Ah, the day after Christmas. Boxing Day, if you will. If you’re slaving away at the quiet office with leftover holiday Hersheys kisses by the printer, you’re not alone.
Chances are, your body is in the office and your mind is likely elsewhere. If you’re zoned out or still hyped up amidst the holiday hoopla, never fear.
We got inspired by this Harvard Business Review post on how to quiet your mind. If you truly start to think about when you’re most productive at work (looming deadlines aside), it’s likely when your mind is still and most creative.
1. Meditating. According to the piece and a recent study, meditation may make your brain bigger, faster and appear younger. As this relates to work, why not leverage that morning commute? Let’s say you’re a passenger in a car or hop on a bus. The piece recommends closing your eyes for 10 minutes.
Alternatively if you drive, allow for 10 minutes of peace time sitting in the car before heading into the office. Select one image like a waterfall, specific beach or tree and focus only on that image. As other thoughts bubble up, start to push them away.
2. Pulsing. The post also references another research study which points out top performers in their field work in cycles. Whether they’re musicians or athletes, they work in 90-minute cycles and then they take a break. Why not start to tackle a project and set the alarm on your mobile phone for 90 minutes?
This way, you’ll know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and there’s a break waiting for you. In the meantime, you can power through that project until you get pinged. As for the break itself, a few options include taking a walk, talking to a colleague, listening to music or getting a cup of tea or coffee. After five minutes, get back to work for another 90-minute interval.
3. Daydream walking. Get this — as per the piece, apparently people who daydream and simply let their minds wander score higher on creativity tests and simultaneously remain aware enough to recognize a brainstorm when it occurs. Yes, we should give ourselves permission to let our minds roam. Even though you may feel chained to your desk at work, resolve to take a break.
And it doesn’t even have to be every day — even if you walk away for 20 minutes two days a week during lunch, you can think about anything you want aside from work. You’ll tap into the creative side of your brain whether you’re thinking about your next vacation or the fun you had over the holidays. You can ramp it up to every day of the week but realistically start out with one or two.
If a colleague wants to join you as you head outside to walk, resist the temptation to have company (because let’s face it, you’ll likely start talking about work), and just say no.