Guest post by Jennifer Boyle from Peace + Hotness
You already know delivering an effective, action inspiring message requires focussed and clear content.
But what about you?
If you’re scattered, overwhelmed and high strung, how can you expect your message to be concise and engaging?
Your frame of mind reads loud and clear in all work you produce. The more focussed you are, the more succinct your message will be. The more swamped and distracted you are, the more you will struggle with productivity, and the less you will convey the true genius in your product or service.
Over my seven years as a yoga teacher, I’ve picked up some great, meditation inspired tips for improving your superhuman focus.
1) Turn the sound off.
The popular 10-day Vipassana meditation course held all over the world is strictly silent, without any speech, TV or even music. The idea is to create an environment that’s conducive to focus, which aids meditation. Noise is distracting. If you’re in focussed work mode, put your phone on silent, and turn off all the little beeps from Facebook, email and their counterparts. This gives you the control to check your messages when it works for you, and allows your mind to get into a rhythm without interruption. Simply calming the bleeps and pings will do wonders to help you focus.
2) If you work from home, set boundaries around work time and other time.
In most yoga classes, when class starts, it’s game time. You don’t talk to your pals, check your texts or send off a quick tweet. As soon as class finishes, when you’re in the lobby, you do as you please. Likewise, when working, try to keep your other tasks, such as housework and social calls, separate. By setting up containers of time for focussed work, your clients get the attention they deserve, and so do the rest of your duties when you’re done. The timer on your phone is a great tool to set time-specific work goals, as the alarm will usually go off even when the phone is on silent. A simple kitchen timer will also do.
3) Establish rituals.
When I was running my yoga studio, I would start each work day by checking in with my to-do list, prioritizing what needed to get done, and establishing a loose plan for the day based on what meetings and obligations I had. No matter what was going on, this always got done. It grounded me and helped prevent overwhelm. Business and personal coaches often recommend rituals because they are good for your internal rhythm and help you establish good habits. Establishing rituals will also help you optimize your most creative times of the day, so when you’re working, be aware of when you feel most inspired, and create a ritual around it to encourage the flow.
4) Eat whole, low glycemic foods.
Some foods are beneficial to eat before yoga, and some will make your class a frazzled mess, resulting in poor balance, irregular breathing, and a thumping heart rate. The same principle applies to work. Sugar, excessive coffee, and processed foods, although convenient and quick in their energy boost, will result in crashes, depression, increased anxiety and overall stunted focus and creativity. Whole foods are a great alternative. Check out these ten easy, healthy breakfast ideas to get you started.
5) Use technology to stay more present.
Teaching and practicing yoga effectively requires your presence of mind. This is partly why a yoga studio is usually clutter free and clear of distractions (aside from scantily clad hotties bending over and grunting). I use ‘full screen’ and ‘mute’ mode on my MacBook to eliminate visual and auditory clutter. I also use the ‘read later’ option in my browser when I come across an article while researching, but don’t want to interrupt my flow. Smart mailboxes and alphabetized folders will help you organize your email and documents efficiently, and specific junk filters help prevent an overflowing inbox. Here is a list of tools that are either free, or super cheap, that you can enlist to help you stay on track.
In yoga, ‘Savassana’, or ‘dead body pose’ is a posture that requires conscious relaxation. Generally performed lying on your back in a neutral position, this asana is integral to restoring the body and mind, and creates balance as well as internal calm. Athletes use this principle to optimize their energy in sports, and you can use it to increase your focus. Even the New York Times is buzzing with the benefits of relaxation. The importance of restoration cannot be overlooked if you want to be in top form with your work.
7) Come back to your breath.
I know, now I really sound like a yoga teacher. But trust me when I say that yoga and focus go hand in hand. Yoga means ‘union’, the marriage between your body and your mind, and your breath is the connection between the two. So if you want to channel the artistry from your mind through your fingertips, you need to get in the zone, and your breath can help you do that. Next time you’re noticing your anxiety levels rising, or feel like you’re grasping for focus, stop. Close your laptop or step outside. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose. No need to visualize, chant or repeat a mantra. Just feel your breath going in through your nose. Exhale however you want, but just bring your full awareness to the act. Repeat as necessary.
When all the distractions and noise cease and you’re present with your work, that’s when you can tap into your true genius.
Jen Boyle, writer and entrepreneur, is founder of PeaceandHotness.com and co-founder of TheVeganProject.com. She has been teaching yoga and practicing meditation since 2005. Follow her on Twitter @peaceandhotness and like her on Facebook.