Personal, Team, Quick win Set time limits for every task
Habit Bank - Mental Topic - Set time limits for every task

Setting a time limit for every task no matter how little can make you incredibly efficient in maximizing time at work and clearing your workload.

Personal, Team, Quick win Lead and participate in meetings with mindfulness
Habit Bank - Mental Topic - Lead and participate in meetings with mindfulness

Consider an electronics ban – “check your cell phones and computers at the door” – except for the person taking minutes at the meeting.

Personal, Quick win Turn off smartphone notifications
Habit Bank - Mental Topic - Turn off smartphone notifications

The constant dinging of emails, texts, tweets, Facebook messages, to-dos, etc., is distracting and breaks concentration. Badges on apps beg for your attention, which can seize your attention. Turn those off to give your attention the space to focus in an absorbed way on one thing at a time. You can always turn notifications on if you’re expecting something important or when not doing something where you need to concentrate and/or be present.

Personal Manage your inbox
Habit Bank (English) - Mental Topic - Manage your inbox

Resist the urge to continually refresh your inbox. Set specific times to manage your email to allow for absorbed focus. Share when you plan to manage your email by including a note in your email signature and/or with an autoresponder.

Personal, Quick win Give your mind a break
Habit Bank - Mental Topic - Give your mind a break

By implementing “no-phones-during-lunch” or “device-free commutes” habits, you’ll give your mind the space to renew and unwind.

Personal Meditate
Habit Bank (English) - Mental Topic - Meditate

Incorporate meditation into your work day. Start small with just three minutes to quiet your mind by focusing on your breathing. This will release tension, refresh your mind and prepare you for what’s next. Meditation is great for stress reduction, a powerful way to connect to your inner wisdom and genius, and an effective way to train your focus and attention. Be patient - it takes practice to stop the mind chatter. For best results, do a mini meditation 2-3 times/day – this can be in the form of simply taking three deep breaths – check out the “Just breathe” habit for instructions.

Personal, Quick win Help coworkers manage their time
Habit Bank - Mental Topic - Help coworkers manage their time

To help others manage their energy and priorities, put an “action/input requested” line complete with due date/time early in the body of e-mail messages when asking others for help. That way, they can quickly see any action that is requested and when they need to complete the action. It’s clear and concise, and they don’t have to read the whole e-mail, unless they need further context.

Team Test assumptions
Habit Bank - Mental Topic - Test assumptions

Foster an environment where team members of all levels can freely voice concerns regarding requests or deadlines perceived as unnecessary or unrealistic. Aim to achieve this by initiating daily discussions on priorities and be a champion for your team in challenging unnecessary or unrealistic requests.

Personal, Quick win Step away from the screen
Habit Bank - Mental Topic - Step away from the screen

It sounds counterintuitive, but taking a break with time away from a task will allow you to work harder and more efficiently once you return. The most effective breaks are spent away from all screens, preferably on your feet or in the company of others. But the best break of all is the one that makes you feel good – so whether it be a 20-minute power nap or 10-minute stroll around the building, know that your brain will always benefit from a little you-time.

Personal Just breathe
Habit Bank - Mental Topic - Just breathe

Practice some simple breathing techniques: (1) Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of three, (2) Hold your breath for a count of two, and (3) Exhale completely through your mouth for a count of six. Embed it into your day by including a short breathing exercise in your meeting agendas.

Personal Do one thing at a time
Habit Bank (English) - Mental Topic - Do one thing at a time

Practice doing only one thing at a time for a day working your way up to a week. That means no scrolling through emails on your phone while waiting for your coffee. Keep only one browser tab open at a time. Only have the minimum programs open on your computer at a time to address the single task you are addressing. Try to work in uninterrupted 90-minute sprints before taking breaks. It may be uncomfortable at first, but this experiment will let you quickly assess how deeply reliant you are on multi-tasking while strengthening your focus at the same time.

Personal Read a book!
Habit Bank - Mental Topic - Read a book!

Reading is not only rewarding in itself, but it's also a great attention-building practice. Begin with a subject or genre that demands less absorption and work your way towards books that require more focus. The practice will quiet your mind and lengthen your attention-span.

Personal Learn something new daily
Habit Bank - Mental Topic - Learn something new daily

Successful leaders are linked by one common thread – they read and educate themselves daily. Dedicate yourself to constant learning. It's mentally stimulating and broadens your knowledge. Make your commute and/or lunch breaks a learning session. Even 15 minutes a day can add up.

Personal Do the most important thing first
Habit Bank - Mental Topic - Do the most important thing first

Most of us have the highest energy and the fewest distractions at the beginning of the day. Decide the night before on the most important task for the following day. Try to do it first thing, for 60-90 minutes without interruption.

Team Limit the number of team members in meetings and calls
Habit Bank - Mental Topic - Limit the number of team members in meetings and calls

Other team members can get up to speed via a shared Meeting Notes document (on Google). Assign an attending team member to type notes in real-time, when possible, and include action steps and follow up items to set post-meeting expectations.

Book your flight and take your vacation
Habit Bank (English) - Mental Topic - Book your flight and take your vacation
Frequent vacationers are healthier and happier than those who don't vacation. Don’t let your earned time go unused. Knowing that you have something on the calendar helps a lot. Here are some ideas to make the most of your vacation:
  • Make sure you have delegated your work for your time away
  • Set your out-of-office notification
  • Leave your laptop at home
  • Don't check your smartphone or email
  • If you have to do work, designate an hour or two in the morning to devote to it and spend the rest of the day relaxing and renewing