This is not my typical “Fundamentals” post. Instead, I want to describe a simple meditative exercise that some people might find useful. Just remember that you have to actually do it to get the benefits of it. For the people I work with on their own productivity and workflow, I call this quick exercise resetting your focus.
What This is For
This is specifically for when you have been doing work or have a lot going on, and you feel like your mind is going in a lot of different directions. It’s a sort of mental fatigue that a lot of people describe, particularly those who deal with a lot of information or who have to switch tasks often. The goal here is to regain a degree of focus that you might feel like you’re lacking, and it’s based on a really simple idea that only takes a couple of moments. It’s actually a type of meditation, but it’s condensed into a particularly short period of time. You won’t get a full meditative benefit, but that’s not what this is for. This is to quickly clear a lot of that built-up junk out of your mind and to help you regain focus.
Use this when you’re switching to a new task and feel overwhelmed with where to start, or use this when you’re in the middle of a prolonged task and feel like you’re losing focus.
How This Exercise Works
You have to do every one of these steps to make this work. You can do this whenever you want as long as you can completely and totally do each of these steps fully. Note you can be standing or sitting when you do this, but you can’t be walking or moving around. Doing this in a car, bus, train, airplane, etc. is fine, but you want to be able to sit or stand still while you do it.
- Stop what you are doing completely. Don’t try to do this exercise while you are doing anything else at all.
- Close your eyes. Keep them closed for the entire exercise. Don’t worry; this won’t take long.
- Take a regular breath and exhale completely.
- Take a long, slow, deep breath as far in as you can take it without it hurting. Be slow and steady with this, but not so slow that you end up gasping for air. Breathe in through your nose.
- Focus completely on the physical feeling of the air entering your nose during this entire breath.
- Once you have inhaled all the way, pause and hold it for a slow count to five in your head. Literally think to yourself, “One… Two… Three… Four… Five.” Focus completely on this count.
- When you hit five, slowly exhale, and focus completely and totally on the physical feeling of the air exiting your nose.
- Open your eyes, decide what you’re doing next and start into it.
That’s all there is to this exercise. It takes around 30 seconds, and it helps tremendously with resetting your focus to either a new task or back on a task you were already performing.
If this works for you, then you may want to look at a simple, ten-minute meditation using a similar format to help with your mindfulness and productivity in general.