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The Best Way to Improve Productivity

 

The Best Way to Improve Productivity

The Best Way to Improve Productivity

There are an endless amount of resources out there for how to improve productivity.  In my search I did not find a definitive answer to the best way to improve productivity.  I think there is an answer to this question though.  The best way to improve productivity….is your way.

Finding out ways to hack your own laziness, distraction or “busy” lifestyle is tricky.  But the most effective way to improve productivity will be the one that is most connected to you.  A place to start when identifying what kinds of practices to experiment with may be the endless lists online, such as this one on – boosting productivity in real life.   As you may notice, I even wrote one of these tips.  The tips and strategies are definitely good to start with.

Experimentation and practice is where the rubber hits the road.  The next step is exploring the strategies in a way that answers the question of – how does those strategy resonate with me?   Using strategies that are most connected to who you are will yield the best results.

There are certainly some exercises and strategies that are more about self-exploration than others.  Here is a short list of strategies that may help to improve productivity, but more importantly offer the opportunity to explore what’s holding you back, and who you are.

Personal Development and Productivity

Take a vacation 

This may seem counter intuitive since taking a vacation is not necessarily the most “productive” of activities. However, letting go of some of the demands and hustle for a few days can help you to re-identify what is truly important, as well as give you a boost of energy when you return.

Create a daily practice

When looking at habits and common traits of successful people, one thing is usually consistent, they have some sort of regular practice. Having a daily practice helps to create mindfulness, discipline and routine – all things that impact productivity.

Practice discipline, everyday

Similar to the daily practice, focusing on ways to practice discipline can help to build routine and productivity in many areas in life. Discipline can be practiced in a number of ways through fitness, healthy eating, work duties, behavior in relationships, self-reflection and many other aspects in life.  The practice of the discipline itself may be just as important as the goal related to it.

Get up and move

You may have heard the recent commentary about sitting being the new smoking. There is substantial research to back up the idea of sedentary lifestyle greatly impacting health, wellbeing and productivity.   Exploring ways that help you to enjoy regular daily movement will make these little breaks easier to commit to and more likely to stick.  Again, this is about personal exploration of what works for you.

Explore your passions and purpose

Understanding what you are passionate about will help in building strategy around all of the previously mentioned tips. If you aren’t sure, that’s ok, start experimenting.  Start with these two questions –

  • What would I love to do every day if I had an unlimited amount of money?
  • If I had unlimited resources and I could only do one thing to help the world, what would it be?

How have you enhanced your own productivity? 

Thanks,

Michael

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Growing Self-Discipline

Growing Self-Discipline

Growing Self-Discipline

Discipline has been on my mind lots in the last few weeks, so I thought I would do some exploring.  I am currently experimenting with a month long restricted diet (Whole30), definitely an act of discipline.  However, not in a bad way.  Most of the time when I explore ways of eating, exercise routines or other practices I find it interesting and at least somewhat eye opening in some way.  Usually I find that there are discoveries to be found when pursuing an act of growing self-discipline.

I found that it my life, practicing martial arts has been a continually evolving way to build self-discipline.  Certainly there are many ways to build self-discipline, but the question may be – why?  There are many findings on the impact of self-discipline across many aspects of the human experience.   The advantages of having good discipline start when are young.

In a longitudinal study by The Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania found that self-discipline accounted for twice as much variance as IQ in final grades of eight grade students.  These habits and their results may have significant impact on children’s ability to be successful later in life.

A study in The Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology showed that implementing a school based martial arts program had a positive impact on children’s cognitive self-regulation, an aspect of self-discipline.

According to Alphie Kohn it may be more valuable for children to be able to build the capacity to choose when to exercise self-discipline as well as what kind of self-discipline, and that this ability to choose may be more valuable than the self-discipline itself.

However the impact of discipline is not just found in kids.  In a study by The Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis, MO it was found that enhancing self-discipline and self-concept may improve subjective memory in older adults.

According to a study in The Journal of Depression and Anxiety, low self-discipline has been associated with anxiety and depressive disorders.


5 Tips for Growing Self-Discipline

  • Take your time – Building any new habit takes time. Taking small steps slowly over time will great the greatest recipe for success.  Remember that creating significant change is a process.
  • SMART goals – Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely will be the easiest to keep track of and the most likely to be achieved, leading to greater confidence and success overall.
  • Find your practice – Building self-discipline, will be most effective if the practice is something that you really enjoy doing. Finding a practice within the category that you are trying to create discipline around will help to build momentum and success overall.  You may find that creating discipline that is at least somewhat connected to your purpose or passion will be easiest.
  • Record your process – Explore the ups and downs of what it is like to create a new discipline in your life. This will be helpful in examining what works, what doesn’t and accomplishments along the way.
  • Practice creating routine – Practicing some kind of routine, even if it is outside the context of your goal will help in building the mindset of being more self-disciplined.  There are always opportunities to create new routines every day, take advantage of this.

How have you created self-discipline in your life?

Best,

Michael

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Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

 

Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

In my experience in working with individuals dealing with depression and anxiety or both, there has been a consistency I have seen.   I hesitate to use the term “always” but certainly often, taking a mind-body approach to depression and anxiety seems to yield positive results, in my experience.   In my own life I have found this to be true also.  I have always felt better when exploring challenges from multiple lenses.  This is not necessarily surprising that long lasting change would be achieved through tackling multiple components of the human experience.

I’m certainly not alone in this belief either.  According to an article in The Journal of Palliative Medicine, it was found that a multi-modal treatment approach including mindfulness meditation, yoga movement and breathing exercise helped to reduce anxiety and depression in Japanese cancer patients.   In addition, in The Canadian Journal of Psychotherapy there was a study showing the efficacy of using Yoga as a complimentary treatment to psychotherapy in treating depression and anxiety.  These are just a couple of examples of how a mind-body approach can be an effective treatment philosophy.

4 Tips for a Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

Mind your body We now have extensive research to show how lifestyle has such a great impact on our body and mind.  When considering how to care for your body and mind, the basic tenants remain – eat whole foods, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.  If someone is experiencing anxiety and depression these lifestyle factors may be harder to work towards. However, when you follow these principles often times there is symptom reduction.  For more information on nutrition, wellness and some great insight into mindset I recommend – The Model Health Show.

 

Talk to someone – If someone is having a particularly hard time it may be valuable to call a therapist or doctor for consult. If you already have a therapist, there may be value in seeing them more regularly during more challenging times.

 

Have compassion – Be patient and have compassion with yourself. During times of depression and anxiety this may be difficult. Remember that there are resources available to you.  Remaining present, compassionate and patient when working towards reducing symptoms is an important strategy.   One way to exercise compassion is doing an exercise in gratitude.

 

Self-Care – Engaging in some sort of regular practice is very important.  This practice can be different for everyone.  However, usually the focus of the practice is related to self-development.  Self-care could be related to physical fitness, meditation, time with loved ones, reflection, intention or any combination of activities that help to de-stress or remain present.

What mind-body practices have you found to be effective in your life?

Be well!

Michael

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The Power of Blogging

The Power of Blogging

The Power of Blogging

I was recently asked to speak about the power of blogging to a group of fellow colleagues who also have private practices.   Upon reflection of my recent history with blogging, I have definitely found it to be very beneficial, in a number of ways.

First of let me say that I am a relatively new blogger.  However, I have done my research.  For instance, I recently read Pat Flynn’s article on how to not be a newbie blogger, and determined that I had been following most of these best practices.   I definitely recommended reading content by people like Pat Flynn to understand how to build a blog.   I have found that there are many strategies, suggestions and best practices when it comes to blogging.  I have also discovered that the power of blogging for me has been somewhat related to my business and some just related to my own personal development.

Consider these aspects of blogging that may be powerful for you and your business –

Blogging to keep up with your specialty and serve your clients

Blogging is a great way to hone your own specialty as a clinician or coach…..or in any industry really.  Blogging can apply to any field because it can be a way to research, keep up on trends and practice explaining concepts.  Blogging can be an additional way to serve through your own self-development as a researcher, writer and communicator.   Blogging helps to push limits of understanding within any concept and continue to dissect and explore ways of communicating particular practices or philosophies.

Hone your writing skills and ability to communicate through blogging

Blogging can help to improve your own ability to communicate.   According to an article in The Journal of CyberPsychology and Behavior, a study showed that blogging has a positive impact on well-being, particularly in perceived social support.   In an article in The International Journal of Information and Educational Technology, it was found that blogging is a potential tool for the development of linguistic skills.

Connecting on social media through blog posts

Connecting on social media can be a little tricky if you don’t have a place to start.  Blogging regularly can be a wonderful conversation starter as well as a way to engage with your friends/followers/audience etc.  Posting regularly on social media about topics you are writing about and engaging in conversations about these topics offers up a way to build an audience and ultimately your own brand.

Blogging for SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complicated thing.  One of many strategies for this is blogging.  Having lots of content on your website around a particular theme can help you to rank higher in google searches and help you reach more people in the long run.  Here are some very basic SEO tips –

  • Adding subheadings
  • Research around specific keywords or phrases and including them in your post
  • Adding pictures, video if an option ( I recommend using Canva for picture alteration)
  • Tagging words and phrases

For a more comprehensive list of tips and SEO strategies I again recommend following Pat Flynn.  Here is a great webinar to get you started. Pat is great!

Guest blogging and feature opportunities

Writing does not have to be limited to your own website.  There are many opportunities to guest blog or be featured on someone else’s website.  Connecting with others within your niche or related niches or fields may lead to blogging exchange and an opportunity to write more and expand your audience.  For instance, I recently met with a health coach and after some discussion we determined that her audience would benefit from an article on How Therapy is Keeping you Stuck.  Even though this person wasn’t in the same field directly, there was still an opportunity to collaborate.

Alternatively, there may be opportunity to get featured on someone’s website.  This may take a bit more collaboration, but certainly possible. For instance, I have been following a consultant for the last eight months or so and implemented some of the strategies that he has recommended which have been really helpful! If you have a private counseling, coaching or consulting practice he is definitely worth checking out and can be found at Practice of the Practice.  At a conference recently he offered to do a write up featuring my practice and how I’ve used some of his suggestions.  Of course this benefits both of us!  He gets to show how his audience is being impacted and I get to have more exposure to a larger audience.  However, I’m not sure I would have been as comfortable submitting the writing sample if I hadn’t been practicing regularly through blogging.

Here is a list of sites that you can pursue guest blogging opportunities through  –

Connecting with the media

Blogging takes regular practice and if it is a successful blog there are posts regularly.   One way to practice, outside of writing for the blog, is to get featured in the media.  This has been an easier thing to do then I expected.   A resource called Help a Reporter Out has been a great tool for getting featured in the media, in addition to being an avenue to practice the craft of writing.   Basically this avenue allows you answer questions from reporters on topics that you have a specialty in.  Reporters post questions and if you feel you can contribute, you write about what they are requesting.  When submissions are not “picked up” to be featured in the media, these submissions can be repurposed into a blog post.

Blogging for your own personal development

Writing and blogging can be a great way to exercise your own development as well.  Here are some areas I have noticed that have been impacted through regular blogging –

  • Builds discipline
  • Improves productivity
  • Pushes me to be more scheduled
  • Helps me to explore areas that I am interested in and blog about them
  • Allows an avenue for some self-reflection through including my own insights and stories through blog posts

 How has blogging been helpful to you?

Best,

Michael

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5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

I was recently featured on Livestrong in an article about setting effective boundaries so that you do not become emotionally or even physically drained.  Sometimes not having clear boundaries can do this. Without good boundaries we can feel exhausted.  Since for most of us the majority of our time is spent at work, I wanted to elaborate on how to set effective boundaries in the workplace.

Having clear workplace boundaries not only impacts you, but all those you work with as well.  Having clear boundaries in the workplace helps to improve productivity, decrease stress, helps foster good relationships and improves motivation.   Although setting boundaries is complicated based on the nature of the work and relationship, a study that examined boundary setting in the workplace found that evaluating and setting boundaries did in fact impact relationships.  According to The University of California San Francisco, when boundaries are clear organizations work more efficiently and groups within work more productively.

 

5 strategies for effective boundaries in the workplace

 

  • Responsibility – Having a clear idea of roles and responsibility is crucial in a work environment. If this is unclear, then meeting with co-workers and supervisors may be important for clarification in order to understand who is responsible for what.

 

  • Self-Care Self-care may not seem as obvious when looking at boundary setting. However, this is more of a preventative measure.  It is easy to become unclear about where appropriate boundaries should be when we are run down, stressed out, irritable or overwhelmed.  Having good self-care practices will allow us to not only function at peak level but also remain clearer about where appropriate boundaries should be.

 

  • It’s not Personal – Remaining aware that work relationships may differ from personal relationships is an important perspective to hold. This doesn’t mean that there is not a certain level of familiarity or closeness with those you work with.   Some decisions in a work environment may be out your control.  In addition, there may be decisions that are made that don’t make sense due to components that you be unaware of or are not privileged to know.  Just like in all relationships – learning to not take things personally can be a game changing perspective to hold and a way to reduce stress and anxiety.

 

  • Clear and Friendly Communication – Setting clear boundaries does not mean needing to be dry, cold disconnected from your fellow co-worker. In fact, having a positive friendly attitude can generally impact the environment in a great way.   Remember that there can be a balance between clear boundary and a friendly, positive attitude.

 

  • Be the Leader – In an environment of unclear boundaries there is an opportunity. This opportunity is for someone to establish a leadership role and be a model for how to set clear boundaries of relationship and responsibility.  We always have the option of being in a position of either following the trend or stepping up as a leader, regardless of our position in any environment.

 

How else have you been able to set clear boundaries in the workplace?

Thanks,

Michael