Increase Productivity With a 5-Minute Change

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Increase Productivity With a 5-Minute Change
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(Photo by Haber Photography)

In the last few years, everything feels much busier. Since we can access everything on our digital devices, we are never out of reach and feel an obligation to respond quickly from all sides. Whether the day is dedicated to a high-pressure job or raising kids, most of us have full schedules, and we are doing our best to pack as much in as possible. This has a huge upside, since we accomplish great things. However, it can lead to a significant amount of stress, an overtaxed nervous system and diminished productivity.

I have found in my own experience it is very difficult to disconnect. I was waking up every morning and looking at my emails with my eyes half open. I was 100 percent guilty of driving from place to place while writing a “quick” text or reading an email. I was lucky to have kept myself and others from harm, but I felt pressure to be efficient as possible with every spare minute. I was going from one thing to the next with a million different ideas in my mind about what I had to do, who I had to email, or when I needed to schedule a meeting. I was missing the present moment. Even though I am a regular yogi and read a variety of mindset books, I was anything but mindful.

Luckily, I met Agapi Stassinopoulos and Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald at the Makers conference, who gave a class on mindfulness. The class was filled with women who worked incredibly hard in high-powered jobs while managing to raise kids. Needless to say, everyone was a little skeptical of the idea of disconnecting, including me. However, through the session they proved the point that how we start our day is how we are going to live our day.

The first five minutes of each day set you up for your life! If you are like me and wake up to business first thing, then you are setting the hurried, anxious and stressful tone for the rest of your day.

Fortunately, it only takes five minutes to change this and transform your entire day. Even if you feel like your schedule can’t take on one more possible thing, you’ll be surprised to find out it can and how important it is over everything else. Even if we have to sacrifice five minutes less of sleep, Facebook or House of Cards, we will quickly learn how transformative this five-minute gift can be.

The five minutes can be spent mediating, journaling or reading an inspirational book. Whatever works for you, just make sure you are disconnected from all devices and TV. Everything will be there after you take this time for yourself. Once the day begins, it’s very difficult to find the five minutes at another point in time. Even if you did, your stress levels will be higher. That’s not to say you can’t take another five minutes to yourself. Just make sure to get the first one in just in case life’s events keep you from another time. Of course, you can extend the five minutes to any length of time that works for you, but do your very best not to shorten it.

I have learned the power of spending this time first thing in the morning for myself. Whether I meditate or write in my journal, my approach to each day has changed. I no longer feel compelled to get back to folks right away and I stopped using my phone in the car. In addition, my productivity and patience has increased. I have a stronger focus on one thing at a time, which helps me get much more done. I am no longer frustrated when I do not hear from important contacts or things are not moving along as fast as I would like. While it’s not always easy and nothing is ever perfect, each day I see improvements in myself as well as my work.

Now it’s your turn! Dedicate one week to this five-minute practice. Take it day by day, and before you know it, you will have a new incredibly-beneficial habit that will permeate through all aspects of your life.

The Five-Minute Meditation:

Lay or sit in a comfortable position. Turn on soothing music that does not have lyrics.
Close your eyes and begin to take deep breaths through your nose and out your nose. Feel all the tension and thoughts melt away.
Begin to count during each breath. Inhale for a five-count. Hold your breath for a five-count. Then exhale for a five-count.
Continue that breathing pattern for the five minutes.

If thoughts start to arise, acknowlege them like birds flying by. Always come back to your breath and focus on the counting.

For additional info, please check out http://www.noratobin.com/blog

8 Relaxing Activities For When You Just Need To Clear Your Mind
The stress and strain of constantly being connected can sometimes take your life — and your well-being — off course. GPS For The Soul can help you find your way back to balance.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others’ stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing “secret weapons” that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony, or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to look at the GPS Guide below, visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.

If you had a completely free hour to do anything you wanted — with no limits — how would you spend it?

Chances are most of us wouldn’t choose “surfing the Web” or “texting”. If we make the time to do what we want, we can give ourselves the opportunity to really recharge and clear our minds. We asked our Facebook community how they would fill some spare time. Check out their favorite calming activities below — and give one of them a try next time you find yourself needing a little headspace.

How would you spend an hour? Tell us in the comments below!

For more GPS Guides, click here.

Why We All Need to Accept Reality (And 3 Ways to Do It)
It’s finally April — the start of baseball season. On March 31, 26 of the 30 Major League teams started their 2014 campaigns. If you have a favorite team, you’re probably full of optimism about the upcoming season. You think, This is the year they’re going to win the World Series!

In reality, only one team can win it all, and 29 teams (plus legions of fans) will be disappointed. So are you crazy to think your team will win? No — you’re just human. And humans can be pretty irrational.

Think about the last time you bought a lottery ticket. Did you have a hunch that you had the right numbers? This is nuts — the probability of winning Powerball is more than 1 in 175 million. You literally have a better chance of becoming president! We humans tend to overestimate the likelihood that good things will happen to us and underestimate the likelihood of bad things. Scientists call this optimism bias, and about 80 percent of us have it.

Not only are we bad at predicting the future, we can’t accurately judge our skills and abilities. Most people have statistically impossible opinions about themselves. One classic study reported that 68 percent of professors rated themselves in the top 25 percent for teaching ability. Poppycock! As per Garrison Keillor, we may think our children are above average, but it can’t possibly be true for everyone.

This struggle to accept reality seems to be everywhere. Last month, when Russia invaded Crimea, President Obama called it “absurd,” pointing out that “no amount of propaganda can make right something the world knows is wrong.” Fair enough. But we’re not accepting the truth: Russia has seized Crimea, and there’s very little the world can do about it. We need to move forward.

Or take Obamacare. Many Americans don’t agree with it. But now that more than 6 million people have enrolled, it’s almost certainly here to stay. On both sides of the aisle, the best move is probably to accept this and figure out how to make it work. Is that happening? Not from my vantage point.

Let me be clear: I’m not telling you to abandon hope for your baseball team, declare that your children are mediocre, or move to a bunker in the woods. What I am telling you is that as human beings, we have to be careful not to deny reality when it hurts our happiness, health and success. We must accept things are they are, not as we wish them to be.

There’s good news: When we embrace reality, amazing things happen. Four months ago, one of my coaching clients set a goal to work out twice a week in the office gym. Every time we’d meet, I’d ask how he was doing. And every time, he’d hang his head and admit defeat. After a while, it almost became comical.

This month, my client said, “I need to accept reality. I am never going to the office gym.” So I asked, “Why don’t you try working out at home?” (Rocket science, right? This is why they pay me the big bucks). My client grinned, “Challenge accepted.” That night, he sent me a triumphant email: “Just got off the elliptical!” And he kept it going — this small change had changed everything. And if he hadn’t realized that the office gym was not for him, he would have been disappointed forever.

Now for a more personal example. You might know that I proselytize work-life balance, despite having struggled to master it most of my life. The science on this is pretty clear: Working too much makes us stupider, more depressed, less healthy and less successful.

And during a recent interview on the subject, I suddenly recognized just how delusional I had become. If you regularly work 70 hours a week, advising people to work fewer hours is, to put it mildly, totally ridiculous.

After that realization, I sprang into action — I decided that I was going take Fridays off. I’m proud to report that last week was my second “Fun Friday.” And even though I’m still working too much the six other days of the week, this is a huge step for me.

So… what truths are you conveniently ignoring or refusing to accept? And how can you jolt yourself back to reality? Here are three tips:

1. Get objective feedback

Other people typically see us more objectively than we see ourselves. I once coached an executive who thought he was an amazing boss. But when I spoke with his team, they reported that he was a total jerk. Was he a bad person? Of course not! No one had ever been honest with him. So find someone who will tell you the truth, keep an open mind, and get an objective perspective. Ask them:

“What do you think about this? What am I missing?”
“What am I doing here that’s helping ? What am I doing that’s getting in my way?”

2. Change your perspective

Seeing your situation from a different angle is often a game-changer. An easy way to do this is to imagine that your situation is happening to someone else. For example, if my work-life balance hypocrisy was happening to a friend of mine, I would have said, “For goodness sake! You can’t carry on like this! Stop it. Right now.” To get this clarity, ask yourself:

“How would I react if this were happening to a friend?
“What advice would I give this person?”

3. Analyze the situation

As psychologist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman states, “Overconfidence is a powerful source of illusions.” In other words, you may be confident, but you might also be wrong. Certainly, listen to your gut. But you also have to rigorously analyze the situation. Ask yourself:

“What are the facts and probabilities here?”
“What are my biases? How are they influencing me?”

Let’s say you want to quit your desk job to start a restaurant. The facts are: You hate your job, you’re a great cook, and you need a steady income to pay your mortgage. In your research, you learn that 60 percent of new restaurants fail. Perhaps your bias is that being a great cook guarantees a successful restaurant. This simple analysis has made the right decision pretty clear: You can’t even think about starting a restaurant until you have a better financial cushion.

If you follow the three steps above, you’ll find yourself beginning to accept reality in no time at all. More importantly, you’ll be more confident, more successful and less anxious. If you ask me, that’s a huge payoff.

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