I’ve written about how helpful meditation has been to keeping me grounded and sane, especially during stressful times when work and life are busy. For my irregular schedule, I find it easiest and most beneficial to do small meditations – sometimes only two minutes – throughout the day. My husband knows how much I find these breaks helpful and recently shared a website with my that is designed specifically for taking a calm, peaceful break. The website is aptly named calm.com. The site itself is simple and easy to use: choose a background (if you’d like to look at a peaceful image) and then choose a meditation method – guided or non-guided, and finally choose a length of the meditation.
For the past several months, I’ve been trying to take focused breaks away from my computer and work. I used to feel guilty about stepping away from my laptop — from deadlines and people waiting on me — but I finally started to listen to my brain and my body. The best thing? I’ve noticed a dramatic uptick in my productivity when I limit the time I’m in front of my screen. I see it as giving my brain a break – a break from the code I’m writing or the mock-up I’m creating – and a chance to idle or wander. I notice that, after working for a period of time, my mind has trouble focusing. I’ll switch between tasks more often. I’ll check social media sites. That’s usually my cue that I need a break.
This week’s tip is about finding two minutes to meditate. Mindfulness-based meditation has been a popular buzzword for the past couple of years as it’s gotten some [well-deserved] press and companies like Google have launched Mindful Lunches. But, when it comes to mindfulness meditation, I’ve always struggled with finding uninterrupted time to do my meditation, especially on a consistent basis. So, I’ve modified my expectation and the time I do my meditations to just two minutes. For two minutes, I find a peaceful spot or moment – while taking a shower, or in the morning after the kids are at preschool and just before I begin my work – and I focus on my breath. Just for two minutes. Sometimes, my mind flits around and I find myself continually drawing it back to my breath. The more I practice these two minute meditations, though, the more I find myself looking forward to the short little breaks of peace and the more easily I can focus my breath. I think of it as giving my mind a two minute break away from the chaos and information overload it’s exposed to on a daily basis.
Why two minutes? It’s really about cultivating a habit. When I tried to meditate for 20 or 30 minutes daily, I just wasn’t doing it consistently. You can certainly meditate longer than two minutes, and some days, I do. Some days I meditate multiple times for just two minutes. I know I can always find two minutes every day to meditate and focus my mind. Zenhabits has a great post about How to Meditate Daily. It starts with two minutes and gives tips on growing that habit.
Image by Bes Z (CC BY 2.0) via flickr
I’ve written a lot on this blog about the challenges of raising a family, working from home, work-life “balance” (hah!), and growing a small business. I love all of these things – it’s very important to me to be available to my kids and my family and it’s also important to me to challenge myself through the work I do in the web design world. Yet, there’s a point when it becomes not fun – when I feel too busy, too stressed, too drained… and life just overwhelms me. I felt that a lot through the late summer and fall of last year. I was struggling with my workload. There was never enough time. Never enough sleep. I was too busy and couldn’t keep my head above water.
I often come across little tidbits of knowledge that I think are helpful to me in terms of business, productivity, web development, or just life, in general. These tips may have been inspired because I’ve come across a good tip on another, I’ve figured out the answer to a problem, or a client asked me a question. I’m going to post them here under “Tip of the Week”. I’ll try to post them every Friday.
This week’s tip is about staying focused in a digital world. “Time management” has always been a key player in the productivity world. For me, though, in addition to time management, I also need to work on my attention management. I only have so many hours in the day where I get to do actual, focused work. Those hours need to be spent in a focused manner, but there are times when I find myself flipping between my computer and iPhone, checking my Instagram feed, then hopping over to email, and then back to the website I’m working on. I’m caught up in distractions and not doing the focused meaningful work I should be. It’s hard to even identify that I’m in “distraction mode” and even harder to pull myself out of that mode. I notice that I tend to get into this mode when I’ve been working late at night, for a long period of time in one spot, or when I feel overwhelmed with my workload and don’t have a clear task list.
I came across a great article with several good points on what to do when I notice I’ve fallen into the trap of constant task switching. Leo Babauta over at zenhabits.com writes his four-point list of simple solutions:
- Assess what’s important and focus on that task
- Simplify by letting go of the idea that everything must get done today
- Clear everything, including open browser tabs and windows on your computer
- Stay with the moment; acknowledge the urge to go check your Facebook page, but also try to realize that this may be less important than your current task
Check out the full article on zenhabits.
Image by Bes Z (CC BY 2.0) via flickr