By Weston Lyon
I know this may sound counter-productive, but getting away from your work can speed productivity and effectiveness. When we try to get more done, we often stress-out. Instead, try unplugging from the world and relaxing.
I know life is always go-go-go! But learning to relax and let go, and allowing yourself to unplug will help you get more done in less time. Here are some strategies to help you on your way.
Take Regular Vacations: Everyone loves to go on a vacation. Unfortunately, though, most people view going on vacation as a once a year adventure. This does not have to be the case. I have found that planning one big vacation a year, and taking mini-vacations throughout the year is a great way to keep yourself relaxed and looking forward to each break.
If you are not sure how to go about doing this, here are a few tips.
– Choose 4 places you want to go. They do not have to be far away. They just need to be places you want to go. For instance, you can go to a hotel across town; you can go to the closest amusement park; or you can go to the closet ski resort (or beach if you prefer).
– Open your calendar and block out 4 weekends over the next 12 months. It is important to block the time for these mini-trips right away. That way you know when you are going. Schedule the time to go every 3 months. This will keep you moving forward without burnout.
– Book your flights and/or any other arrangements. Yes, book your arrangements NOW! Make them non-refundable, so you do not back out last minute.
Quiet Reflection: Reflection is wonderful. It gives you specific time of silence to think about life, work, goals, or to simply clear your mind and relieve stress.
– Sit down in a quiet place and turn off ALL phones, cell phones, or anything else that goes buzz, beep, or sings songs.
– Set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Your cell phone works great…just put it on silent so you will not be disturbed.
– Take 5 deep breathes from your diaphragm. This will help you clear your mind.
– As you breathe deeply, do not think of anything specific. If you catch yourself stuck on a thought and focusing on it, relax and let it go. This takes practice, but it is a great way to re-center your mind and get focused on productivity.
Massage: Receiving a muscle melting, mind-numbing massage lets the world pass you by…at least for an hour. Massage has a plethora of benefits. Two of the most exciting benefits are, one, stress dissolves and you can finally relax; and, two, your muscles “let go” and tension melts away.
Getting a massage is not hard to enjoy. However, there are ways to optimize your experience. Practice breathing deeply. This will allow your body and muscles relax. Imagine your muscles melting into the table. Do not overthink it. Simply relax and go with it. This may be hard at first, but the more massages you get, the easier it will become.
Exercise: Exercise produces endorphins in your body, which make you feel great. Exercise also challenges you physically and allows you to forget about your worries, troubles, and problems.
There are many exercise styles, so you should choose the one that is best for you. However, no matter what kind of exercise you are doing, there are three things that will enhance your experience.
– Breathe – Keep your breath as steady as you can throughout the exercise. The more breathing you do, the more beneficial the exercise is…and as a bonus, the more fat you burn!
– Focus – Keep focused on the muscles you are working. The more focus and intent you are able to put on our muscles, the harder they work…and the less you think.
– Relax – Keep your body and mind in a relaxed state. You are going to be working hard, but keep relaxed and without tension or stress.
Walking: Yes, walking is a form of exercise, but, in this case, I am talking about “slow walking.” It can also be combined with quiet reflection to loosen up your mind, while allowing your blood to flow.
After a slow walk, you will feel calm, yet energized. Carefree, yet aware. Slow walking is different from regular walking because you are not doing it for the exercise. The purpose is to reflect while walking. Here’s a simple technique to use:
– Start by walking at your normal pace. Preferably outside in nature, but a treadmill or indoor track will do if need be.
– Slow down your walk as if you are contemplating every step. Listen to the birds chirp and the grass grow. Clear your mind and let your thoughts wander. Walk for as long as you like. Even just 10 minutes will help.
So, what makes all of this so special? How will this allow you to get more done? You are learning to relax. In today’s fast-paced, no-stop world, you need to relax. You are also teaching your mind to take time to reflect on your life and your goals. The more focused you are on your goals and what you want to achieve, the more intentional you can be. When we live intentionally, we maximize our time thereby becoming more productive in a shorter period of time.