These uncertain times have sent a lot of things into disarray. For many of us, it is as if we went to bed with one mental map of how the world works and woke up to a completely new one. Our work and our daily lives changed overnight.
With all the chaos, the critical question becomes, how do I stay engaged, motivated and on my best game with all the disruptions and distractions lurking in the background? There is still work to be done after all.
Here are three tips to ensure you don’t let the situation sabotage you and to keep your energy, productivity and innovation elevated so you can focus on what needs to get done.
#1 MANAGE YOUR ENERGY
The energy that you have is finite. Think of it like the wifi in your home. When all your devices are going, everything slows down. Your mental energy works in the same way, except instead of devices it’s worries, work, concerns, juggling work and family, all taking bandwidth. When the energy you have is spread too thin across too many different things, disruption and distraction have a chance to enter. To stay focused and engaged it’s essential to turn off some of the channels in your mind. Here are two ways I have found that help you manage your energy to keep it focused on things that matter.
Start Your Day Strong
Particularly in these times, but even in our regular lives, it can be tempting to turn on the news or log into everything that’s happening around us the minute we wake up. When we do that, we automatically put some of our energy bandwidth into those issues, causing anxiety and stress that sits in our brains. Instead, choose to start the day strong. Do one thing that makes you happy or feels positive, whether that's connecting with a friend, walking the dog, or having a great cup of coffee. Starting your day strong helps you avoid throwing your energy bandwidth all over the place.
Have Kitchen Table Conversations
Having a conversation around the “kitchen table” with a group of friends (virtually!) can help you get all your negative thoughts, fears and worries out of your head, and give you the energy bandwidth to focus on important things. Or write all those energy-draining thoughts out on a piece of paper and toss it in the trash. The key here is getting these thoughts out of your head so you can clear up your mental energy to focus on the essential things.
#2 GET INTO A STATE OF FLOW
A lot of us have heard about being in a state of flow, where you are totally focused on what you're doing and working at your maximum potential to create, innovate and strategize. In that state, disruption, and distraction, while still present, do not affect you. Yet, for many of us, getting into that state seems difficult.
Fortunately, it’s actually not difficult or magical, if you know how to activate it. If you have taken the Innovation Quotient Edge (IQE) assessment, your full report has some exercises that are specifically designed for your unique style of innovation, to trigger that state of flow in your brain.
Another exercise that can help all of us is ‘antennas up’, which I’ve described in my book, Innovation is Everybody's Business. Think about a brand or business that you absolutely love, and ask yourself: If they were to solve my problem, how would they do it? It is a very simple exercise. Thinking about things in your personal life that you love, puts you in a positive mood, opens up a sense of discovery, and gets the innovative mind going. Take 5 minutes to try this exercise before you begin your next task.
#3 GIVE YOUR BRAIN A BREAK
Did you know that it takes our brain five to seven minutes to transition from one task to the next? However, instead of giving our brain a break in between tasks, what we often do is go from task to task to task without a break. Our brain needs to have completion of one task to then fully commit to the next. Going from task to task to task leaves mental “residue” or open loops that are playing in the back of your mind, taking up critical bandwidth.
What you can do to successfully transition between tasks is take a movement or meditation (but not Netflix!) break of five to seven minutes. Movement not only feels good in your body, but it also gets the blood flowing which gets more oxygen to your brain. Physically speaking, movement helps you be more productive and focused, and it releases good chemicals in your brain that makes you feel more engaged. Meditation is also helpful as a break between tasks to give your brain that moment it needs to catch up and clear out. By providing your conscious and subconscious mind the time that it needs to actually process, decompress, and move on, you can reduce the effect of disruptions and distractions and increase energy and engagement.
It is inevitable that disruptions and distractions creep into our lives. At this time, it is especially important that we find ways to be focused, engaged and productive. Using these techniques - managing your energy, getting into a flow state, and giving your brain a break - can help you feel more engaged, focused and productive on a daily basis.
Which of these strategies are you going to implement to improve your bandwidth and focus on the tasks that matter?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tamara Ghandour is founder of LaunchStreet and was a featured speaker at our 2020 Conference & Expo in Cleveland. Tamara’s life is about disrupting the status quo to create game-changing results working with people and organizations to leverage innovation to outmaneuver the changing marketplace, outperform the competition, and go further, faster. She is the creator of the proprietary innovation assessment, IQE, the only tool of its kind to helps intrapreneurs, entrepreneurs, and teams discover their innovation advantage. When companies like Disney, Procter & Gamble, RICOH, Red Robin and the U.S. Army Innovation Labs want to up their innovation quotient, they call Tamara. She can be seen on NBC, Today Show, INC Magazine, radio shows across the country and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, as well as the host of the popular podcast, Inside LaunchStreet. She is a Crossfit Addict, Netflix binger, and knee-high sock lover. As a kid in computer camp, she won the “I’ll try anything once award” – a motto she still lives by.