Wright Foundation | July 28, 2016

Tips for Staying Focused
When Work Isn’t Exciting

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We all love the hum of productivity! When you’re closing deals and making sales, do you get a little high? A little thrill?

What about the first time you meet a new prospect? How does it feel to share the details of your business and ask how you can help? That first pitch conversation is just the best, isn’t it?

Even leading meetings and training new team members can be thrilling.

How about sharing your vision, coming up with a new plan, or implementing a strategy to tackle a problem? Maybe you’re hosting an event, running a board meeting, or taking your job to the next level—adrenaline is high and you’re engaged and “buzzing.”

We all love our jobs and feel satisfied during the exciting times—when we’re really working, closing, signing and winning! It might be challenging, yes, but it’s also fun as hell. Those moments are what drive us and propel us.

What about the rest of the time, though?

Why Work is a Bummer

What about the days when you have to enter numbers off your contact sheets into your database, work on your marketing plan for next year, or file tax forms? Some Analyzer personality types might really enjoy viewing the website metrics or planning for the next fiscal year, but the thought of leading a dynamic sales meeting leaves them quaking in their boots.

Energizers, on the other hand, might feel that dealing with data and crunching numbers is absolute torture! How stifling and miserable! Energizers shine when working with others and getting them psyched up for the next idea.

If you’re a Regulator, maybe you love the reassurance in knowing how everything’s working. You probably like having control, but when it comes to minutiae, you find yourself less engaged. Cooperators, too, may enjoy seeing how the team can share a vision and plan for upcoming events, but being sequestered away in an office to look over spreadsheets just becomes depressing.

Each different personality type brings different strengths to their team. No one can do it all—and it’s different strokes for different folks. The thing that makes your heart leap and gives you a high at work might give someone else anxiety or feel like drudgery.

So how do you keep the thrill alive and love your job, even when you don’t love the task at hand?

Finding Your Happy Place

No matter where you fit on the C.A.R.E. personality profile or what your Myers-Briggs type is, one thing’s for sure: not everyone is great at every aspect of a job. There are Regulators, Analyzers, Cooperators and Energizers and they play off each other and work together in an interdependent way.

Unfortunately, in small offices, you might only have one or two employees—maybe you even work solo. Unless you can afford an assistant whose Cooperator-Analyzer skills play perfectly with your Regulator-Energizer profile, chances are, every so often you’re going to end up facing a task you don’t love.

During one of the most productive times in my career, I was swamped with work. I was in the throes of working with several clients, finishing a book with Judith, and expanding our curriculum at Wright Graduate University. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t take well to plodding along at tasks I don’t find stimulating. I’m not the type of guy who loves doing paperwork and analyzing research. I love learning and discovering new things, but I prefer when it’s hands-on and stimulating, not poring through data.

Somehow, during this time when I was faced with paperwork and challenges, I found my most productive moments through learning to balance my work with mindfulness and meditation.

The Power of Meditation

When I was at the height of my productivity, I was spending a third of my time meditating. Twenty minutes of each hour, I’d lock my office door and work on my TM (transcendental meditation). The 40 minutes that followed, I experienced hyper-focused productivity. Because I was operating in a state of mindfulness and focus, I was able to achieve more in 40 minutes of focus than I could normally get done in an hour of distractions.

Now I know this might not be completely realistic for everyone. You might even cringe at the thought of closing your door to meditate for 20 minutes every hour. It’s not something I still do regularly, but it IS something I recommend for times when you’re facing major deadlines. It’s one of my most important tips for staying focused at work.

Turn off all distractions and learn to tune out the things that turn your head during your workday. Instead of going to the watercooler or the bathroom, or getting up to sharpen a pencil or straighten a pile of papers, push yourself to really focus. Let go of soft addictions like Facebook and social media, and keep your mind as focused as possible on the task at hand.

If you feel concentration is still a problem, then get expert coaching or instruction on how to meditate properly. This will help you learn to up-regulate and down-regulate your emotions so you can react to work situations with a high level of control and awareness. Learn to strengthen these skills and you’ll become more socially and emotionally intelligent.

Maybe, on the other hand, you’re the type of person who really loves getting absorbed in data and you don’t mind the spreadsheets—but you hate facing sales calls and meetings. Mindfulness can help you just as well. Instead of being bogged down with anxiety and “what if” scenarios before you get to a meeting, practice staying in the moment and facing the situation as it comes. Be present and in the moment and you’ll find yourself filled with less dread and despair.

Being engaged fully in what you’re doing (rather than stressing out about what’s to come or ruminating on the past) can keep you in the game and hitting home runs at the office, even when the job you’re facing isn’t your favorite.

We all have aspects of our job we love and some that just get under our skin. When in doubt, revisit your larger vision and goals for your career. Each task, no matter how basic, boring or stressful should be moving you toward that bigger picture. It’s learning to balance your reactions with the things you don’t love to do and keeping yourself in a present, mindful state that will help you love your job each and every day.

For more tips for staying focused at work and bringing out your best at work and in your day-to-day life, join us in Chicago for our next  More Life Training. You’ll learn how to find the positive in your life and bring out your strongest, most engaged self.

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.