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What Yoga Can Teach You About Being More Productive: How to NamaSTAY Focused

Whether you’re the owner of a big time ad agency or the newest entry-level designer at the local sign shop, increased productivity is a win-win for all. From the owner’s perspective the benefit is clear. More productivity leads to increased profitability and a healthy bottomline. Margaritas on the beaches of Mexico anyone? Moving on down the ladder, the importance of productivity, and the resulting profit, tends to lessen. That is a mistake.

The more peanut butter on the knife, the more nutty goodness there is to spread out over the piece of toast. If you’re starting at the far edge and expect more than a morsel of that spread when you get to the other side, you better be putting some effort toward keeping more PB on that knife! In other words, don’t be disappointed by the end result when you didn't plan, prepare and stay focused in the first place.

We’ve established that productivity should be a priority regardless of your current position on the ladder (or toast so to speak). Now what?! It’s not like you can just add productivity as a line item in your budget, or hit the drive-thru every Monday and supersize your productivity. There’s no plug-in, extension, or premium version of your work app to instantly deliver increased production… not yet anyway. Boy, when that one hits the market buy all the stock you can!

There are plenty of ways to find improvements in productivity, but let’s break it down a bit. In terms of business, the word “profitable” means yielding profit or financial gain. To increase profitability, you must yield more with same (or less) amount of work. Cue increased productivity. More for less, that’s efficiency. Efficiency is the key to increased production which leads to greater profitability. Henry Ford knew it back in 1913, by streamlining production with the assembly line he became the pioneer for working smarter, not harder. 

If efficiency is the backbone to productivity, then focus is the nervous-system of efficiency and that is where yoga comes in. See, we got there. I bet you were wondering if the that was a typo in the title.

3 ways yoga can make you more profitable:

Seated Meditation: Concentrate on your breath. Your inhalation and your exhalation. As you inhale through your nose, stretch up through the crown of your head. Allow your stomach to raise and fall. If your mind begins to wonder, just bring your attention back to your breath.

Eliminating distraction is the foundation of focus. Don’t waste resources on actions that aren’t going to produce a result.

If you’re collecting five print quotes for a colleague to review, don’t pause after three to check you Facebook news feed. Zero in on the task at hand, target your efforts on completing your task first. You reduce wasted energy and that’s increasing efficiency! Already, you’re one step closer to a more productive workflow. Go ahead and reward your success with a quick scroll through your feed.

90=26+2: 90 minutes. 26 poses. 2 breathing exercises. These are all things you can expect from any Bikram class. Somehow, even with different instructors, with a variety of narratives, different emphasizes, and in studios all over the world, you still get 26 and 2 in 90. How is that possible? Proper planning and focus. By outlining the 90 minutes according to time per pose and focusing on that time throughout class, your Bikram instructor ensures you get the 26 and 2 in 90 that you came for.

You too can ensure the timely completion of a task with a plan. Say your boss comes to you Monday morning and says “I need 10 blogs by the end of the week.” Hopefully you don’t wait until Thursday afternoon to get started. A more successful plan would be to break up the week. 10 blogs in 5 days, 2 blogs each day. Totally doable and plenty of time to work on all the other projects that are on your plate.

Sun Salutation: Inhale your arms up. Exhale fold forward. Inhale half lift. Exhale hands down and go back. Adho mukha shvanasana—downward facing dog. Sun salutations are the warm up of the yoga world. Progressive cycles are intended to prepare your body for the practice to come. You can prepare mind in the same way.

Let’s be realistic. You might not be able to budget the time for a mind warm up before every one of your tasks. But this idea of needing some time to warm up into your most productive work mode should be considered while you’re planning your time and breaking up your workweek. If you break up your day into too many small increments, you’ll never hit that sweet spot in productivity and that missed opportunity for efficiency will eventually add up to wasted time and lost profit.

Of course there are ways to keep agile in a face-paced environment, but whether you prefer to rock the simple, straight, and steady tadasana (mountain pose), work your magic in the twisted complexity of baddha paddmasana (bound lotus pose), or relax into the ever popular savasana (corpse pose), remember these core yoga takeaways for productivity: Focus. Plan. Prepare.

Namaste.

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