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Habits in a Hybrid World

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For many of us, the disruptions in how we live and work during the pandemic provided perspective on changes we wanted to make in our lives. We started new projects, new hobbies, reconnected with friends, and, sometimes, we found ourselves in new ruts.

As many of us head back into the office full or part time (or permanently transition to working from home), it’s the perfect time to evaluate our current habits and cultivate new ones to add to our happiness and productivity.

Recently, I sat down with Gretchen Rubin on LinkedIn Live’s Office Hours to discuss how we can use this moment of flux to make ourselves happier and more productive.

Here are a few ways to do that.

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The Power of Doing Nothing

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You’ve got work to-do lists, home to-do lists, personal to-do lists, returning-to-the-office to-do lists – the list of lists goes on and on. But how often is doing nothing on your to-do list?

It might seem counterintuitive, but adding nothing to your to-do list can help you become more productive.

On the most recent episode on my live-streaming show Inside Scoop, I spoke with Pandit Dasa, author of Closing the Apps in Your Mind and Urban Monk, mindfulness leadership expert, CEO, and former NYC monk  – who offered his insight on how doing nothing can help you accomplish everything.

1) Closing the apps in your mind.

This is more than just the title of Pandit’s book – closing the apps in your mind is a metaphor for why meditation is so important. When too many apps are open on your smart device it clutters the machine, slows down its functions, and drains the battery.

And your brain works the same way.

Taking time to breathe and do nothing increases your awareness of your own thoughts, which can help you let negative or unhelpful thoughts pass without judgement.

2) How closing out your apps helps you.

But why is noticing your thoughts and letting them pass so important? Pandit brings up a Psychology Today article which says we have thousands of thoughts in a day and all of them impact us whether we realize it or not. He goes on to say, every three or four seconds our mind opens a new thought tab, and even though we don’t remember all the thoughts, “it still exhausts us.”

Ever find yourself having an imaginary fight or preparing for a situation that might not even happen? Or worrying about something that happened in the past for a little too long? Only to realize you’ve lost a chunk of your day accidentally? That’s what happens when all your apps are open.

It’s easy to get distracted and sucked into a thought without realizing, the same way you can fall into an internet rabbit hole. And that really cuts into your productivity and stress levels, throwing your whole day off.

Pandit explained it perfectly, “A calm mind is a great foundation on which the rest of the day can be built.” And a calm mind makes for a healthier and happier mind and life. Taking the time to exist in the quiet, hear your thoughts, and let them pass, can help you stay focused in the present moment, increase your creativity, productivity, and decrease your stress and irritability.

3) Preparing to do nothing.

It’s easier to talk about meditation than to do it. Pandit recommends putting “yourself on the calendar.” Adding meditation to your to-do list is one of the best ways to ensure you do it (and don’t open more apps on your phone – or in your mind.)

And don’t worry, you don’t need to clear two hours every morning the way Pandit did during his days at the monastery when he was a monk. You just need to find a few minutes at a time that’s convenient for you. For some people first thing in the morning, for some before bed, and for others it’s the middle of the day. I like to meditate in the morning or else I find that I never get to it.

As Pandit reminds me, the most important part of meditation is doing it – not how long or what time you do it. Adding that if we don’t put ourselves on the calendar, “if we don’t prepare to do nothing, we’ll end up doing something, while we’re doing nothing.”

4) Is there a best way to do nothing?

There is no best way to meditate. Pandit suggests trying different ways and sticking with the method that works best for you. You can try taking a walk outside alone or with your pet, closing your eyes and paying attention to your breath before a big meeting, using apps like Calm, or simply putting your device away and looking out the window while eating lunch.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel the difference right away. Meditation is a practice – so it takes time and continuous practice to start noticing the effects. As long as your device is away, you’re focused on your breath. If, like Pandit, you ask your thoughts to “please stay in the waiting room” of your mind for a few minutes, you’re on the right track.

And if you’re not sure how to clear the time for meditation, check out my LinkedIn Learning course, How to Set Boundaries and Protect Your Time, which includes tips on how to prioritize your needs throughout the day.

It may feel a little strange to do at first, but a little bit of “nothing” can go a long way towards increasing your productivity and happiness. And who doesn’t want that?

You can check out our full conversation and kick start your meditation practice with a meditation led by Pandit here!

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Designing a Home Office for Productivity

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We all know the difference between a work space that does and doesn’t work. It’s usually pretty intuitive — especially when you’re working in a place that is hampering your productivity. 

Despite this, many people have trouble pinpointing what elements work together to create a space that does work.

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Sleep Your Way to Well-Being + Productivity

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BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

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Sleep is one of the most powerful tools for productivity and all-around well-being. But too many of us are struggling with consistent sleep routines that work with our natural rhythms. 

It’s so important to get a good sleep routine down. Insomnia actually costs the world economy $818 billion per year in lost productivity!

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Money-Making Productivity Tips

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BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

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Imagine the life you really want to be living. What does it include?

For many people, the answer includes traveling to new places, eating good food, visiting friends and family, and living in a comfortable environment. 

Well, all of those things require financial planning skills!

Jennifer Barrett, financial expert and author of the book Think Like a Breadwinner, joined me on my live-streaming show Inside Scoop. We talked about how to rethink your approach to finances in order to create the life you really want.

1. Look at the shorter-term.

Jennifer says that many of us think that all we need to think about is saving for retirement and having a rainy day fund. But that view is limiting — you’re leaving out all the things you want to do before retirement!

Jennifer suggests having short-term savings goals that line up with your life goals. Do you want to have children or start a small business? Well, both of those things require money. Jennifer says it’s a good idea to align your investment plan with the amount of money you’ll need for the milestones you want to achieve.

2. This doesn’t have to be hard.

For many people, especially women, the messaging we’ve been getting is that financial literacy is complicated. But Jennifer says that’s just not true!

When it comes to investing in the stock market, Jennifer suggests checking out the S&P 500 list of companies. Those investments will probably be safer for beginners. If you’re struggling to decide which stocks to buy, let your interests guide you!

Jennifer’s grandmother actually led the way for her on this one — she invested in companies whose products she used or was interested in!

You don’t have to move around your stocks, either. Jennifer says that leaving your investments to grow until you need them is probably your best bet. 

3. Set yourself up for success at work.

Jennifer has some productivity tips for work, too. You can try focusing on “promotable work” — the things you do that will help you get to the next stage in your career.

Spending your time and energy on what researcher John Williams calls “office housework” (like ordering food for meetings) is probably not the best use of your time. Those tasks often fall to women because they want to be helpful. But that means missing out on productivity and promotions. 

You don’t have to be rude or unhelpful — just balance your time and priorities so that you are not doing unseen labor.

Want more money-making tips? You can watch our full conversation here.

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BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

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