Do you find yourself more productive in the morning than the afternoon? Do your afternoons feel more like a jumbled mess of checking emails and trying to keep your head above water until 5pm hits?
What if you could have a SECOND wave of energy after lunch? A time you could really count on, to get SHIT done. Work you could really be proud of. What price would you pay for that? Would you pay with your time?
The challenge men like you and I have is that we are such hard workers that we can’t dare consider taking that time to reset our body and mind. It feels like a waste. It’s why we eat through lunch. It’s the perpetual treadmill. We answer one more email, take one more meeting, make one more phone call. It feels like we are being more productive but chances are we aren’t.
So how do you improve this?
One great way is through the recent trend of mindfulness. And before you say anything, it’s not just for women. It can be especially powerful for men.
Research shows that practicing just 10 minutes of mindfulness per day helps to improve productivity by being able to stay more focused. It has also been shown to increase the sense of happiness.
As a busy professional, here’s a practical way to incorporate mindfulness which involves your body as well.
What you need:
A phone set to timer mode, an undisturbed room and an exercise mat (if you can) for comfort.
What you do:
After lunch go into your quiet (office?) room, shut the door, turn off the lights and computer monitor. Take off your shoes, undo your belt and undo the button on your pants (don’t get too excited here…that’s as far as it goes). Grab out your phone, turn it to airplane mode, set the timer to 10 minutes. Lay on your back on your mat and hit start.
Body- You are first going to relieve tension in the body through a series of stretches. Just a quick disclaimer that you should always consult with your health care professional before performing exercise or stretches. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.
The first stretch is bringing your knees towards your chest, hugging them and gently rocking side to side to massage your lower back.
Next is a spinal twist performed by putting your hands out to your sides, then lift your knees up over your hips and gently bring your knees to one side of your body whilst looking across the opposite direction, then change sides.
The last stretch is called “happy baby”. Bring your legs over your chest, reach up to grab your feet, then spread your legs as wide as you comfortably can and gently rocking back and forth.
Breathing – Take 10 long slow breathes. Aim for diaphragmatic breathes where you breathe in through you nose and expand your stomach first then your chest secondthen exhale slowly and collapse your chest first then stomach. Keep awareness to your breath.
Brain – Take a moment to feel your body. Notice how much more relaxed it feels. Now focus on the spot between your eyes on your brow. As thoughts come up, don’t resist them or engage with them, notice they are happening and let them drift through you. If you find this difficult you can always bring your attention back to your breathing. Remember it is perfectly normal to be distracted by thoughts. Let them come up and let them pass. Stay in this state until your alarm goes off.
Now go forth and be fruitful in your afternoon! Notice if you can stay more focused in your work.
Make this a daily habit and watch what happens to your productivity.
Miles Lunde has a passion for helping career driven family men maximise the return on their health. He is currently a GM in the health care sector, has an MBA, has been a personal trainer for 13 years as well as a holistic lifestyle coach, husband and father of 2.
1. Mrazek, M.D., Franklin, M.S., Philips, D.T., Baird, B., Schooler, J.W. (2013). Mindfulness Training Improves Working Memory Capacity and GRE Performance While Reducing Mind Wandering. Psychological Science, 24 (5), pp.776-781.
2. Killingsworth, M.A., Gilbert, D.T. (2010). A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind, Science, 330, p. 932.
Image by: Linvoyage: https://www.flickr.com/photos/linvoyage/
Image location: https://www.flickr.com/photos/linvoyage/14996835235/in/photolist-oRdGCK