivity. Be friendly with your coworkers, but make it a point to limit your own socializing to specifically carved out times of the day, being mindful of the amount of time you’re spending on each occasion. You may find that you get back an hour or more each week just by focusing on not over-socializing at work.

 These three simple tasks are really all about being more aware of how you spend your time. If you start by looking at how many unproductive days you have, and begin being more focused on how you spend your time, you will see your productivity increase immediately. Over time, you may find that you are accomplishing more than you ever thought possible in one day at the office.

Being in the Moment by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

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Being in the Moment

Being in the moment is a mode where instead of reacting to events and people, we choose how we direct our attention and awareness of them, and respond. This saves time and energy and brings other business benefits.

Getting out of your head

Who has not been caught up by having their buttons pushed and reacting immediately, usually with less than an optimal outcome?  Yes, they would prefer to be more responsive and creative. But reacting is a cycle. You might wonder why you so easily veer into feeling worked up, agitated, and stressed knowing that you would rather feel calm and centered, and focus on constructive action.

 What is “being in the moment” like?mindfulness

Being in the moment is the mode where action can flourish and stress is absent. Creative responses are more likely when we’re in the moment. Authenticity and thinking on one’s feet also come easily from this mode. When we are in the moment we are very powerful because we respond instead of react to challenging situations and people.

 Two Core Skills

Being in the moment is comprised of two overarching skills. The first is awareness, and the second is attention. We are well aware of what is going on around us, but are hardly ever aware of how we process what is going on. A reactive cycle takes us out of the moment, so we’re less effective. Awareness of how we process what is going on is important for leaders and organizations because it saves time and energy.

 Awareness

New, better responses to work, leadership and life arise naturally when we are first aware of what goes on ‘upstairs’. Our ‘doing’ follows our state of being. Once a leader keys in on this awareness, s/he has a powerful mode to use. They reclaim their attention and can now direct it in purely constructive and creative ways. Awareness is a first step because we can control only those things that we are aware of.

 Reactions

Once this awareness is generated, the leader notices that much time and energy is spent reacting to people and situations. A reaction is a conditioned way of processing the world. It is automatic and uncontrolled. When we say ‘he/she really pushed my buttons’ we are describing a reaction. Someone or something happened and we are now thinking in a way that is both uncontrolled and likely to lead to further agitation and stress.

 No Time to Think

Some reactions, like the ones that get us out of harm’s way, are necessary to our survival. You saw a bus careening down the road and you leapt out of the way. Your mind reacted and you did not have time to become agitated or stressed about the bus careening down the road. You did not have time to think, “Oh, this is rather negative.” Or “Why does this always happen to me?” Your focus was simply on action.

Being in this Moment

You were naturally in the moment. The external event was processed quickly enough that you created no blocks to action. Blocks to action happen when we process an external situation or person in a way that causes an internal problem for us. We know when we are turning an event or person into a problem when we take on stress, anger, anxiety or a host of other negative states. For the practical purposes of learning how to be in the moment, we will just call these undesirable states. This is the true problem, as negative reactions waste time and energy.

 Conserve Time and Energy

Unlike the split-second jump out of the way of a bus, there seems to be all sorts of time and energy available in our workdays to create negative reactions. These block action as well as creative responses. They hinder relationships, and slowly turn promising people into puddles of anxiety.

 To read more:  http://goo.gl/lDf4bK

Three Keys to Make 2011 a Great Work Year

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One of the great things about running the Athena Alliance is the vast amount of knowledge and sharing.  For the summer months I thought I would like to share with you some of the great articles written by my Alliance Members.  Please enjoy the following article submitted by Wendy Woods:

Three Keys to Make 2011 a Great Work Year

express gratitude, mindfulness and laugh moreHere are three tips guaranteed to increase your engagement and productivity.

Express Gratitude
Work is always filled with challenges so it’s easy to focus on what isn’t working or the endless frustrations.  Expressing gratitude is an easy and quick way to increase your engagement and productivity.  Whether it’s simply acknowledging your gratitude or expressing it to your coworkers, clients or suppliers, research shows that it has valuable benefits.

Specifically employees who express gratitude have greater personal satisfaction, adaptability, and energy. They also promote greater communication and cooperation within their organizations.

How can you express gratitude genuinely at work? (the key here is genuinely) Let your colleagues, boss or clients know when and how they have made your life easier. Also at the end of each day, acknowledge three things you are grateful for no matter how small.

Be Mindful
It’s hard to be focused on the present when there are so many pressures, deadlines, and distractions everyday.  A constant state of multitasking, 7/24 availability and busyness has become the norm.  The assumption is that this increases productivity resulting in greater professional and personal success.  According to the research, these attempts at greater efficiency have the opposite effect making it more difficult to learn, remember or be creative.

So what is mindfulness? The best definition is Jon Kabat Zinn’s “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”  It’s taking things back to basics.  Focusing on and working in the now instead of multiple things, thoughts or conversations at once.

How will mindfulness help you create a great year? The scientific research says it all.  Mindfulness improves areas of the brain responsible for decision making, emotional flexibility, and empathy as well as increasing attention, focus and emotional wellbeing.  It’s also been shown to improve health by lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system and managing depression and anxiety.

How can you add mindfulness to an already jammed packed day? Start by taking 1 -2 minutes several times a day to focus on your breath.   Push everything else aside and simply breathe where your abdomen inflates when you inhale and deflates when you exhale. This will make you more mindful giving you greater concentration and appreciation of your work.

Laugh More
Laughing more at work, appropriately of course, is guaranteed to help make a great year. Why? First it is a fast stress buster.  According to William Fry of Stanford University, 20 seconds of hearty laughter is equivalent to 3 minutes of hard rowing. Second, laughter facilitates cooperation.  Researchers found that people are more helpful with those they share a laugh.  Finally, laughter increases creativity and innovation which are critical organizational skills.

How can you laugh more with your co-workers? Share cartoons, stories or even laugh at yourself (an easy and safe target).  As long as you are laughing together, never at anyone, then laughter is constructive and everyone benefits.