by HENRIK EDBERG
“Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”
Jose Ortega y Gasset
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
It is early morning. You’ve had your breakfast and done your morning routine.
So you head out into your day. And in a short while you’ll sit down in school or at your job and get started with your daily work.
But how can you get that work done in a way that is less stressful, less energy consuming and simply a bit smarter?
Today I’d like to share 10 tips that have helped me with that. I hope you will find something here that will help you too to simplify and relaxify your own daily work.
Do just one thing at a time. It will help you to get your task all the way to done, to feel less stressed and confused and you’ll do a better job compared to if you multi-task things. And if you feel stressed and overwhelmed during your day then you can tell yourself this simple thing to regain focus and inner clarity again.
Keep a minimalistic workspace. It makes it easier to keep your focus and attention in the right place and to keep your thinking clear. I keep a workspace with just a wooden desk, a chair, my laptop, a larger screen and a glass of water or mug of tea on that desk.
Go slow. One good way to do more focused work is to go a bit slower than you may usually do. I have also found that by just doing something at a slower pace it feels less like a mental burden and so I am less likely to procrastinate.
Eliminate. From time to time ask yourself: what one task during my day or week can I simply eliminate and not do with few or no consequences? It’s easy to just keep doing everything simply because “you should” or because you’ve always done so. So question how you go about things to free up energy and time. There is often room to at least simplify a bit through elimination.
Cycle 100% focused work with 100% full rest. This is a big one for me. By doing things this way you’ll help yourself to keep your mental sharpness and energy up for the whole day and workweek. I do this by setting my egg-timer for 20 minutes (or sometimes just 5-10 minutes).
During those minutes I only focus on the one task at hand and it becomes easier to do so because I know that I only have to do it for this limited time period. When the egg-timer rings I leave my work for 5-15 minutes. During those minutes I focus only on resting by having a snack, taking a short walk or by relaxing with my eyes closed on the couch.
Don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go as planned. Instead, be kind to yourself and smart with your energy and ask yourself: what is one thing I can learn from this? Use what you can learn to do things better and to avoid making the same mistake in the future. It’s a better use of your time than spending it on regretting a past that you cannot change anyway.
Let emails and other online checking wait until the end of the workday. Or at least for a few hours. Don’t start your day with going through your email – if possible – because it can add a lot of stress and suck away your limited energy and attention early in the day. It can also make it hard to even find enough time for your most important tasks if you get too distracted by your inbox.
Limit your daily information input. Regularly unsubscribe to blogs, podcasts, forums and email newsletters that doesn’t add much value to your life anyway. Keep only the most helpful, funny, inspiring and best ones. This very simple thing can free up quite a bit of both time and attention during the course of a month.
Ask yourself questions every day that help you to find your focus. It’s so easy to get off track during a day. To stay on it or to get back there if you get lost use one – or both – of my own favorite questions:
What is the most important thing I can do right now? And what would I work on if I only had 2 hours for work today? If you like, write these questions down on a note and put that note where you cannot avoid seeing it during your day.
Focus mostly on the how to and not so much on the what-ifs. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis, overthinking and in the worry and lack of self-esteem that usually comes from those destructive thoughts. Instead, focus on what you actually can do, on what action you can take to move forward.
Empower yourself by asking yourself: What is one small step I can take right now to move forward towards my goal or out of this situation?