Do you remember a moment when your thoughts were spinning around, your breath was heavy and your palms were sweaty, your mouth was dry, you felt a heavy stomach and you just did not know how to do the next step? These are the symptoms of stress and the reaction of our body to danger and we either flee, fight or freeze (or some would say flow). If we stay too long in this state, our brain will over the time have smaller cognitive capabilities. We will not be able to process information as effectively as when we are well rested. Why am I saying that?
The reason is that daily distractions make us feel stressed and have a negative impact on our productivity.
These days when most of us spend more time with devices than with real human beings, which is already stressful as we are not genetically programmed for that, being a master of your time means being a master of your life. It took me many years to realise that but when I reached the point that I felt more confident and responsible for who I am and what I stand for it has changed my life. And if I could do it so can you. So let’s start working on the mastery of your time and your life with these 3 techniques.
First one is to have an overview of our priorities and goals in order to gain focus and perspective. Here I mean for example creating a list of goals for 2021, including your priorities, projects, key milestones and anything else that you want to achieve this year or with a later date. Gaining a perspective is a key. Once you write everything down, check on it every day. It can be on the wall, in the notebook, board etc., the most important is that it is visible and easy, and I am going to write it again, easy, for you to connect with it. The reason is that the more effort we need to do it, the less likely we are going to do it. So make it easy for yourself to connect what matters to you so that you can achieve that. As you can understand, the more we connect with our goals the more focus we have and the more productive we are in making the goals a reality. It is like when we want to park a car and we search for a spot, or when we have a “must-deadline” and we just focus on its completion and the rest of the world does not exist for us during that time.
The second technique is the ability to control your thoughts. This is a very complex topic and whole books have been written on it, so very simply, here is how it works in the so-called “cognitive triangle”: Thoughts <-> Emotions <-> Behaviour <-> Thoughts
As you can see, by being aware and controlling your thoughts you are able to control your emotions (that are subconscious) and the way to act upon them.
Therefore any practise that is focused on improving your brain functions, like meditation, journalling, connection with your dearest, diet, exercise, learning etc. will have an impact on your productivity in the long term.
And the last technique is blocking or scheduling your day; your activities, priorities and your goals in the calendar. It can be a paper calendar or any other electronic one. The most important is that you have and use one. It does not have to be perfect or every hour is planned, but the key is that when you look at the calendar you know when you work, rest, connect and create. This will also help you to keep healthy boundaries when those unexpected calls or other people’s priorities come in and to get the job done and feel great, rather than exhausted. I like to use paper calendar A5 as it is always handy (and does not need any charging) and I can write notes there as well. Some people prefer the A4 calendar to have better visibility. Whatever size you like to use, just use one that works for you and because you like it you will more likely use it.
So let’s start this year with more focus and getting more things done so that you can live the life you have always wanted.