Do you ever have those days when you feel like there just isn’t enough time to get to everything on your priority list, or like time is just moving so quickly that you can’t quite find a moment to catch your breath? Me too.
In a world that tells us to keep moving, to keep crossing off those tasks on our lists, to keep hustling… It’s so easy to start to feel a little overwhelmed. We get so anxious about making it to the next step that we forget to slow down and to really be in the present moment so that we can enjoy the journey along the way to our destination.
Mindfulness and learning how to be present is a topic that I dive into this week on Episode 076 of Productivity Paradox. While I talk about what it really means to “be present” on the podcast, and share a personal experience of when I noticed that I needed to start being more mindful of my own time…
Today, I’m sharing a few ways in which being present can benefit you by boosting your happiness, reducing your stress and increasing your productivity each and every day.
Benefits of Being Present:
Our minds can be really tricky sometimes, and this is especially true when it comes to any project we have to tackle. One of the biggest challenges of being productive and getting things done is the distraction of the mind. Far too often it seems that, while we are trying to cross one task off of our list, our mind reminds us of several others that we still have to finish.
We start panicking, compulsively check our inboxes to make sure we haven’t missed anything, or we get so wrapped up in what we have to do next that we lose our focus and never really feel like we’ve accomplished anything by the end of the day… Sound familiar?
Here is the thing about overwhelm and the feeling that we need to rush to try to accomplish a million things at once though: Life is not about the hustle!
Whenever I speak about productivity, I don’t necessarily mean that it comes down to getting more done. What I think about productivity is that it means we are spending focused time on what matters the most.
So, how do we become more productive? Be Present.
Without presence, productivity can just become busyness; that overwhelming feeling that creeps in when we feel like we need to be moving and thinking about the next thing on our list can lead us to perform task after task that doesn’t have any meaning to us in the long run… And what does all of that running around do? It throws us off balance, causes stress, and leads to burnout.
By incorporating more mindfulness into our day, we can give ourselves the grace to take each item on our priority list more slowly, giving it the time and attention that it deserves… And we can truly dive deep and focus on what we have in front of us, allowing us the time that we need to do our best work and give us that feeling of accomplishment that we all strive for.
When we become mindful of our time and start to ground ourselves in the present moment, our focus increased… and so does the way in which we plan out our day for optimal productivity.
It might seem that constantly being in the present moment can conflict with our ability to plan effectively, but the truth of the matter is that mindfulness and planning actually complement each other in a huge way! Planning allows us to practice mindfulness by reducing the stressors (or upcoming tasks) that the mind often worries about.
Every morning before I start working, I take a few minutes to sit at my desk and look over my schedule, assess my priorities and create a focused plan for my day… which has been a huge factor of preventing myself from feeling overwhelmed.
Rather than jumping right in on your tasks the very first thing in the morning, I encourage you to allow yourself just a few minutes to assess your goals and priority list. Not only will giving yourself that focused time make you more mindful of how you spend your day, but it will lead to an increase in your ability to plan your time effectively–boosting your productivity without feeling burnt out by the end of the day.
Think of how drained and frustrated you feel when you aren’t being deliberate with your time. It’s the moment when you look up from answering emails or scrolling social media and wonder where the past hour went, and you start scrambling to get back on track.
Being deliberate with your time doesn’t mean always getting things done for the sake of accomplishing something, though… It’s about letting yourself pay attention to the present moment and experiencing it instead of rushing from task to task and appointment to appointment.
The same is true when it comes to making decisions: It’s important that we learn how to be more deliberate of our time and stay grounded in the present moment.
Being present can help us to make better decisions, especially when it comes to taking on new obligations or making a tough choice. All too often, we say yes out of a sense of responsibility to others… even when we know that we don’t have time.
Staying in the present moment allows us to consider new and old obligations, and it helps us decide whether they’re worthwhile or simply distractions from our purpose. When you take some time to be mindful in your decision making, it becomes easier and easier to make tough choices that we might stumble over otherwise.
Think of how your body reacts when you’re feeling overwhelmed, rushed or distracted… It’s not very good, right? You might feel angry, unmotivated or frustrated, and all of these negative emotions leads to an increase in stress and unhappiness… and can leave us feeling physically sick, strung out and exhausted in the long-run.
Here is where staying grounded in the present moment comes into play: When we are being present, our actions, our words, and our emotions align. Our mind is more relaxed, and our whole being—mind and body–is in harmony with itself and is connected.
How does this increase our productivity? Clearly, when we aren’t sick, we have a better chance of being more productive no matter what we have going on. In fact, research has shown that practicing mindfulness can improve immune system function in as little as 8 weeks of practice.
Allowing ourselves to be in the present moment can increase our resilience to stressful situations (overwhelm), prevent us from feeling sick both mentally and physically, and keep us on the right track so that we can hone in on our goals and become more productive each day.
Remember: To be happier (and healthier), we have to stop letting our inner voices distract us… and be fully present.
Not only does being present lend itself to an increase in our productivity, but it also allows us to produce better quality work.
Have you ever felt like you had a million things to do, but instead of focusing on just one thing at a time… you tried to multitask and get as much out of the way as you could? Sure, you might have crossed a few tasks off of your list, but you didn’t necessarily feel good about the work you produced. You might have even finished a project and thought to yourself, I could have done that a little differently or, If I only had more time to work on it I could have done so much better.
When we feel overwhelmed, it’s natural to want to rush through everything we have going on… but all that our rushing does is lead us to make careless mistakes, and to split our focus and effort in such a way that what we produce isn’t necessarily our best work.
Just as grounding yourself in the present moment can be beneficial to your ability to plan your day effectively and to boost your decision making… Being present can also help you to produce better work!
Allowing for periods of mindfulness when we are working on an item on our priority list not only limits the distractions we might otherwise encounter and lessen our tendency to feel overwhelmed, but it can give us the mono-focus that we need to really dive in and put our best effort into the task at hand.
Remember the concept, It’s about quality – not quantity? This rings true when it comes to the work that we produce, and the little bit of presence that we must incorporate into our day to ensure that we are working toward our goals… and living our best life possible.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, how do you keep yourself grounded in the present moment? I want to know! Be sure to share in the comments below.
I also want to encourage you to tune in to Episode 076 of Productivity Paradox to learn a bit more about how being present can benefit you, and how being productive is more than just tackling tasks!