How Mindfulness Can Lessen the Stress of a Deadline
Attempting to meet a deadline can be a stressful experience for the busy professional. We can get lost in thoughts of panic about what will happen if we don’t finish a project, and attempts to avoid the panic felt with every tick of the clock are many and varied.
When you work from home, a deadline can be an incredible motivator to suddenly spruce up your workspace or check out a podcast you’ve been wanting to listen to. In the office, you’ll be more prone to chatting with a colleague or taking a phone call from a long lost client. These are all forms of escaping the present moment.
Deadlines force us to be completely present, instead of escaping. We can no longer put off until tomorrow what must be done today.
A mindfulness practice, even one we engage in just once per week, can help lessen the strain we’re feeling and save us time and energy.
When we hear the word “mindfulness”, we often think of meditation. The two are not the same. While I wholeheartedly recommend daily meditation (and provide several free guided meditations), mindfulness can be practiced casually and on the spot.
Here are three benefits of mindfulness, along with simple practices to make each benefit a reality.
Boost Your Creativity
When you’re working under a deadline, often the most daunting part of finishing your project will simply be starting it. It can be difficult to come up with a creative idea that you will build your work around.
Although it can feel counterproductive, taking the time to engage in a short mindfulness exercise can instantly boost your creativity.
Mindfulness, in this case, doesn’t need to be a formal exercise. Just sitting still and observing life around you, without judgement, is being mindful. When you’re feeling stuck creatively, change your vantage point. Go on a short and slow walk or poke around in your garden. Take a moment to fully savor a taste or smell.
Lessen the Intensity of Stress
As the quote above reveals, we feel discomfort when we forget to maintain perspective. When we have a project that is due, we can sometimes respond with panic and fear, a clear sign that the scenery has overshadowed the seer.
A daily meditation practice has been proven to lower stress, and incorporating short mindfulness exercises can help lessen the intensity of a looming deadline.
Meditating daily will help you build your ability to function in tense situations. When you need immediate help managing tension, however, there are “boosters” that can help you put things into perspective.
One of the most simple and effective methods for gaining perspective is engaging in a quick gratitude exercise. Simply list five things you are grateful for, and take a brief moment to connect with the physical sensations you feel when you think of each. This exercise only takes a couple of minutes, but it helps quickly redirect your focus to the things in life that really matter to you so that you can accomplish the task at hand with more levity and enjoyment.
Connect to Your Authentic Voice
Running your own business is difficult. On top of all of the daily tasks and project, there is also the concern of how you are perceived by your readers, customers, or clientele. We can become insecure when promoting ourselves, and it’s sometimes difficult to remember our authentic voice.
Fortunately, meditation helps remind us of who we are and what we are driven to do with our lives. We can emerge from meditation, exercise, or journaling with the clarity needed to accomplish our goals.
Mindful Journaling is the habit of logging your thoughts, in response to an inquiry or prompt, to help increase awareness. It is gaining exposure in the professional world because of its ability to help clarify and articulate our vision. There are many Mindful Journaling resources online, including a free workbook that I created, with entrepreneurs in mind, called “Rewrite Your Life”. (You can get your free copy here.)
Whether you take up meditation or simply engage in practical mindfulness exercises like the ones listed here, you will be able to manage deadlines more effectively so that you can keep your focus on what you’re meant to do: share your unique talents and gifts with the world.
Lisa Machac is a freelance writer and blogger. Lisa is the creator of Genuine, an online resource that simplifies self care in order to foster a sense of inner peace and altruism. Genuine connects readers with words of wisdom and self care and mindfulness practices to boost confidence, connection, and the desire to serve others.