that many individuals face is the ability to balance all the tasks of the day
such as their goals and priorities without getting stressed. Organizations are
also empowering their employees with techniques that can be used to improve
their productivity while reducing stress. Stressed employees are bad
investments for organizations, because they project a negative attitude, take
more sick days off, lack creativity, and reduce the morale of the other
If we are
facing this challenge of stress associated with productivity, we can ask ourselves
whether we are being productive or just plain busy. We often feel stressed
because there is so much to do, and so little time. We have put so much
emphasis on the importance of being busy, because we feel devalued if we seem
less busy than someone else. It has become a competition and sense of pride to
tell others how busy and stressed we are. We have conditioned ourselves to
believe that being busy and stressed is a measure of success and productivity.
For those of us who are honestly seeking for a way to reduce stress, we can
follow these three techniques.
1. Drop the Emotional Baggage – We have a tendency to carry
all our memories and scars with us wherever we go. These memories and scars
occupy space in our brains and do not allow us to focus on the task at hand.
When we are working on a specific project, our minds recall incidents,
interactions, and emotions from the past that distract us. To make it worse,
worries about the future also distract us in the present moment. For us to
perform our tasks efficiently, we must unclutter our brains from unnecessary
holding a glass of water, initially it is very light; but the longer we hold on
to it, the heavier it starts to feel. The same concept applies with the
emotions that we are carrying. The longer we hold it, the heavier it gets; and
eventually when we can no longer hold it, we breakdown.
we can replace the word “should” in are vocabulary with the word “must”. Often
saying that “I should do this or should do that” and then not doing those tasks
creates energy of regret. Instead, if we say that “I must do this or that”
creates and energy of empowerment, and results in the tasks being completed.
Once we transform
our speech and drop the emotional baggage that we have been carrying for years;
we will notice a rise in our energy level as well as better focus to complete
2. Relax and Restore – It is said that
through our five senses we receive approximately 2 million bits of information
per second. This is through our senses of vision, hearing, smell, taste, and
touch. The conscious mind is unable to process so much information that is
received so it filters it down to only approximately 134 bits per second. The conscious mind filters the information by
deleting, distorting, or generalizing the information that is received. The
purpose of the conscious mind is to retain only the sensory information that we
feel is important. For example, if we are walking on the street we do not
notice the smell of the flowers; remember the benches that we have passed or
whether there is a step or a ramp on the pavement. We also rarely listen to the
birds singing, or feeling the minor temperature changes in the air. Moreover, we also have misunderstandings with
other people, because the filter of the mind distorted the information that
they had presented. Due to this we also generalize the information since we
cannot remember the specifics.
how magnificent every moment would be if we could sense the environment around
us with a higher level of sensitivity. Fortunately, this is possible. We need
to raise our level of awareness and sensitivity of the sensory preceptors.
We can achieve
this by practicing on stilling the mind. When the mind is quiet, the sensory
preceptors become more receptive. For example, at the Brahma Kumaris World
Spiritual University, music is played for about two minutes every hour. This is
referred to as a “traffic stop”. During the two minutes, everyone must stop
what he or she is doing and become present in the moment. This reduces the
traffic of thoughts in the mind, raises the level of awareness, as well as
relaxes and restores the body.
this simple and profound technique into our daily routine the amount of stress
is reduced. Every hour or two, if we pause for a few minutes we will realize
that the mind and body have been recharged, and then we can continue working
with more clarity.
3. Time Management – Effective time management can
significantly improve our productivity and reduce stress. We must first be very clear about our
priorities and goals. Throughout the
day, we waste our time on so many tasks that are unimportant; that by the end
of the day we wonder where did all our time disappear. This is also due to our
habit of procrastination. The good news is that this is very simple to resolve.
A small amount
of planning can produce magnificent results. As we start each day, we can
divide our tasks and goals into four categories.
1)Important and Urgent – List only the tasks that are
important and need to be completed as soon as possible. Set this as priority 1.
2)Important and Not Urgent – List only the tasks that are
important to you, but do not need to be completed immediately. Set this as
3)Not Important and Urgent – List only the activities that
may not be important to you, but may be important to someone else. The most
effective option is to delegate this task to someone else, because it is
clearly not that important to us. If it were that important, it would be
labeled as priority 1.
4)Not Important and Not Urgent – List the
tasks that are not important and do not need to be completed as soon as
possible. This is so simple to understand, but consider how much time we waste
doing tasks that are not important and not urgent. Label this a priority 4, and
then ignore these tasks.
Think about how many of the tasks
listed as “Not Important and Not Urgent” do we prioritize as “Important and
Urgent”? This is a complete waste of time and energy. Imagine how much more
productive we would be if we focused on priority 1 instead of priority 4.
Furthermore, as we complete the priority 1 tasks on schedule, we will
eventually complete priority 2 ahead of schedule. We can then delegate
priority3 to someone else, and not perform the tasks listed as priority 4.
Procrastination is another time
management issue related to productivity. Many of us procrastinate either
because the task is too difficult or the task is too boring. All it takes is a
shift in attitude to overcome procrastination. If the task is important
(priority 1), do not procrastinate and complete it as soon as possible, and if
it is boring, shifting your attitude to one of acceptance and enthusiasm will
make the task more bearable.
It is often a misconception that high
productivity leads to happiness. On the contrary, it is the other way around;
happiness leads to high productivity. If we recall the patterns in our past, we
will notice that it was when we were happy and enthusiastic that we produced
the best results.
If we simply follow the principals of
letting go of past emotions, relaxing the body and mind, planning our time
effectively, and ultimately performing each task with joy and enthusiasm; we
can enhance our level of productivity while reducing stress.
boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” – Leo
has become so common these days that we have become accustomed to expecting it
from others. Before interacting with people, on some level we have already
rehearsed the conversation and our responses in our minds. Very often we
imagine these conversations as arguments, and pre-write the script of both
sides of the argument. However, when we actually reach the point of the
interactions, we realize that it was so smooth, and we wasted so much energy
rehearsing a situation that did not even occur. Rehearsing the script once
could be considered as planning, but rehearsing the same script over and over
again is paranoia.
often ask ourselves why are we frustrated? We usually respond to this by
blaming an outside situation or person. Even though on a deeper level we
understand the reason for the frustration, we refuse to accept it. This is
because we do not have control of our minds. We are running on autopilot mode –
act and react. In addition, we do not accept the present moment, and this
resistance causes frustration and stress. Moreover, we waste our energy
dwelling in the past that we cannot change, or worrying about the future, which
is always uncertain. We are also constantly comparing ourselves with others,
and end up feeling jealous, worthless, and depressed. All of these feelings
occur automatically, and make us feel as though we are destined to be this way.
We feel as though we have no freedom of choice because everything is happening
have become prisoners of the mind, but we fail to realize this. We blame our
imprisonment on our careers, finances, health, or relationships. If we do not
enjoy our jobs, it feels like a prison and we want to break free. If we do not
have enough finances, then living in a budget feels like a prison. If we are
not healthy, our bodies feel like a prison, and if we do not get the love we
expect from a spouse, then our relationships feel like prisons. Unfortunately,
it does not end here; if we are drowning in feelings of jealousy for any reason,
whom can we blame for this?
our perspective, the grass seems greener on the other side, but is it really
greener? Consider this true story - one day a monk visited a prison to give a
talk, and was asked by the prisoners to stay a little longer to answer a few
questions. The prisoners were interested to learn how the monk spends his day.
first prisoner asked the monk “What time do you wake up in the morning?”
monk replied, “We wake up at 4am”.
terrible, even in prison we don’t have to wake up at 4am.”
prisoner then asked him what do monks eat for breakfast. The monk said that
they eat a bowl of porridge.
is such a boring breakfast, in prison we get milk, eggs, cheese, bread, cookies
and much more”, said the prisoner.
the monk told them that after breakfast they do a lot of hard work such as
construction and gardening, followed by meditation.
rebellious voice, one prisoner responded by saying “we don’t work so hard, if
we are forced to work hard, we go on strike.”
monk was then asked what they do in the evening, do they have a chance to play
sports, play poker, or watch movies?
we meditate”, responded the monk.
a boring look on his face, a prisoner asked the last question, “What time do
you go to bed?”
monk replied, “we go to sleep at 10pm, but we don’t have beds, we sleep on the
now, the prisoners started to sympathize with the monk, and one prisoner finally
developed the courage to tell the monk “I’m sorry that you are living in such
terrible conditions, you are welcome to stay in the prison with us if you wish”.
story is a wonderful example of how we think. The prisoners initially thought
that the monk was living a wonderful life, but after they learnt about his day,
they realized that they are better off in prison. However, even though the life
of the monk seemed more boring, he was happy, simply because of his choice to
live in that manner, and his choice was reflected as happiness in his attitude.
No matter how many luxuries the prisoners had, they were unhappy because they
were forced to live in prison. If the prisoners simply accepted the situation,
changed their perspective and attitude, their life in the prison would be more
we encounter an unfavorable situation, we can simply remind ourselves that life
can always be worse. If we do not like our jobs, we can remind ourselves of all
the people who are unemployed and would kill to have our jobs. If we are
frustrated with our relationships, consider the loneliness of someone who may
have lost a parent, spouse, or child. If we are depressed about our weight or
beauty, we can remind ourselves of the cancer patients who are losing weight
and losing their hair. If we are tired of all the chores, imagine all the
disabled people who are craving to be able to walk, drive, cook, hear, and see.
Gratitude is a powerful transforming force, and if a situation can get worse,
it can also get better. So maintaining a positive mindset will make what we
define as “struggle” much easier. However, a positive mindset does not only
mean expecting a positive outcome, it truly means defining every outcome as
positive. And this becomes incredibly easy when we focus on gratitude.
situation that occurs in life is pre-labeled as positive or negative. It is completely our choice as to how we
define it. Similarly, we do not know the
journey of another soul, so judging their situations, as positive or negative
is also inaccurate. We may define a health condition of someone else as
negative, but we do not understand the amount of soul realization that the
person has achieved through the struggles. Wise individuals will always
acknowledge the positive outcomes of their situations, which others define as
can free ourselves from the prison of the mind by living in the present moment.
This will give us peace of mind and happiness, as we will no longer be attached
to the past or the future. This offers us a wonderful opportunity to
consciously make choices and accept full responsibility for the outcomes.
are 5 simple tips to free ourselves from the prison of the mind:
1.Accept the present situation as it is, without
2.We may not have control of our situation, but we
have full control of our attitude.
3.Jealousy is immature. We do not know the
struggles that the others have gone through to get where they are, nor do we
know the future outcomes of their “good luck”.
4.Switch off autopilot mode and live mindfully.
5.Do not dwell in the past or worry about the
future. Forget about the past that cannot be changed, and focus on the present
that will affect the future.
“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was.
And have faith in what will be.” – Sonia Ricotti
Have you noticed all the inauthenticity
in the world today? It ranges from food ingredients to clothes, jewelry,
electronics, organizations, governments; and even, people. The competitive
nature of the world has forced us to lose our essence and become someone
else.Due to this we are starting to
lose hope in our governments, organizations, family and friends. The media is
filled with stories of scandals about organizations and leaders that we once
believed were honest. Since the past 45 years people have become more depressed and the suicide rate has increased 60%.In the world; on average one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds.
Many of us are starting to realize this, and by
distancing ourselves; we are re-focusing our efforts inwards to re-align
ourselves towards the truth. Authenticity does not mean that we are perfect;
instead it means that we have recognized our imperfections, and striving to achieve
a higher level of excellence. We
understand that alone, we cannot change the system, but one-by-one if we
transform ourselves, slowly but surely, the environment around us will change.
A government cannot exist without its citizens, and
an organization cannot flourish without its members. Yet many leaders fail to
understand this because they have become accustomed to expect the citizens or
members to follow them, whether it is based on fear or power. Similarly, the
citizens and members have become accustomed to blindly follow the leader
without asking questions, even though they feel uncomfortable behaving in a
certain manner that is expected of them. This is due to the fear of the leader
as well as the community that is supporting the leader. We need a sense of
belonging to feel secure, and to attain this security we sacrifice the
potential of being our authentic selves.
It can often be observed that certain individuals
choose to distant themselves from specific people or organizations. This is because
they have witnessed so much injustice or lack of ethics, that instead of
attempting to offer their help for improvement, they choose to refrain from
interacting with those organizations or people. We only have a limited amount
of will power to stand up against unfairness, especially if others who feel the
same way do not support us.
Alternately, from the perspective of authentic
leaders, it is difficult for them to decide how to behave because they are
constantly being criticized or idolized. With thousands of opinions floating
around, and having so many lives dependent on their decisions; it becomes
extremely challenging for them to do the right thing for everyone. If we come
across such authentic leaders, it is best to remind ourselves how challenging
their roles must be, and refrain from any judgment.
When Gandhi was a law student, he was asked by the
manager of the dormitory to tell a little boy to stop having sugar. The manager
felt that the boy would listen to Gandhi because he admired and respected him.
So, Gandhi agreed. Two weeks later the manager asked Gandhi if he had told the
boy to stop eating sugar. Gandhi responded by saying yes he did, but only
today. The manager asked Gandhi why did it take him two weeks to tell the boy?
Gandhi responded by saying “because it took me two weeks to stop having sugar”.
This is a simple, yet profound example of being
authentic. Gandhi refused to guide or advise anyone, even a little boy, to
follow his advice if he could not do it himself. How often do we advise others
about what they should do, when we refuse to do it ourselves? Merely, because
we have the authority, we tend to feel that we have the responsibility to
change others. However, we focus so much on our “responsibility” that we forget
to look within ourselves, and in turn end up behaving like a hypocrite.
The world and the future generations are in dire need
of heart-oriented individuals that encourage uniqueness and collaboration. Authenticity
is attractive and contagious. Our beauty and brains will only take us so far,
but authenticity will take us all the way. As we become authentic individuals,
our virtues will shine from within us; and as we shine, we will unconsciously
give others the inspiration and empowerment to reveal their authentic selves.
Here are 5 simple tips to become more authentic:
1.Every day Invest a few minutes in silence to go
within and quiet the mind.
2.Focus on doing the “Right Thing,” not just simply
following guidelines and doing things right.
3.Listen to your intuition. Slowly allow your mind to
follow your heart to develop true intellect.
4.When you witness someone standing up for what is
right, appreciate and acknowledge them. Inspire yourself with their courage to
stand up for what you believe is right.
5.Always be honest with yourself. One who cannot
deceive himself, cannot deceive anyone else.
yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the
greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson