5 Ways to Focus When Your To-Do List Has A Million Things On It

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Part of the solution to focusing better is letting go of the strongly held “anti-focus” beliefs you may not even realize you have. Here are the top 5 that make us lose valuable time and keep us feeling swamped. And what you can do instead.

5 Focus Beliefs and How to Change Them

  1. Belief: If I don’t do something as soon as I think of it, I’ll forget it. Antidote: Write it down on a running list you keep on your phone (or notebook) and do it after you finish what you’re working on. Don’t change tasks each time you remember something and don’t bog your brain down trying to remember this type of information. Write it on something and stay the course.

  2. Belief: Working on a few things at once will help me get through my to-do list faster. Antidote: To see for yourself, this may take a leap of faith. You need to actually put the blinders on, ignore the other things needing to be done, and do only one-thing-at-a-time to see for yourself. Go ahead, set your stopwatch. Science is on your side.

  3. Belief: Distractions of my choosing are okay, it’s the other ones that eat away at my time. Antidote: Micro-time losses add up over the course of the day regardless of whether we are consciously initiating them or not. Each time we stop what we’re doing to quickly zip off this email, check the notifications on our phone, or look up that one little thing, even if we are choosing to do so, we lose time transitioning back to our original task. Bottom line, fight the urges to interrupt your attention to what you’re doing. Squirrel!

  4. Belief: There’s not enough time in the day to do everything but I’ll pretend there is and waste energy on stressing about getting everything done! Antidote: Hate to get all tough love on you but you’ll truly benefit from coming to terms with reality here. Even if you have folks knocking down your door, when it’s literally not possible to get everything done, don’t get pulled into crazytown over it. Stress takes up valuable time and energy so allocate it wisely to things in your control. Take a deep breath and know your sense of what you can do is based on reality. Calmly press on forward.

  5. Belief: I don’t know what to do first and since I need to do the absolute first thing first if I don’t know what that is, what do I do? Antidote: Do the hardest thing or the part that you are least looking forward doing first. If a priority order isn’t readily apparent, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with this strategy. Your plan B should be doing the thing at the top of your list. Your plan C should be doing them in alphabetical order. Plan D close your eyes and point to one and do it. Plan E…you get the point, just do something. When you continuously work on your list, prioritization becomes more apparent. It’s sorta like magic.

Huge to-do lists and distractions are here to stay. These 5 strategies will help you replace work-overwhelm with work-momentum!


5 Types of Meditators. Which Are You?

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Here are five highly unscientific types of meditators: The Executive, The Rebel, The Caregiver, The Early Adopter, and The Questioner. Which one describes you?

  1. The Executive

You are a take-charge kind of person and deal with things head on, rationally and logically. You like to get things done right the first time and often do that. You are competent and good at decision-making. You are long-range thinker who can translate your ideas into solid plans of action.

You come to meditation to help you be the best you can be. You believe your success is a result largely of your ability to think about things 24/7. So, although you understand the touted benefits of meditation, you don’t particularly want to mess with your thoughts. You are a bit cautious to interfere with what you have going on and are super close to dismissing the whole thing as a waste of time, but do it anyway because you are the driven type. And to not be able to succeed in something as basic as meditate would be, well, insulting.

2. The Rebel

You like to determine your own course of action and don’t really like being told what to do. You are motivated by a sense of freedom and self-determination. When you think about what everyone else is doing, you usually choose something else, and aren’t afraid to go it alone.

You come to meditation because you realize in order to truly be free and self-determined; you have to be more aware of how your thoughts influence you. And to do this you have to have more awareness of your thoughts in general. So, although you understand meditation is an excellent way to increase awareness, you are a bit put off by someone telling you how to meditate or doing something that seems so trendy now. But you do it anyway because no one expects you to do it.

3. The Caregiver

You are kind, conscientious, and can be depended on in a pinch. You follow through on commitments. You usually put the needs of others above your own and are extremely perceptive of other’s feelings. You are good at creating harmony and use your skills to avoid conflict. You are generally traditional and prefer to do things the established way.

You come to meditation because, truth be told, your caregiver tendencies are wearing you out. You need to find a way to recharge your own batteries in order to continuing doing the things you enjoy doing. So, although you are eager to have a meditation practice, you’re a bit unsure how you are going to fit it in because you don’t want it to come at the expense of not being there for others. But you do it anyway because you know it will help you help others better.

4. The Early Adopter

You are a risk taker, optimist and like to try new things. You thrive on information and regularly share your knowledge with other people. You are assertive and ambitious. Your opinion is respected and valued in matters when making decisions. You are able to deal with abstractness and have a favorable attitude toward change.

You come to meditation because you know it is the enlightened thing to do. Although it is 5000 years old, it is still a pretty new practice around these parts and you want to be in on it. So, although you are on board with starting a meditation practice, you are a bit worried it is going to make you soft or take away your assertive and ambitious edge. But you do it anyway because just because you weren’t the first, you don’t want to be the last one getting on the meditation train.

5. The Questioner

You are curious and enjoy a more introspective approach to things. You like to learn about “why” things are the way they are and are always looking for the deeper meaning of things. You have an enviable ability to hold a lot of complex and sometime competing concepts in your head.

You come to meditation looking for answers. You see meditation as a vehicle to deepening your understanding the metaphysical nature of life. So, although meditation is right up your alley, you’re a bit skeptical to do the same thing as people who are doing it to up their creativity quotient or calm themselves down. But you do it anyway because you just can’t help yourself.

5 Stealthy Chair Yoga Stretches That Won’t Get You Laughed Out of the Office


Time flies when you’re in the flow. And before you know it, you’ve been sitting at your comfy co-working spot for hours! Even though your mind feels like it can time travel without a problem, your body definitely starts to feel it. Hours spent in the same slouched or other posture-compromising position starts to take it’s toll on us. It’s as if our bodies cozy up a little too much with the whole ‘path of least resistance’ thing and forget that a range of motion is necessary to keep us at optimal health and comfort. Here are a few seated stretches you can do to stay limber enough to see your projects through to the end! And not look weird in the process.

1.The “Who else is here?” Stretch- This can be your go-to to release tension in your spine and lower back without encouraging funny looks from coworkers. What? You’re just looking around at who else has come in since you opened up the place hours ago.

  • Sit on the edge of your chair with feet on the floor.
  • Place your right hand on your left knee and grab the chair back with your left hand.
  • Gently twist toward the chair and hold for a few breaths.
  • Return to center and switch sides.

2. “I just rocked that section!” Stretch- Take a mid-afternoon refresher to stretch your shoulders, triceps, chest and hands.

  • Sit with your legs hip width apart and feet flat on the floor.
  • Clasp hands in front of you, interlocking your fingers. Stay here for a few breaths
  • Turn your palms outward and raise straight over your head.
  • Bend slowly to the left and hold for two breaths before repeating on the right side.
  • Continue alternating for one minute.

3. “That was such a great idea I just thought of!” Stretch- This one will help you create that deep stretch your neck is craving. For best results, visualize your neck lengthening and the muscles along your vertebrae relaxing.

  • Sit with your legs hip width apart and feet flat on the floor.
  • Reach over your head and place your right hand on the left side of your head to gently pull your neck away from your shoulders.
  • At the same time, hold firmly onto the chair with your left hand to draw your left shoulder away from your neck.
  • Hold the pose for at least five more breaths, then release your left hand from the chair and gently massage your neck and shoulders with your left hand.
  • Slowly lift the head and switch sides to repeat the sequence.

4. “Okay, so this is how I do it” Stretch- The way we sit for extended periods of time really takes a toll on our bodies. Crossing our legs while seated, especially when done on one side more than the other, can create imbalances in our hips and lower spine. Bring balance back and keep those hip flexors flexible with this stretch.

  • Sit with your legs hip width apart and feet flat on the floor.
  • Cross your right leg over the left at a 90-degree angle and let it drop toward the ground as much as it can.
  • Keep your the foot flexed as to not place pressure on the knee.
  • Distribute equal weight between the sitting bones while staying in an upright seated position.
  • You should feel a gentle to moderate stretch on the outermost part of the right thigh.
  • Hold 5 to 10 breaths before switching sides.

5. “What project should I crush next? Stretch- With this one, breathe deeply while stretching out your shoulders, back, chest, and hands.

  • Sit with your legs hip width apart and feet flat on the floor.
  • Interlace your fingers in front of you.
  • Inhale and stretch your arms straight over your head.
  • lower your hands to behind your head on an exhale.
  • With your clasped hands behind your head, take three breaths as you gently stretch your elbows back until you feel the stretch.
  • Inhale and raise above your head, keeping fingers interlaced.
  • Unlace your hands and lower your hands to your sides on an exhale.

Try incorporating some of these each day so when a powder day comes, you’re ready! What are some of the things you do to help during those long days at your computer?

4 Simple Ways to Up Your Creativity and Impress Your Boss (or Yourself!)

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Creativity is increasingly becoming a top-tier asset in today’s economy. It helps us with everything from consistently generating viral content to being able to solve problems at work to having the next business idea that totally disrupts an entire industry, and everywhere in between. You can set yourself apart and make valuable contributions wherever you are by cultivating the ability to see things in new ways and tap into your creativity on the regular.

Want the edge you need to think creatively and productively?

Here are 4 tricks of the trade:

  • Sleep on it. The half-asleep and half-awake times are the Holy Grail of diffuse thinking and breakthrough ideas. It is a time when our focused thinking is on pause so our diffuse thinking can rule the roost. And that it does!

So to use this time effectively, pose a specific question or idea for your brain to noodle on while you are going to sleep each night. In doing this, you are deliberately guiding your brain to find associations and connections in the direction you want.  When you wake up, spend the first 5 minutes journaling. Capture the first thoughts, ideas and insights that come to you.

  • Take a walk. Mason Curry, of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, studied the habits of nearly 200 of the world’s most prolific inventors and innovators over the ages and found that they all had one thing in common, they took walks. If you want to help activate your diffuse thinking/breakthrough idea mode start taking more walks.

Your walks don’t have to be a certain length of time but long enough for you to settle into a mind-wandering rhythm. Like the strategy above, before your walk deliberately invite your diffuse mind to work on a specific problem or outcome you’re working on. As you walk, take in the sights, smells and sounds you encounter. Pro tip: walking for diffuse thinking purposes works much better in environments that are less busy so your focused thinking brain doesn’t have to be engaged to help you navigate your surroundings.

  • Take a break. You can power your way through a lot of things, but creativity is not one of them. If you’re involved in a project that requires creative thinking or innovative problem solving, you’ll be better off if you just take a break and stop thinking about whatever you’re thinking about.

Totally counterintuitive, I know. But in light of what scientists have learned about how absolutely vital our diffuse thinking mode is, it totally makes sense. So after you’ve reached a point where you’re not making progress on whatever it is you are working on, take a break from it. Move on to something else, or better yet, set your timer for 10 minutes, lean back and let your mind daydream away!

  • Open Monitoring Meditation. In contrast to the more popular focused attention meditation (i.e. returning your attention to your breath), there is no object for you to focus on during your meditation. You start out by finding a comfortable position, relaxing your body and setting a timer for a short period of time. The aim here is to be aware of the thoughts or experiences that arise in your mind and to stay in a monitoring state of attention to them.

Without selecting, judging, or focusing on any specific thought, you allow yourself to be aware of things your mind is bouncing around on. You practice being an observer, not a director or controller, of your thoughts. The idea isn’t that you are going to stumble upon your breakthrough idea during this type of meditation but that you’ll strengthen your brain’s ability to allow the jumping around of ideas and create more associations.

Try one or all of these strategies and see for yourself! What are some things you do to build in diffuse thinking time?