Tips to help you regain focus and increase productivity
We all of us seem to have so much on all our plates these days, every one of us seems to be in a massive, over-complicated juggling routine at Cirque de Soleil, and that’s just getting through everyday life.
There is perhaps no greater time of stress and overwhelm, and no greater need for focus than at exam times. Exams are possibly one of the most high-pressure times in your life, and the knowledge that your future may well be changed by your performance in just a couple of hours is serious pressure, and time to really get focused.
Changes to our environment or schedules can cause us to experience stress and anxiety, but once we learn some simple techniques to deal with really high-stress times and some tools to increase focus during these times, we’ve learnt an invaluable life skill to take us into the future.
The tools and techniques that I’ll describe will help you to retain focus, remain energized and productive and keep calm. They are as taught by senior yoga teacher for Movement for Modern Life, Leila Sadeghee, and are a combination of movement practices, breath-work and visualisation exercises all targeted specifically to relieve anxiety and increase focus.
These exercises are designed to be done throughout the day when you’re at your desk and need to take a constructive break. I really recommend taking one break every hour. It seems a lot but really does help to increase productivity. Scroll to the bottom of the page to watch the full lesson from Leila.
Step 1 - Pour away the negativity
The first thing you can do, when you’re feeling a little dull or simply overwhelmed, and want to bring in extra clarity and focus is to do an ‘object dump’ meditation. This visualization can be helpful when dealing with the overwhelm and can help to increase your focus on the present and on the positive.
All you need to do for this exercise is get an object, say, a cup, and simply imagine that you’re pouring, as if you’re pouring water, all the negative feelings, the things that are getting in the way of you fulfilling your task.
Stream everything that’s not helping you get your focus, all stresses, anxieties and sense of difficulty, all thoughts that aren’t helping, all go into the mug. Then take deep and full breaths and notice how separate you are to this mug containing all negative thoughts and anxieties. There is physical space between you and your problems.
Step 2 - Jump for joy
The next thing to do in your constructive break is to simply get energized. Jump for joy! Just do three rounds of ten little jumps and feel the energy, the blood going to your brain and all your cells and the zoom of vitality. This is a wonderful way to bring oxygenated blood to the brain to make you brainier and more focused.
Step 3 - Get your flow back
Then make tight fists and pat down your whole body to stimulate your immune system and bring blood flow to your whole body. This life-force in the body can really help your focus and to reinvigorate you when you’ve been studying or focusing at a desk for a while.
Step 4 - Give yourself a pat on the back
To help to combat neck and shoulder tension, which can really build up when we’re faced with times of stress, you can stand up and swing your arms around your body, lightly patting yourself on the shoulders to relieve tension which often especially builds up in the neck and shoulders. A great re-vitalizer, as well as being excellent for reducing shoulder tension.
Step 5 - Defog your mind
Now you are clearer, you are energised, you need to hone your laser-like focus. The very best thing for this is to do breath-work. The best breath to do when you need extra focus is to take a ‘skull-cleansing’ breath.
It clears out all the negativity and dullness in your brain and brings extra focus. To do this, sit up straight and simply focus on sharp exhales, pulling in the diaphragm, and let the inhales happen naturally.
Step 6 - Let the light in
The last thing we can do is to use a visualisation of a light in the centre of your skull. Close your eyes and imagine that the light glows brightly. As you exhale let the brightness shine and as you inhale, the light grows brighter. Inhale extra brightness, sending rays of light to your focused, bright light in your mind.
You are now ready to get back to your desk with a calmer, more confident outlook and a better-focused mind.
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