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Learn how to get more work done in the office with less stress
By Alexandra Gekas

While your co-workers start every day enjoying a cup of coffee together in the break room, you’re barely able to find time to call your doctor. While they’re taking lunches, you’re rushing through another meal at your desk. Sound familiar? Here’s the good news: This apparent discrepancy may not mean you’ve got a bigger workload or that you’re a harder worker. Instead, it may mean that they’ve mastered certain time-saving skills and habits that you haven’t—until now. From prioritizing your workload to learning which projects don’t need to be perfect, read on to discover eight workplace habits that’ll boost your productivity and lower your stress levels.

1. They make it a point to take breaks.
Americans seem to think that constantly working is synonymous with being productive, but unless your brain is functioning at its maximum level, you may not be getting as much work done as you think. “[Taking breaks] is like hitting the reset button. It helps you empty out your ‘brain cache’ so you have room to refill it,” says Christine Hohlbaum, author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World. First and foremost, she recommends taking lunch every day—and leaving your desk to do it. “When you have a ‘working lunch,’ it’s just not very efficient. At some point you’re going to lose attention,” she says. Ultimately, eating while you work will cause you to suffer on two fronts: you won’t be able to pay attention to your food—a surefire way to overeat—and you won’t be giving your work the proper attention it deserves. In addition to a “real” lunch break, Hohlbaum suggests allotting time for other breaks as well. She recommends taking five minutes in the morning, before starting work, and at least a 10- to 15-minute break in the afternoon. Whether you take a short walk, read a book or stare out of the window with a cup of tea, it’ll help you recharge and improve your overall productivity. “It’s really important to take time off because otherwise your brain will reach a saturation point,” Hohlbaum says, explaining that when this happens, it becomes hard to focus on even the simplest task. “At that point, you need to push away from your computer and take a break.”

2. They start their day off on the right foot.
According to a recent study at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, if an employee is in a bad mood when they arrive at work—whether because of familial problems or a stressful commute—it can decrease their productivity by as much as 10% that day. So unless you come in to the office every day in a great mood (and who does?), start your day with 5 to 10 minutes of time dedicated to decompressing. “Create a ritual. Maybe it’s meeting in the coffee break room or going around the office to greet everyone. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you foster a sense of connection [with your coworkers],” Says Holhbaum. “Swinging by to say ‘hi’ to your colleagues when you walk in gives you a sense of focus. When you feel you’re part of a bigger effort, you feel more connected to why you’re there and that can make all the difference in the world.” Re-focusing your mind at the beginning of the day will also create a sense of calm, helping you to disregard outside stressors and zero in on your daily tasks. “If we’re actually able to start the day centered, then we’ll have a longer tolerance period before we get off track,” Holhbaum says.

3. They make mindful food choices.
You are what you eat, and eating a heavy mid-day meal will often make you feel lethargic for the rest of the afternoon. “Consider what you’re eating at lunch. If you’re having that post-pasta slump at 2 p.m., and need java or cookies to pep back up, maybe you should try a salad or something a bit lighter so you won’t lag,” suggests Hohlbaum. The key is keeping your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day, according to Kari Kooi, RD, corporate wellness dietician at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, who recommends three light meals and two snacks at regular intervals. “Heavy meals can make you feel sluggish because they require more energy to digest,” Kooi says. “[A quality lunch] will consist of a fiber-rich carbohydrate, like water-rich veggies, and a lean protein, like chicken or fish,” she says. And what does Kooi suggest you avoid? “A highly processed meal, like some of the frozen meals in the grocery store, will not give you the sustainable energy you need. The less processed the better when it comes to keeping your energy levels up.” When you hit that midday slump, Kooi suggests going for proteins like mixed nuts and fruit instead of the usual energy-zapping pretzels, cookies or candy, which cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then drop and may even make you hungrier, according to Kooi.

4. They keep a flexible to-do list.
Making a daily list of to-dos is a great way to stay on top of your work. However, there is one pitfall—it can make you inflexible. “A lot of people feel their day’s been wrecked if they have to change their plan, but the most effective people understand that’s part of the job,” says Vicki Milazzo, author of Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman. “I always start my day with a plan, but by 9 a.m. I’ve busted that plan.” However, according to Paula Rizzo, a master list-maker and founder of ListProducer.com, it’s important to keep some form of a to-do list, no matter how much your day changes. For example, Rizzo begins her days with a master list, which she continually updates throughout the course of the day to note the items that haven’t been done or to add tasks as they crop up. Before leaving work, Rizzo will make a fresh list for the next day. The key, she says, is referencing the changing list throughout the day to keep herself on course. “Just putting a little extra work into it will keep you on track.”

5. They use technology with intent.
In today’s 24/7 all-access world, it’s hard to get a handle on technology use. While it’s impossible to avoid it altogether, you can be disciplined about how much time you spend perusing the Web. Set aside a specific time, say 15 minutes after lunch, to scroll through your social networking sites or other favorite websites—and stick to it. Or try something like Google Chrome’s website blocker, which allows you to set restrictions to your online time by either totally blocking your favorite websites or just restricting the timeframes within which you are allowed to check them. In addition to surfing the Internet, it’s important to watch your email habits. Whether you give yourself 15 to 30 minutes at a set time each day to check your personal email, or you allow yourself brief intervals between tasks, Holhbaum says the key is to be very mindful of the time you’re spending checking your non-work inbox. “Have a very clear distinction between what’s personal and what’s work. If that’s a part of your ‘OK I need to zone out for a little bit’ time, that’s fine. But you need to be clear and be mindful of what you’re doing.” Even work-related emails can become a distraction if not properly managed. Ask yourself if email is the best method of communication, or if you’re better off calling the person. ”Sending 100 emails isn’t [always] going to be the most productive thing. And as we know, emails beget emails. They’re like little rabbits,” Hohlbaum jokes. “If it’s a one-way communication, for example forwarding an airplane itinerary, you don’t need to have any answer [so email works]. But if you want detail or you know the person won’t respond right away by email, pick up the phone,” she says.

6. They balance their workload.
Different tasks require different levels of concentration, which you can use to your advantage. Start by identifying—and placing—the tasks you have into two categories: weeds and intensive work. Weeds are small, manageable things such as handling email, phone calls and minor organizational tasks. Intensive work is anything that requires an extended period of concentration, such as management tasks, preparing presentations, writing or editing. ”Miscellaneous routine tasks are like weeds in your garden; we all have them, and no matter how often we try to get rid of them, they never go away,” says Milazzo. ”Yet they do have to be handled, and pulling a few weeds can provide a restorative break from more intensive work.” Milazzo recommends splitting up long sessions of intensive work with regular 15- to 30-minute intervals of weed pulling. This way, you’ll accomplish a variety of tasks while not burning out on one type of work.

7. They put perfectionism in its place.
While turning in perfect work has been encouraged since kindergarten, that attitude can be counterproductive if it’s not managed. It’s important to pick your battles. “Women, by nature, are somewhat perfectionist,” says Milazzo. “So we need to distinguish what requires perfectionism,” she says. Of course you want to put your best foot forward in all situations, but if you’re strapped for time, prioritize. If, for example, you’re writing an informal memo or email to a co-worker, give it a quick look and spell-check it, but resist the urge to re-read it three times over. If, on the other hand, you’re creating a brochure for your company or preparing an important presentation, then that’s the time to put all of your perfectionist tendencies to good use.

8. They know how to say “no.”
It’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed at work. But one of the secrets of highly productive people is that they learn when and how to say “no.” For starters, say “no” to whiners, complainers and distracting people. One way to do that, according to Rizzo, is by wearing headphones. “That sends the message that you’re busy and it drowns out the noise as well,” she says. When it comes time to say “no” to the boss, tread lightly but firmly. You don’t have to spell out n-o per se; rather, ask her to prioritize what’s most important given what’s on your plate. “When an employee does that, the boss usually comes to their senses and they get it,” Milazzo says. “You don’t want to make your boss the enemy; you want your boss to know you’re there for the company, and that you’re there for them. If they know that, they’re more likely to listen to what you say.”

Read more: Career Advice – How to be more productive at WomansDay.com – Woman’s Day

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Dreams


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How to balance work, play, and rest.

By Erika Rasmusson Janes

1. FORCE YOUR BRAIN TO DRAW A LINE BETWEEN WORK AND HOME.
"Your ability to do a good job at work depends on whether you have a personal life that refreshes and restores you," says social psychologist Jane Adams. If you can’t stop thinking about work after you leave the office, create a mental filing cabinet. "Sit down in a quiet place, open it, and deal with your work worries. Then, mentally close the cabinet and do something else," she suggests. Try this on Fridays before leaving the office for the weekend — or each night. Mentally lock the cabinet, if necessary.
2. LEAVE MULTITASKING AT THE OFFICE.
You may subconsciously take your office habits — especially multitasking — home with you. You might find yourself washing dishes while phoning your mom, or checking your BlackBerry while in a movie. "We’ve become so used to living in overdrive that we take it as normal, but our bodies don’t," says stress expert Kathleen Hall. To balance work, play, and rest, write down five ways work blends into your playtime. Then, choose one to focus on. If you obsessively check your BlackBerry during your time off, cut back — first by half, then more until you get it down to once a night. By transforming mindless habits into conscious choices, you’ll limit your body’s stress and gain control of your day — and night.
3. MAKE FRIENDS WITH PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF YOUR PROFESSION.
To lead a more fulfilling personal life, expand your exposure to people you don’t work with, says Douglas Rushkoff, author of Get Back in the Box: Innovation from the Inside Out. Otherwise, you’ll constantly be pushed into the role you play at the office. Sign up for an art class, or at yoga, introduce yourself to the woman who’s downward-dogging next to you. Can’t tear yourself away from your desk? Try an Internet-based service like meetup.com that allows people with similar interests to meet and interact online.
4. PUT A TIME LIMIT ON YOUR TALK ABOUT WORK.
If all of your friends work in your industry, set rules when you socialize. Agree to vent, gossip, or strategize for a specific amount of time — say, 10 minutes — and appoint a timekeeper. When the allotted number of minutes is up, deliberately switch the topic — to anything from politics to Paris Hilton.
5. MAKE HOME YOUR SANCTUARY.
To prevent work from invading your home, create a personal project — it will help you recharge and relax but still feel active. Buy canvases and paint, make CDs for friends, or begin a home-improvement project, says Christine Hassler, a life coach for 20-something women. Another tip: Consider cooking. Eating meals in your own kitchen makes your home feel less like a hotel.

source: www.marieclaire.com

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What is Concentration?

Simply put, concentration is a person’s ability to focus his thoughts in a particular direction for a considerable time without getting distracted by other things. Everyone has the ability to concentrate. Some people are quite good with concentrating. There are people though who find it quite difficult to focus their attention in one particular thing without their thoughts wandering. This can be quite frustrating. If you find difficulty concentrating, you need to practice and develop your concentration skills.

Your ability to concentrate may depend on a lot of factors. It can depend on your commitment to your work. It can also depend on your enthusiasm for a project, an assignment, or a work. If you don’t know how to go about doing the job, you might be quite disinterested and end up losing your concentration. If you have problems and you are tired and stressed out, you’d have problems concentrating. If the place is not conducive to concentrating, you might not be able to concentrate on your work at all.

If you want to improve your concentration skills, here are some tips that you can follow:

Concentration is essential to be successful in one’s career. An alert mind is an asset. We need to exercise our brain to improve upon our concentration. Both physical and mental alertness are essential for success in our ventures.

source: www.lifemojo.com

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I really need to get in the habit of thinking like this more often.

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Published August 04, 2005
www.lifescript.com

Have you recently gone through some dramatic and transformative changes in your life? Whether these changes are related to your job, relationships, or spirituality, the shift has taken some getting used to and you need something positive to focus on. You enjoy a lot of different pastimes, but you really want to devote yourself to something you simply love doing. How do you find your passion? Perhaps just as important, how do you turn that passion into something meaningful and substantial in your life? Find out now…
  
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
 
A passion in life isn’t something you’re born with. It’s cultivated by your interests, what stimulates you and what you are genuinely excited about. But what if you want to pursue many avenues and just don’t know which one you’d be the most successful at or want to invest the most time in? Or what if nothing particularly lights the proverbial fire under your bottom, but you have a lot of energy that you could devote to something? Or maybe you’re stuck in a job you despise, but don’t know what other route to take that would truly be fulfilling.
 
Don’t fear. We have plenty of ideas to get your creative juices flowing to find your passion and make something worthwhile of it.
 
Answer these Questions
Answering the following questions is a great exercise in deciding where your passion may lie and what direction to go in. Write down your answers and look for a common theme. Your passion might be so obvious that it jumps right off of the page.
  • What do you love about yourself?
  • What did you want to be when you were a child?
  • If money were no object, what would you want to do?
  • What do you daydream about or think about during downtime?
  • How do others perceive you?
  • List five things you really enjoy doing and five things you’re really good at.
  • Name one thing you’ve always dreamed about doing but never told anyone about.

 

Look Around
Your passion could be right under your nose, but you just might not be in tune with it. Watch out for signs or for moments that inspire you or move you.
 
It might come in the form of a movie, a human interest story from a newspaper or neighbor, or a great ending to a great book. Go through your closet or look through old photo albums. You may have simply “stored” away memories of any passions or inspirations you had as a child or before you were married, had children or started in the work force.
 
Once you’re aware of everything around you, finding your passion might be easier than you originally thought.
  
Network
You know networking is a great tool to use in job hunting, but it’s also ideal to use to help find your passion and turn that passion into a productive endeavor. Let people in on your passion and dreams: They’ll become more of a reality the more you talk about them, and when an opportunity pops up that relates to that passion, they’ll let you know!
 
If the passion you’ve discovered has to do with a dream job, keeping the lines of communication open with all sorts of people will only increase your chances of pursuing your passion and achieving a goal.
  
Get Involved
Getting involved in volunteer projects is a fantastic way to test the passion waters. Start out by volunteering with one group. It can be at a soup kitchen, animal rescue group or reading to children at the library for an hour.
 
Really begin to feel what it means to do something positive for someone else – many people associate their passion with service. They feel it’s their purpose and their calling. Volunteer where you are drawn to, and then volunteer with something at the opposite end of your passion spectrum.
 
The more projects you’re able to experience, the more your imagination will be sparked.
 
Reach for the Stars
Nobody can live your life for you – your destiny is in your hands. If you’ve found your passion, you’re already on your way. If you’ve found a passion that seems a little more intangible than others, give it some serious thought, but don’t be afraid to go for it.
 
Too many people don’t follow their passion because they let the possibility of failure stop them before they even try. How will you know if things are possible if you don’t put yourself out there? Be proactive, reach for the stars and turn your passion into something productive and meaningful that will enrich your life and the lives of others.

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The following yoga tips can help you reenergize, refocus, and realign.

1. Better than caffeine? When you feel yourself dragging at the end of a long, hard day at work, it might seem intuitive to race to the closest coffee shop for a pick-me-up, but a short yoga stretch at your desk may do the trick. Try this energizing pose you can do at your desk. On an inhalation, lift your chest, making a high backbend. Stay here and draw three full, rich breaths into your body. As you exhale, release your hands, place them on your knees and round your spine. Tuck your pelvis and pull your navel away from your knees, coming into a seated Cat Pose. Let your head dangle to open the back of the neck. Repeat several times. (For more information see Office Yoga Tips.)

2. Take a deep breath. Your breath is a relaxation tool that never leaves you. You can access it at work, while you’re running errands, or whenever you feel stressed. Why not try it now? Close your eyes and observe as you take 10 slow, deep breaths in and out through the nostrils. When you’re done you’ll feel calmer, more centered, and more focused. (For more information see Inhale, Exhale, Relax.)

3. Go for a mindful walk. When you think of meditation, you may think of something very serious and focused, but the practice of meditation includes a wide range of techniques you can practice anytime, including many that are appropriate for a mid-day yoga break at home or in the office. To do a walking meditation, simply keep your mind in the present as you take a mindful walk around the office or the block. The idea is not to walk to get somewhere, but simply to enjoy the walk. (For more information see Meditation in Motion.)

4. Pamper your peepers. If you work with computers, detailed documents, or small objects that strain your eyes, you may find that your vision starts to get fuzzy by the end of the day. Taking a break from the intense concentration of work—whatever work you do—is good for everyone. The yogic practice of withdrawing from the senses (Pratyahara) can be both spiritual and mental. When we close our eyes, we move into ourselves and away from the external world. This creates a deep sense of peace. On a physical level, closing our eyes can protect them, calm our bodies, lower our blood pressure, and make it possible for us to concentrate for longer periods of time. So take a yoga break at your desk, or wherever you are, during your work day. Close your door, close your eyes, and surrender to the moment. Your eyes—and your mind—will thank you. (For more information see Cyber Eyes.)

Source: http://www.yogajournal.com/

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