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Mindful Productivity ‒ 7 Ways To Achieve More With Less Stress

Written by: Anna Nordengren, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Are you ready to kill your to-do list (once and for all)? Maybe productivity makes you think of hard work, stress, and deadlines. But this is not at all what Mindful Productivity is about. There are simple, yet powerful strategies you can apply to actually give yourself more time and energy to really enjoy a happier and more meaningful life.

What is productivity and how can it help you reduce stress?


Productivity has to do with the relationship between input and output. For the sake of this article, let’s define productivity as how big your output (of some kind of value) per hour is.


It is easy to get stuck in the old traditional thinking that in order to increase your productivity, you have to work faster. And if you measure your productivity per day, you may conclude you have to work more hours.


STOP! This is not what Mindful Productivity is about. Think of it like this instead: High productivity (output per hour) allows you to work fewer hours so you have more time and energy for whatever it is that you enjoy doing in your life.


And the beauty of it is, that when you are having fun, feeling happy, and doing what you are good at, then you are the most productive.


To sum it up this far, there are two sides to it:

  1. By increasing your output per hour you can allow yourself to work fewer hours and have more time for fun and happiness.

  2. When you are happy and having fun, you will be more productive.

So, increasing your productivity can help you reduce stress. But it gets even better when you allow mindfulness to enter the equation:


What is Mindful Productivity?


When you are being mindful and fully present, you stop being so reactive and you let yourself choose your thoughts, emotions, and actions wisely. By practicing mindful awareness (mindfulness) you learn how to observe your own thoughts, instead of being your own thoughts. This will help you make better decisions and priorities.


When you are present in the now, you don’t waste energy on having regrets about the past, or anxiety about your future. With all your attention in the now, you will not only feel better but also become more productive.


7 Powerful Ways to Apply Mindful Productivity in Your Life


So how can you tap into Mindful Productivity and achieve more with less stress? This list of 7 ways to apply Mindful Productivity has the potential to transform the way you spend your time, so I invite you to read it mindfully…


1. Practice Mindful Awareness


The first step towards reaping the benefits of Mindful Productivity is to practice mindful awareness (mindfulness). The benefits are infinite, but to mention a few:

  • The practice itself reduces the physical and emotional stress. The mind becomes calm and the nervous system can “reset” into normal.

  • Stress is a reaction to a perceived threat and a threat response is activated in the more primitive parts of your brain. Your ability to think rationally deteriorates and you become more reactive. When you practice mindful awareness you learn how to “cool down” your brain and make better and more productive decisions.

  • Another benefit of mindful awareness is that you let go of distractions so you can stay focused on your task. This is a huge productivity booster!

There are many ways to practice mindful awareness: meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and spending time in nature are all powerful tools that can improve both your wellbeing and your productivity.


2. Stop Multitasking


You may fool yourself that you are more productive when you are juggling many tasks at the same time, but the fact is that your brain does not know how to multitask.


Research has shown that our brains can only perform one cognitive task at a time, so when you multitask your brain must shift between the different processes. This slows you down and you are more likely to make an error. Yes, if you’re performing simpler tasks (like ironing while listening to a podcast), you may get along. But in order to achieve more with less effort (and in less time), stick to performing one task at a time.


3. Identify the vital few (80/20-principle)


Identifying the vital few and applying the 80/20-principle is really the key to working smarter, instead of working harder. This principle or rule has been known for centuries. It states that roughly 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes, and it applies to many areas of your life. Think about it - what 20% of your activities are giving you 80% of your results?


The real productivity uplift occurs when you actually stop doing the things that do not contribute as much and do more of the vital few (that is the 20% of the causes that generate more value). This is where you will “kill your to-do list” once and for all.


Applying the 80/20-principle will probably challenge how you are used to thinking about time and how to manage it. So be mindful, and the result will kick in!


4. Boost Your Capacity


We are often running on empty batteries, and you know how well that would work if you were a mobile phone! Still, we seem to forget that we need both recharging and some maintenance. Imagine yourself being a machine or a car ‒ what kind of car will take you faster from A to B with the least effort? So look after that wonderful vehicle that you are and notice how much easier life will flow! So what can you do to boost your capacity?

  • Make sure you allow yourself to rest, to recover. Take a break! Taking time to rest will actually SAVE you time because you will be smarter, more creative, and more productive when you are well-rested.

  • Your body and brain get energy from the food you eat, so eat nutritious food. It does not have to be complicated. Get a good mix of carbs, protein, and fat, add veggies, and drink water. That’s it.

  • Prioritize your sleep. The hours you spend asleep will save you hours during the day. Thinking you will achieve more by skipping hours of sleep is a mistake.

  • Exercise! Yes, you get so much energy from exercise, you get smarter, you reduce stress and you will sleep better. Don’t be hard on yourself ‒ a daily walk makes wonders!

5. Lean into Your Strengths


This one is controversial to some, but again, dare to think differently and you will get different results. When you are doing something that you love and that comes easy to you, you are more likely to succeed, and that with less effort. Let me quote Neuroscientist Friederike Fabritius: “...it will make the world a better place because it’s much easier, more fun, and more likely to result in success when you are working in an environment that makes your strengths shine…”


So maybe you think you cannot influence the kind of work you do, but being mindful about what your strengths are and how to apply them, will most certainly improve your productivity (I always loved writing, but was thinking that isn’t something I can do for a job. If you have read the article this far, you get the point).


6. Choose the Path of Least Resistance


If leaning into your strengths is controversial, choosing a path of least resistance may seem almost blasphemous. But again, it’s about being mindful. It’s not about not reaching for your goals or challenging yourself to venture outside your comfort zone.


No, it’s about being flexible and open to new opportunities. Don’t get attached to the solution. When you meet resistance, if you push harder, the resistance will grow stronger. Instead, allow yourself to take a step back and have a new look at the situation. What other options are there? Allow yourself to flow. Like the river, you will reach the sea, but there might be some unexpected twists and turns along the way.


7. Stop Procrastination


Last, but not least, in order to improve your productivity without working harder, stop procrastination. Everybody postpones things now and then, but it is when it has a negative impact on your quality of life and your end results, that procrastination becomes a problem. There can be many reasons for procrastination: something is new and difficult, you find it hard to focus, you are too tired, you’re afraid of failure or it can in fact be a response to some kind of trauma.


Again, it’s about being mindful. Be honest with yourself ‒ are you procrastinating? Take a closer look at what is going on: Why are you procrastinating? When you know, it will be much easier to choose the best strategy to overcome it.


To sum this up, practising Mindful Awareness and learning how to tap into Mindful Productivity can open up a whole new world of opportunities for you. What strategy will you start with?

  1. Practice Mindful Awareness

  2. Stop Multitasking

  3. Identify the vital few (80/20-principle)

  4. Boost Your Capacity

  5. Lean into Your Strengths

  6. Choose the Path of Least Resistance

  7. Stop Procrastination

You will probably have to challenge old limiting beliefs and set some new, healthy boundaries in order to implement your new way of managing your productivity, but when you do, you will discover a world where you too can achieve more with less stress.


Follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook, and visit my website for more on leadership and personal development. I also invite you to download my FREE Mindful Productivity Activator


 

Anna Nordengren, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Anna Nordengren is a dedicated business professional with 25 years of experience in leadership, marketing and business consulting. She is also an ICF Coach, an NLP Practitioner, and a Certified Yoga Teacher. After a personal crisis, where she dived deep into her own personal development, she made it her mission is to bring all her experience and insights to inspire and help people make changes they are longing for to reach their goals, both in life and in business. “Life is short, don't waste a day being in a situation where you are not happy without trying to change it”. Her academic background is an MSc in Business and Economics with an international degree from Lund University in Sweden, and an Executive MBA from the same University.

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