Using Mindfulness to Improve Clarity and Productivity

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In a fast-paced work environment, it can be challenging to stay productive. You can’t eliminate all the distractions that you face at work because there are just too many. Mindfulness can help you stay in the moment and pay attention, despite seemingly endless distractions. Mindfulness also helps improve decision-making, engagement, and critical thinking, which can all improve overall productivity. Here’s how you can use mindfulness to improve clarity and productivity.

Meditation

Meditation helps calm anxiety. Meditation is especially useful during emotionally charged moments. Take two minutes to calm yourself. Sit quietly and let whatever thoughts arise come and go without any attachment or judgment. After you meditate, your heart rate lowers, you become less defensive and more solution oriented. Regular meditation can make you a better decision maker and a better thinker. Next time you feel like you need to make a point or emotion gets the best of you, take a break. If you make important decisions when you are calm and focused, your overall productivity will be higher.

Quiet Time

It can sometimes feel like taking time for yourself makes you less productive because you’re not “doing” anything. But quiet time is actually very important to maintaining productivity. Quiet time clears your brain, which allows you see things from a fresh perspective. Time spent in silence also helps you discover what’s important. In addition, it reduces stress and can make things feel a little less chaotic. This can be incredibly beneficial if you work in a loud environment full of distractions.

Meditation Apps

Many professionals who work in fast-paced work environments find meditation apps life-changing. Mindfulness apps can provide access to guided meditations and sleep solutions. Both mindfulness and healthy sleep patterns reduce stress, improve memory, improve focus, and give you better control over your thoughts and emotions. These benefits allow you to live your life in a more balanced way. If you can learn to let go of past mistakes and things you can’t control, you can focus on the here and now. You can also learn to be less reactive and approach life with a sense of curiosity instead of a need to be right.

When you work in a fast-paced role, it can feel like you are always under pressure. You might feel like you work constantly but still don’t get as much done as you would like. Mindfulness can help make you more productive by reducing stress, improving focus, and giving you much needed clarity.

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Surviving the Slump

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How excited do you think Pat Sajak is to ask contestants to buy a vowel after all these years? Do you think Beyoncé is tired of singing “Single Ladies” yet? Which do you think Michael Jordan loved more – the championship rings or shooting practice free throws for well over two decades of his life? There are monotonous phases of every career, even if your career is that of a pop star, a game show host, or a sports legend. We are certainly not exempt from that monotony either! You might not be experiencing it right now, but someone you lead may be. You might be in the height of peak professional fulfillment season but start to coast after the holidays and need a boost. The purpose of this post is not to serve as a downer, but to serve as a preemptive boost to what everyone will experience at times throughout their careers. We’ll address short-term solutions for managing a slump, mitigating boredom, and developing a carefully balanced mix of deliberate grind and patience. Even if you are in a great place professionally, if you implement a few of our suggestions, your great year can continue to evolve into something even greater. Here are some tips for surviving the slump.

Slump vs Burnout

Before we jump in, recognize that there is a difference between a slump and being burned out. A slump requires reengagement, whereas a burnout requires a comprehensive analysis of responsibilities and an analysis of future career path. A burnout can be solved by adding responsibilities to your plate, by building a team around you, and by outsourcing the lower level competencies that would allow someone to spend more time performing highly valued tasks. In order to successfully accomplish all of that, you have to be someone who others want to follow. If you are fearful that you are facing burnout, start first with treating it as a slump so you can pull yourself (or others) out of it long enough to give options for a long-term solution.

Commit to Change

Pop quiz: Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left?
The answer is five. Why? Four decided to jump off, but that’s all they did. There’s a big difference between deciding and doing.

Commit to just a couple of changes and commit to how long you will change those things. At the end of that timeline, ask yourself “did I get enough from that that I want to keep doing it?” If you want to keep doing it, great! If not, commit to changing something else. But instead of committing to running a marathon, commit to running twice a week for two weeks and then reevaluating. Instead of making dramatic statements about changing your work habits, commit to working late two nights a week for the next two weeks. Do not get overwhelmed with the long-term nature of significant change; instead, focus on small wins that you can control and then control them.

Streamline

Next, consider removing the unnecessary from the calendar. Focus on whatever those most important objectives are. If your mission is to generate new clients, then remove essentially everything else from your calendar that’s not related to developing new clients. If your key objective is to complete some projects that have been looming over your shoulder, postpone coffee meetings and other tasks until those key projects are complete. Contrary to what you might be thinking, this is not being irresponsible or avoiding responsibility; it’s reassessment, and it is at the very heart of getting out of a slump. Eliminate everything except for the most important objectives and don’t get distracted by anything else.

Have a Plan

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the phrase “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Two hundred years later, that still rings true. Do not leave the office or go to bed at night without knowing exactly what your day is going to consist of tomorrow. Some adults view a plan as something that is boring and stifling; as an alternative, many “wing” their day and have no idea what they are going to do. Subsequently, many feel stressed, anxious, overwhelmed and as though they are falling short of their true potential. The answer lies in carefully designing a routine that works best for you – one which helps you be productive, in control, and the best version of yourself possible. When you carefully craft a personal routine and stick to it, it allows you get the most important things done first and out of the way.

Actively Learn

In nature, plants either grow or decompose; they do not stay the same. People are the same way; in an organization, nourishment is supplied by learning. What are you doing to foster training, growth, and new perspectives for yourself on an ongoing basis?

Consider this dilemma: a horticulturalist is stressed out because his plants are dying but is so preoccupied trying to figure out the underlying problem that he does not have time to water the plants. Should he just continue to pray for the good luck of rain, or would he be better served by changing his schedule around so he has time to water his plants? “We don’t have the money to invest in training.” “We’ve had a really bad quarter and don’t have time for this right now.” “I’m not in the right mindset to be open to new ideas right now.” These are all the same thing as saying “my plants are dying, but I don’t have time to water them.” Be proactive in seeking your own professional water, and actively learn – with outside help if needed!

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Why Should Companies Engage with a Recruiting Firm?

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In such a fast-moving industry, companies that engage with a recruiting firm can maintain a competitive edge by ensuring they have the best talent working for them. A recruitment firm will provide access to better candidates and improve the effectiveness of the hiring process among other things. Here are some reasons companies should engage with a recruiting firm.

Access to People Who Are Normally Inaccessible

Recruiters have access to both companies and candidates who would otherwise be inaccessible. Recruiters can open doors for companies who want to find better talent because recruiters have extensive connections. A tenured recruiting firm will have a talented and well-vetted network. In a competitive employment market, this means everything. The best recruiters will have strong relationships with all the players in the industry, and this is an invaluable resource to an organization.

Help with the Hiring Process

The best recruiting firms have high acceptance rates. Our firm’s acceptance rate is over 98 percent. Such a high rate indicates that a firm takes recruiting very seriously and attends to the process every step of the way, resolving any issues before they arise. A skilled recruiter will make the process run smoothly for both the company and the candidate. For example, recruiters will help pre-close the deal, make sure the candidate has all the necessary information, and negotiate compensation. Most importantly, recruiters help facilitate communication between the company and the candidate to minimize the chance of problems arising.

Influence with the Passive Candidate Market

The best candidates are often the candidates who are currently working and aren’t actively searching for opportunities. These so-called “passive” candidates are hard to attract and nearly impossible to access without a recruiter. Working with a recruiter will give you more influence with the passive candidate market. By building trust with candidates, a recruiter can persuade passive candidates to come into an interview and give you advice on how to woo the candidate and make an attractive offer.

Coach on the Interview Process

A recruiting firm provides coaching to both sides of the interview process. A trained recruiter will coach you on what questions to ask during the interview and what questions to avoid. The recruiter knows what kind of questions can scare off prospective employees. The best recruiters will help both the client and the candidate understand the whole process from beginning to post-placement.

When it comes to C-level support, organizations need the best talent in the industry. Engaging with a recruiting firm can help you ensure that you have highly skilled professionals supporting your executives. A seasoned recruiter will give you access to better candidates, improve your influence with the passive candidate market, and coach you through the interview and hiring processes.

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The Dichotomy of Inertia

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When it rains, it pours; most people are familiar with this phrase. It’s what we use to describe the inertia of negative circumstances building and snowballing. Can you think of the equivalent phrase used to describe the opposite, the experience of positive inertia? “Just look at the bright side,” “turn lemons into lemonade,” or “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel” might come to mind, but those all build on turning a negative into a positive. What about turning a positive into even more positives? Why is that not more commonplace? If momentum can swing us one way or the other on the pendulum of professional success, how can we keep the dichotomy of inertia positioned in a positive direction?

Habits

Let’s start with a common misnomer – that it takes 21 days to create a habit. If we want to focus on replicating positive momentum, we must start with an understanding of what it takes to get into a consistent pattern. The origination of the 21-day theory stems from plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz. In the 1960s, Maltz released the best-selling book Psycho-Cybernetics. In it, he shares that a unique pattern occurred in his surgery patients; when the surgery resulted in an altered appearance, it took the patient around 21 days to get used to seeing their altered complexion. He also observed this in patients who had lost a limb; it would take them around the same amount of time to not feel the phantom limb before adjusting to their new situation.

Maltz’s book focused on a mind and body connection and the power of self-affirmation and mental visualization techniques. Many of his findings and the book itself were absorbed into areas of personal development in which some of the very trainers and motivational speakers focus who we know today: Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins. However, this theory morphed from the idea that it takes 21 days to create a habit. It’s like that game of telephone; the end story has become somewhat distorted.

In 2009 Phillippa Lally, a psychology researcher at University College London, published a study on how habits are formed. She sought out to identify how long it takes to form a habit in the real world and by doing everyday tasks. The study looked at simple acts that people could incorporate into their daily lives such as drinking a bottle of water at lunch or running for 15 minutes before dinner.

Her findings? On average it took more than two months before a new behavior became automatic; 66 days to be exact. Her study went on to say that it could be anywhere between 18 to 254 days – upwards of 8 months to start and stick with a new habit!

The punchline? It takes a much longer period of time for a new habit to become your new normal.
Why is that critical to this topic? We must not regard any of the following suggestions as quick-fixes, but rather as a journey to create a completely different mindset associated with maintaining a perpetually positive inertia. Although this analysis of the dichotomy of inertia can span all facets of life, this article will focus on the professional opportunities that exist for emphasis on the positive.

Autopsy

Within the workplace, it is common to diagnose negative circumstances. A key employee left the organization, a prospective client was lost, or the department failed to hit quarterly targets are all examples of situations in which individuals will convene to discuss what was missed, what could have been done differently, and how to avoid replicating in the future.

Have you ever done an autopsy on something that didn’t die?

How much time is dedicated to discussing what has kept individuals at your firm? Brainstorming on what unique differentiators you have that allowed you to land a key account? Not just celebrating the achievement of a quarterly target, but breaking down at a granular level what each team member did to contribute to the success of the department? Although mistakes are our teachers, a great deal can be done to learn from success. If you want to create a long-term shift in perspective being of a positive nature, it requires a shift in the focus of experience.

Commitments Versus Goals

An object in motion stays in motion; how is that applied within a professional setting? Consider breaking achievements into two categories – commitments and goals. A commitment is a level that is attainable; one to be celebrated and which took some effort to get to. But how do we keep the motion of achievement in motion? The next level is the goal; the stretch milestone that might be seemingly impossible to attain but is in fact doable. Delineating between the two creates a space for further momentum beyond what is expected and perpetuates the positive force of an accomplished objective.

Words Matter

As a leader, it is our responsibility to help others understand that words have power; the way we say things matters. One could complain, “I am being bombarded with emails” or one could ask for suggestions for technology tools and effective time management.

I have to go to this team meeting = I get to go to this team meeting because I have a team dedicated to learning and living up to their fullest potential

I have to get this proposal to our client = I want to get this proposal to our client because they trust us to solve a problem they cannot solve on their own

I have to get caught up on emails = I want to get caught up on emails as I have knowledge and insight that others are relying on me to share with them

I have to take the kids to practice = I get to take the kids to practice as I am fortunate to have a family and resources to help them live a full, varied life

We have the freedom to choose our actions, our profession, our financial needs, and the path of our life. Each interaction is one step on the journey to create a transformed mindset associated with maintaining a perpetually positive inertia.

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