This article was originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily (www.thelawyersdaily.ca), part of LexisNexis Canada Inc.
This global crisis has turned many of our lives upside down. We are all adjusting to a sudden, unexpected new way of working and living such as moving from a firm environment to a home office and collaborating with colleagues and clients remotely. As our work and home lives collide and our social isolation rises, it's easy to feel overwhelmed, disconnected and distracted.
Integrating mindfulness into your daily life can help you take a step back, see things from new perspectives and feel more equipped to deal with the constantly changing new world we now live in. Here are some tips to help you decrease stress, be more productive and feel generally happier!
Your personal and professional to-do lists have likely begun to merge and overlap at this point in the pandemic. It’s easy to want to multitask as a way to tackle the list - but don’t do it!
People lose an average of 2.1 hours per day getting back on track when switching between tasks. Multitasking has also been found to increase production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Having your brain constantly change tasks ramps up stress and leaves you feeling mentally exhausted.
Before tackling your to-do list, try a Take 5 practice (learn how). This will help you gain clarity and prioritize which tasks need to be completed first and which ones can be done later.
Focus on one task at a time. If something truly requires you to focus on a second task, leave your first task in a place that you can easily go back to later. Only move onto the next task when you can give your complete attention to it.
Online Meetings: Turn Off to Turn On
Online meetings present yet another temptation to multitask! Instead, take two minutes to close other tasks you were working on before starting the meeting. Close your email inbox and turn off notifications. These all distract you and limit your ability to effectively and meaningfully contribute.
Set an Intention Before a Conversation
Before your next conversation with a client or colleague, take a moment to set an intention for how you’d like to show up for that meeting. Write down one word to describe a value, commitment or mindset you’d like to embody and place it somewhere where you can see it. We so often get blown off course from our intentions, which isn’t bad or wrong, it’s just human. Bringing your attention back to your intention again and again, is the practice of mindfulness-in-action.
Know your Triggers
Is your fuse running short these days? You aren’t alone if you answered yes. Our current situation creates a host of new stressors that leave us bubbling and closer to overflowing. Stress is like a thermometer - we need to get better at decreasing our temperature and develop mechanisms for regulating if we start to run hot, so we have more runway before blowing a gasket.
Awareness is your first line of defence here. Name and write down your top three triggers that tend to tip you over the edge. Triggers cause us to fall into long-held patterns like hitting potholes in the road. Even with awareness, we’ll continue to take the same path and fall into the same holes. With practice however, we learn strategies to get out, avoid the holes and even begin taking a new route.
The boundaries between work and home life have blurred. It’s important to create new ways of maintaining separation between the two.
Make transitions between work and personal life a mindful practice - you can take five minutes to sit, breathe and shift from work to home or take a walk around the block and then re-enter your home as if you were returning from work. These simple behaviours signal a transition between home and work and can help you enjoy the best of both your personal and professional lives!
Make Time for Real Connection
Don’t let workplace chat tools take the place of actual human connection. Whether it’s to collaborate on a project or simply to see how your colleagues are doing, switching to video calls when possible can help create more mindful conversations. Video brings back the nuances of voice, body language and natural human contact we are accustomed to in real life interactions.
While our lives may look very different from before the pandemic began, what helps us stay focused, productive and happy hasn’t really changed. We may just need to be more intentional about it now. Mindfulness is key.