Be Mindful

Be Mindful

Mindfulness.

It’s a term that has started to become more and more popular. But what is it?

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, mindfulness is:

“The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”

Who has time for that?!

As our days are packed, back-to-back, and often feeling like we are running behind schedule, it can feel like if we didn’t automatically breathe – we’d forget to do it!

And yet, staying present and not letting the stress and busyness of life carry us away can be really beneficial.

Need some easy places to start?

  • The next time you find yourself getting frustrated in a meeting (or at home), take some deep breaths … in through your nose, into your belly, and with a long exhale – out through your mouth
  • Or, the next meal you eat, pause to smell your food. Think about the flavors you are tasting. What do they remind you of?
  • Pause between your actions. So, the next time you are running to your meeting – stop to notice your surroundings before you walk in. Or, the next time your phone rings – listen to the sounds and breath before you answer

Sound a little different? Totally!

Try it out this week and see if it makes a difference in your temperament or the stress you may be feeling.

And let us know what works or doesn’t work for you!

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Setting Priorities when Things are Crazy

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We’ve all had those moments… you know, those moments when you are happily sitting at your desk knocking things out and then your phone rings and you hear:

“Heyyyy, so we’ve got a new project that we’ve got to get done by tomorrow” YIKES!

Instantly it’s all hands on deck and your to-do list is totally thrown out the window.

BUT – there are still things on that list that you need to get done! You can feel your heart rate start to heighten and your palms get sweaty – now what?!

How do you deal with the fires?

Step 1: Calm it down!

You know you’re not at your best when you are stressed. Nothing productive gets done well when you are in that space.

Do what you need to do to get back to a place of thinking in your logical brain verses thinking from your stress. How do you actually DO that?

  • Take a couple of long (6-8 second) deep breaths
  • Get out of the office for a minute, go walk across the street to grab a cup of tea or coffee
  • Plan for a quick run during your lunch break

Step 2: Take a step back

Make a list of all of the items that HAVE to get done today or tomorrow. Look to see if there is anything that you can push out another day or two, or delegate to someone on your team (need tips on how to delegate effectively? Check out here, here, and here).

Communicate with those around you of what came up: tell you boss that you’ve been handed this last-minute task and you’re prioritizing it, let your team know that you’ve been handed a huge project and that you’ll probably be a little more on edge today. Being transparent with those around you will serve you all well!

Step 3: Set Realistic Expectations

You know you can’t do everything, so start thinking through your to-do’s in buckets.

Bucket 1 – Quick knock-outs: Is there an item or two that you can complete in the next 20 or 30 minutes? Do those quickly – spend no longer than 30 minutes on each. Feeling better as things start to be checked off your to-do list? Great. Move to bucket 2.

Bucket 2 – the biggies: Buckle down and knock out the most important/time sensitive item. Is someone waiting for a piece from you to be able to work on theirs? Tackle that now.

Bucket 3 – Finish it up! Circle back to those important items that take a little longer.

Try these out and let us know your best practices in dealing with fires!

Making Time for You

Making Time for You

Last week we talked about setting priorities at work but what about your personal priorities?

The busyness of life has a way of creeping in – it’s not just that there’s so much to do at work, but there’s just so much to do in GENERAL!

Just like taking the time to set priorities at work is hugely important to your job, setting priorities for you, personally, is hugely important to the quality of life that you experience.

We all have “that thing” that we would “love to change” if we could.

Here are a couple starters we’d love to:

  • Eat healthier
  • Read a new book or two
  • Work out more often
  • Be less stressed out
  • Travel to Europe
  • Become more meditative

It is great to have that “thing” you’d love to do!

So, now what? Just like we had some tips for setting priorities for your work, we’ve got some for your personal priorities as well!

Tip 1: Start small

It is so great that you want to work out more but don’t feel like you’ve got to run your first 10k in 6 weeks!

Take it slow. Set a realistic goal. Maybe you can commit to finding a 5-minute workout routine on Pinterest to do twice a week.

Set your goal to be something you know you can do so that you feel empowered to keep going and not discouraged!

 Tip 2: Find a friend!

I know, this title is slightly reminiscent to the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire’s” phone a friend, but in all seriousness, find someone who you can do this with!

Maybe it is someone who has wanted to read more and you can read the same book together or someone who you share meals with often and you both can go on a healthier- kick!

Just don’t go at this change alone!

Tip 3: Create a reward for yourself

This is really exiting that you are taking the time to do something for you!

What can you do as a “great job!” once you accomplish it?

Maybe you’ll buy a fun bottle of wine to celebrate 30 days of healthier eating or have a new meal planned after you’ve taken 15 minutes of meditation for 10 days.

Choose something to honor all the hard work you’ve done – you deserve it!

Smile

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How about this week?!

A bit overwhelmed? Concerned over the seemingly-etched furrow lines dotting your brow?

Do us a favor and SMILE.

Yup – take a quick second and smile at yourself in the mirror / computer monitor / selfie view of your phone.

Big tooth grin – complete!

Feeling Better? Us too. Studies have shown that taking a few moments to smile (or chuckle – which some of us also did while looking at ourselves in our selfie-cam) will decrease your stress levels. Less stress (and even just a TEENSY bit of less stress) means, better interactions, happier direct reports, and lots of health benefits.

Don’t believe us? Check it out here, or here, or here!

Next time you’re feeling stressed – force a smile. It’ll help!

Keeping Your Cool

relax-on-the-beachI know… the picture almost makes you cringe.

Maybe it’s because you are experiencing the cold of winter and you can’t even remember what 50 degrees feels like.

But more likely it’s because of all the impeding deadlines you just realized you need to complete in the next 26 days. I know… I feel the pressure too.

Maybe it is a big project? Or two or three…? Or all those sales goals you are expected to make during the holidays? Or figuring out how to pitch to the last big client you are hoping to land before the end of the year?

How do you keep your cool and relax during it all?

These three suggestions given by Forbes are a great place to start. Particularly insightful, especially for this time of year, is the point that a lot of times stress is not one big event but rather lots of little events that built up over time.

During the month of December when there are holidays, family gatherings, work celebrations, and days off- all of the little things that need to get done can add up rather quickly. Recognizing each pressure and creating lists and goals are a great way to prioritize your daily needs (both personal and professional).

Hang in there!

Manage it – and your stress

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Stress has become an inevitable part of being a Middle Manager. How do you manage both your workload AND your stress?

In the Forbes article, 12 Ways to Eliminate Stress in the Workplace, the PhD Business Psychologist and author of  Success Under Stress Sharon Melnick shares a few methods to work through, and succeed through, stress. By owning the aspects of the situation you can control (and not focusing on the 50% you can’t), trying some yoga-ish breathing techniques, and looking at (and more purposely dealing with) the daily interruptions of urgent emails or texts, you can stay steadily focused and less stressed throughout the day.

Have you tried some of these, or similar techniques, to manage your workplace stress? Which work for you?