Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and anxious when you sit down to work, rather than organized and productive? When the work is piling up and we can’t seem to find a place to start, we may find ourselves asking the universe how to be less anxious and more productive.
Especially now in quarantine times, it can be really challenging to channel thoughts into creative, productive work rather than obsessing over all that needs to be done and the limiting circumstances. It may feel like we are able to focus on everything EXCEPT what actually needs to be done! Read on to find out how to reduce the anxiety and boost productivity.
**Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I Use all of the products listed below and recommend them because they are companies that I have found helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything listed below!**
Create a To-Do List (INCLUDING BREAKS)
Yes! You read that right. Before you begin anything, create a little to-do list. This will not only remind you of what needs to be done, but also act as a way to hold yourself accountable. If you only have one or two tasks that need to be done, break those down into even smaller steps! For instance, if you need to write a 5 page paper for class, break that down into 1) jot down ideas for paper, 2) start writing for 5 minutes, 3) Complete 5 pages of rough writing, 4) edit, 5) submit! This not only breaks the task down into smaller, more digestible components, but also gives you the satisfaction of checking off boxes along the way!
It’s a lot more satisfying to have a longer to-do list full of smaller, easier tasks than a short to-do list full of lengthy, time consuming tasks. This way you are actually visualizing yourself go through the motions of completing the project which acts as motivation to keep going!
Include breaks in your list to make it feel even better when you feel the need to rest. However, BE SURE to set limits for breaks! Set an amount of time you want to break for (5, 10 minutes) and stick to it. This way you can check it off your list knowing you did exactly what was written, just as you will continue to do for the rest of the list!
Create a List of Worries
This may seem a little weird, but bear with me! If your thoughts are racing about all that needs to be done and the limited time you have to do it, do yourself a favor by writing out your worries.
This acts similarly to journaling about your anxious thoughts. It gets the worries out of your head and onto some paper. This also frees your mind so you can focus on the task at hand rather than focusing on what you have to worry about when the task is over. If you are worried about finishing your paper tonight, write down exactly what you’re anxious about!
For instance, “I am worried I won’t finish this paper on time and then it will be late and I will receive a late penalty.” Writing this out helps you to see what exactly you are worried will occur, and therefore acknowledge what you need to do to avoid this consequence.
Once you have your list of worries, put it in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind! You can rest assured knowing the list is there for you to come back to when you having powered through your to-do’s. You don’t need to worry about forgetting anything because it’s all written down, waiting for your return!
Plan Ahead of Time
I don’t know about you, but I love all things having to do with planning and organization. I love getting new planners each year (or twice/three times a year) and filling it with all of my to-do’s! Between school, work, blogging, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, I have a lot of things to coordinate!
My all-time favorite planner has to be this one by Bloom Daily Planners. I got mine on Amazon for less than $10! It has a beautiful design in a portable size, which really works well for me considering I also have to lug around client files and my computer between work and school. In the beginning pages, they have a lot of motivational, goal-setting templates to really help you get on track for the coming year! If you haven’t looked into this brand before, I would highly recommend doing so now. It is the best quality for the lowest price that I’ve found!
They were also kind enough to #gift me two other planners that are so adorable! Their 2020-2021 planners are fantastic for the upcoming school year and can really help you get organized just in case we’re still social distancing and have to work from home! If structured planners aren’t your thing, they also have these really cool undated, dot journaling planners that you can customize to be completely your own. Bloom really has something for everyone!
Utilize Breathing Techniques
Anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways, but it is all too common that our breathing gets disrupted when we are feeling anxious. When you are really tense, do you find yourself breathing abnormally? Whether it be that you breathe too fast, or find yourself holding your breath, utilize some breathing techniques to relax the mind + body and get back to normal rhythm.
One of my personal favorite breathing techniques for productivity is Nadi Shodhana breathing. This is a yogic breathing technique that is thought to synchronize the two hemispheres of the brain, promoting balance and engagement. This technique quiets the mind and purifies subtle energy channels. It should leave you feeling refreshed and ready to work!
Nadi Shodhana Breathing: Sit upright, and hold your right hand up to your face. Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through your left nostril, pausing after you have completed the inhale. During the pause, close your left nostril with your ring finger and release the right nostril. Exhale through the right nostril, pausing gently at the bottom. Repeat this method 5 times.
Meditate + Stretch It Out
Listen to a quick guided mediation to get you in the zone. Insight timer (not aff) has great 5 minute meditations for focus! Letting someone else guide your thoughts into a more productive, creative channel will allow you to snap into your work quickly and effectively. 5 minutes is really all you need!
Release any tension that may be building inside. We often hold tension in our shoulders, back, arms and legs. Think about the last time you were feeling anxious about some work you needed to do. Where do you hold that tension?
Follow a quick yoga flow to loosen up any tight muscles and get the energy flowing. Moving your body unlocks your creative energy and allows it to flow throughout your body, which will only help you come up with new, innovative ways to work!
Yoga Outlet has some really amazing meditation and yoga clothing and accessories. I got my singing bowl and yoga mat from Yoga Outlet. I’m always on a budget and they have fit my need every time! Yoga and meditation has become quite commercialized and a lot of brands try to profit off of this, but Yoga Outlet is still so reasonable. They’re having a really great sale right now that you should check out if you’re in need of some new ~zen~ things!
Praise Your Successes
As you move through your work, praise yourself! Give yourself a pat on the back for even the smallest victories. It can be easy for us to be caught up in all that needs to be done and neglect all that has been completed thus far.
As you move down your to-do list, give yourself praise as you check things off! Tell yourself you’re doing a great job, you’re working hard and making moves! This will feel cheesy and weird the first few times you do it, but you have to be your own cheerleader! If you can cheer for other people, why can’t you cheer for yourself?
If you get used to praising yourself for the small successes, it’ll make it that much easier to praise your bigger accomplishments. All too often I come across clients who feel uncomfortable praising themselves for fear of coming off as cocky or overconfident. This breaks my heart because we should be celebrating all that we do! Being a functioning human is hard (especially now). Celebrate yourself!
Clear Your Space
Wherever you plan on working needs to be a clean, clear space. We want your work space to reflect your desired mental space. If you want to think clearly with minimal distractions, your desk or table needs to look the same!
Clear off the old papers, the sticky notes, the bowls/plates/cups/bottles you were too lazy to move before. Treat your work space well and it will treat you well in return. Only keep the essentials in your space. Pens, paper, notepads, etcetera can be stored in a cute desk organizer. Keep the office stuff to the periphery of your space so you have an area to place your laptop or notepad. Maybe keep a classic diffuser on the edge of your desk with some refreshing essential oil blends designed for focus. But remember, minimal distraction is key!
Here’s where you can get creative. Keep something near your work space that promotes positivity and motivation. For instance, a vision board or an affirmation jar. When your motivation is running low take a couple of moments to engage with your positivity channel to get yourself back on track!
One of my favorite things on my desk is my Inspirational Desk Calendar from Bloom Daily Planners! It has a positive, affirming quote with really adorable designs on each page. It goes by Month/Day so you can use it year after year! Right now it’s my favorite thing to look at on my desk when I’m feeling a mental slump.
You Can Do It
Anxiety has a nasty habit of being all-consuming and standing in the way of our goals. Once we learn how to quiet these anxious thoughts and be more productive with our energy, we become unstoppable! Hopefully these tips helped and you will be able to be less anxious and more productive the next time you sit down to work! Let me know in the comments below your favorite way to stay productive!