Productive Learning (Pt 2 of 4): Mindful productivity & your environment

Mindful productivity?

Mindful productivity?


This blog is designed to help you take control of your life. Are you ready?

This series is to help you or your children be productive learners. Having looked at what causes mental clutter in Part 1, there are some easy, mindful, fixes in this installment to give yourself a head start in keeping those causes at bay.

Mindful Productivity

I promote “mindful productivity”, but what does this mean? “Mindfulness” is about noticing and being aware, without judgment, what’s happening right now; not thinking about the past or worrying about the future. “Mindful productivity” is about being aware of how you process information and how you work, and noticing whether it still serves you well.

Take workaholics, for example. Workaholics are simply imbalanced in their activity. The more we lean towards working, the more we need to incorporate activity that leads us away from work to return to a balanced state (see Mental Deep Breathing below).

Creating a productive environment

There are lots of factors that go into creating a productive environment. These three are key:

Get good sleep

I cannot tell you how crucial sleep is to being productive and feeling on top of things. Why is sleep so important?

  • Sleep is the critical period that cements what you learn during the day, while removing useless info.

  • Sleep is when the body rids itself of toxins that can get in the way of efficient brain function.

  • Sleep leads to resilience. Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan, in an HBR article (2018) said it so brilliantly: “Resilience is about how you recharge, not how you endure.” And “A resilient child is a well-rested one.”

The number one piece of advice for better sleep that all the experts agree on is: keep technology out of the bedroom. The National Sleep Foundation and Mayo Clinic both stress that the use of blue-light-emitting LED devices is detrimental to sleep. A good resource is Arianna Huffington’s book “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time”.

For instant and free advice, email me for my tip sheet on creating a more sleep-friendly environment and lifestyle – I spent a lot of time researching this a few years back an I’d love to share this curated info. Or discuss the issue with your doctor. Or seek out a sleep specialist. If nothing else, do some online research for a few things you can put into place straight away.

Build “mental deep breathing” into your day

Resting is just as important as sleep. Achor and Gielan also note that “When the body’s out of alignment from overworking, we waste a vast amount of mental and physical resources trying to…move forward.”

In his research, Nathaniel Kleitman established that our brains work in 90-minute rest-activity cycles. So keep your brain well-oiled by taking a break every 90 minutes. You can do simple things like:

•       Going for a walk, even just around the block

•       Putting on some of your favorite music and dancing for 10 minutes

•       Washing the dishes or doing some housework

•       Playing with your kids, dog, cat

•       Having a cup of tea and looking out the window

Reduce Distractions

Social media companies learned a long time ago that the brain loves being stimulated by new information like social media updates, because dopamine is released every time we check in. the problem is that, not only are you creating an addiction to get the dopamine reward, you’re tiring yourself out in the process because of the amount of energy used: when your brain’s at rest it consumes about 11 calories/hour; focused reading uses about 42 calories/hr; processing new information (emails, fb/twitter updates), a whopping 65 calories/hr.

This should show you that it’s important to get the upper hand on distractions instead of letting them control you. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Use apps like Off-time or Unplugged to create tech-free zones

  • Let others know you’re studying, and put up a Do Not Disturb sign

  • Train yourself to reduce how much you are open to distractions. Larry Rosen uses this method: allow yourself to briefly check your phone and email, then set an alarm for 15 minutes. Now close your email and silence your phone. When the alarm goes off, you can do a 1-minute tech check-in. Repeat this process. Steadily increase your off-grid time to an hour, 90 minutes, or several hours. (“Take A Break”, HBR, 2018)

I can help you identify the best and worst triggers if you have difficulty working out what helps and what hinders your productivity. Contact me to arrange a free consult. Write to me at Ellia@MindfulOrganizing.NET to book a call or schedule a time online.

Part 3: Setting learning goals, determining your priorities, and creating your learning to-do list

You can get more posts like this in my bi-weekly newsletter: sign up here

How else can I help?

- Messy home, smothered by clutter?
- A never-ending to-do list?
- Scatterbrained and trouble focusing?

My clients want to be organized, but have difficulty clearing the clutter in their home or their head on their own. I help them achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves for a clutter-free home and mind.

If you, too, are ready to get organized and be more productive, I can help:
Virtual Coaching - 1 hour video call for organizing or productivity issues, anywhere
Onsite Coaching - 3 hour session for organizing and productivity issues, in the Seattle area
Packages - 6 or 12 discounted sessions, either Virtual or Onsite

Not sure which option is best for you? Contact me to arrange a free phone consultation: Ellia@MindfulOrganizing.NET or Click here to learn about my organizing and productivity coaching services.