Having a hard time being productive at work? Checking your phone every 3 minutes? This year has brought more collective challenges than any year in recent memory. Challenges require a little extra work, but they’re not insurmountable if you stay calm and focused.
Soothe Your Limbic System
Uncertainty coupled with newsfeeds designed to provoke fear is the perfect recipe for a limbic highjack, where your lower brain goes into flight/fight/freeze and your adrenal glands release loads of stress hormones into your system so that you can run like hell. This is great when you see a rattlesnake in the grass. This is not great when you’re glued to your desk trying to finish a brief.
To return to productivity, soothe your limbic system like you would soothe a scared child.
You can do that intentionally by grounding yourself where you are. Feel the weight of your body in the chair. Feel the weight of your feet on the floor. Feel the weight of your hands on your lap. Notice how you’re breathing and how you’re safe in this moment. When you focus on this moment in time and establish for yourself the idea that you’re safe, the limbic system will chill out and the part of your brain responsible for executive function (i.e. getting work done) will come back online.
Focus on What’s Working
Our brains evolved to have a bias for the negative, which means that our brains are constantly scanning for what could go wrong. There is uncertainty over something that people care about deeply right now, so it’s likely that your brain is on high alert.
The problem with this negativity bias is that it blinds us from what’s actually working. And there is a LOT that’s working right now, despite the challenges.
There are thousands of dedicated people who are working to ensure that every vote is counted. Millions of people go to work each day to make a contribution to something larger than themselves and to solve important problems. We have an incredible amount of resources, information, and knowledge at our fingertips. The sun continues to rise and set.
What’s working in your life right now? If you’re reading this, something is working right. Start with the beat of your own heart.
This isn’t to say that if something’s not working, you shouldn’t fix it. But the quickest way to fix something is NOT to get overwhelmed by what’s not working. That usually causes people to give up before they even begin. The quickest way to get what you want is to look for what IS working, build momentum, and create more of that.
Ask Yourself Productive Questions
Once you’ve calmed down and focused on what’s working, you’re much better positioned to be productive. To increase your productivity even more, directing your brain to where you want it to go by asking productive questions. Here are some examples:
- What’s the best way I can contribute right now?
- What the most important thing that I can do right now?
- How can I break this task down into manageable pieces?
- How can I get this done AND stay informed of the news? (The answer my brain gives me to this question is: “Set a 5-minute timer at the top of the hour to check the news – and then get back to work.” You might try it for yourself.)
Productive questions lead you straight into productive action and put you back in charge of your mind – instead of letting your newsfeed be in charge of you.
Control YOUR Results
Very few of us individually has much control over the outcome of the current election. But ALL of us have 100% control of OUR OWN results right now.
We can’t control what other people do, but we can control how we respond, what we do or don’t do, and what results we create for ourselves.
We control where to direct our focus: it might be work projects, advocacy, or creating a peaceful home for our families.
You get to decide what result you want to create in this circumstance, regardless of the outcome of the election.
And when you focus on THAT, your creative mind will go to work to find solutions, take action, and create what you want.
If you need help with this, let’s talk. I help Lawyer Moms and other busy professionals to create exactly what they want at work and at home.