Helping Clients Maintain Focus and Productivity

Maintain focus and productivity

It has been close to one year now. Since early spring 2020, we’ve grown accustomed to having to get by with less, seeing family and friends less frequently – if at all – and working long hours remotely. Many of us, along with our clients, have had to make drastic changes in not only our lifestyles and routines, but our ways of communicating, working, and relating. A client recently told me that he’s struggling to maintain his focus and productivity while working from home. It was exciting at first, but as time goes on, he reports being easily distracted and feeling somewhat isolated. He’s not alone. I thought it may be timely to share some tips I’ve used to help my clients overcome these challenges.

New Feelings May Emerge From Staying at Home

A while after I co-wrote the blog post on ikigai with Ksenia Lazoukova, I was sent a link to some other wonderful Japanese words that capture feelings or activities that may be difficult to describe in English. Two of these words – satori and hikikomori – caused me to reflect upon the experience of staying at home. One day while meditating, I found myself wondering how, a decade ago, staying at home – either for personal reasons or for work – was not something that was trending. And yet, the pandemic has changed all that. The experience of staying at home, except to venture out for essential needs, might seem confining, or even debilitating, for many people.

For many home represents a safe, welcoming space and sanctuary, while for others, it may represent a place they want to escape from, at least temporarily. For these individuals, the physical work location was the place they could escape to until the pandemic imposed the need for remote work. Many of us have found ourselves experiencing new – and somewhat surprising – feelings about the concept of “home.”

Satori: A Time for Awakening and Enlightenment

The pandemic has awakened people to the understanding that once traditional societal constructs, relationships, and popular trends that we all took for granted are now calling us to be open to the “new and next.” This change in mindset comes with a deeper sense of awareness, gratitude, and appreciation for the things – big and small – that are good in our lives. For those of us fortunate enough to have them, our homes may be one of the things we have a renewed appreciation for. We are reminded to enjoy the simple things, to step back to the shore, regain balance, and see a new dawn that may just give us a signal that we can make a difference. Today is a new day and it’s going to be okay!

If we choose to adopt the mindset of awakening or enlightenment known as satori, we will understand its ultimate purpose for our growth and transformation.

Hikikomori: A Call to Self-Reflection and Awareness

Hikikomori is the notion of socially withdrawing, shutting yourself off from the world, or pulling inward. While we have had many of these moments since 2020, we are reminded that even in isolation, we are deeply connected and that our purpose or “reason for being” is intertwined with those of others. The concept of hikikomori cautions us that we need to take care of ourselves and our mental health wellness. There are times when we need to retreat from the outside world so we can understand ourselves better, redefine our vision and mission, and renew our energies. Even in solitude, we have the immense power to tap into our inner resources to heal and restore our whole being.

But there are also times when we need support, collaboration, and acknowledgement from others. Sometimes we need to reach out and extend assistance and healing to others who may be experiencing hikikomori.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African proverb

One Year In: Ten Tips for Helping Clients Maintain Focus and Productivity

The traditional in-person office workday of 9 to 5 has, for the most part, become a thing of the past. The boundaries between work and home have become integrated and the concept of time has shifted. The saying “work smarter” has been replaced with “work and think creatively.” Being able to work and think creatively is necessary in order to adapt to the rapid pace of the workforce and life’s demands. From job losses to industry shifts and temporary – even permanent – business closures, it seems like “chaos” has become a normal condition on most days. However, all these changes are a signal of rebirth, a new beginning, and an opportunity to foster innovation.

Here are 10 tips for helping your clients stay focused and productive while working at home:

  1. Start your day on the right foot. Routine or a sense of structure serves as an anchor to setting your day off on an empowering note. Whether that means honouring your early morning meditation ritual, squeezing in time for 15 minutes of exercise, or eating a healthy breakfast at a set time, these little things go a long way toward ensuring balance.
  2. Set up and maintain a clear schedule. Set one to two small goals each day. Have a visible board to write on or large calendar handy that neatly outlines all your appointments and tasks.
  3. Ditch the to-do list and replace it with an accomplishments list. Lately, I find that writing out to-do lists is just a reminder of a long – and somewhat overwhelming – list of tasks that need to be tackled. The list may leave me feeling disheartened. Rather, I write out a few keywords that will help me stay focused. I make a mental note each day of what needs to get done and at the end of the day, I write down what I achieved. This leaves me with a confidence boost.
  4. Experiment with a little colour therapy. Whether that means wearing a bright scarf or a red shirt for an energy lift, or holding an amethyst crystal, colour can revitalize your mind and increase the centers in the brain responsible for concentration.
  5. Take time each day for exercise. Make fitness a part of your daily routine. If you can get out and catch some sunshine, that will ensure that you receive your daily dose of Vitamin D which will relieve depression, fatigue, and stress-related symptoms.
  6. If you get stuck on completing a task, put it away, and resume it during your “peak hours.” Doing physical chores will help you get unstuck and escape your overactive mind. Continue with the task during your “peak time” and you can significantly increase your productivity. How do you know when your peak time is? At what time of the day are you at your personal best and when is your focus the sharpest?
  7. Tune into your soundbox. Sound has an impact on our nervous system. I have a soundbox in my office that plays the sounds of the ocean, which helps me relax and increase my focus when working.
  8. Stay hydrated. Ever notice how you can get grumpy when dehydrated? Ensure that you get your daily 8-10 glasses of water each day. Staying hydrated is important for releasing toxins, and sustaining concentration and high energy levels.
  9. Be grateful for your natural gifts and talents. At the end of the week, note not only what you have accomplished, but what these accomplishments mean for you and for others. What skills have you utilized or mastered? What are you grateful for? Keeping a gratitude journal is especially important during these challenging times.
  10. Seek inspiration. I receive inspiration from yoga, prayer, and even reading spiritual books. Ask for help or support. Read something truly inspirational. Count backwards from 10 to 1 and see how your mind switches modes from busy to tranquil.

Focus on What You Want Versus What You Don’t Want

A helpful NLP technique is the Outcome Frame that will help you shift your perspective, regain focus, and maximize performance. This technique enables you to focus on positive outcomes. When we end up focusing on what we don’t want rather than what we do want, we drain our energies and derive few results. Louise Hay, a famous spiritual author and New Age healer suggested retraining your self-talk into positive affirmations that will consciously create change. But ironically, we often do not always notice that we are focusing on the problem and its symptoms rather than the intended outcome.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I want?
  • Why do I want to achieve this goal?
  • How can I achieve these results?
  • What resources do I need to achieve these results?

Often when people reside in the “problem” mindset, they focus on self-blame or their flaws or weaknesses. Do you ever find yourself asking, “Why did this happen to me”?

Start reframing your thoughts by creating and speaking positive, empowering outcome statements.

For example: “I will complete this project this week,” instead of “This is impossible because I have ten other projects to complete this week.”

Reflect on what you would be experiencing if you were not in the problem situation. Be always grateful and remember that often the universe never gives you what you cannot handle. Being focused on achieving a higher purpose is the most precious gift that you can give yourself and others right now!

Stay empowered and focused on your life and work – invest in the new work-life coaching program with CPC!

Lori Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.

Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

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Lori, this is a fantastic list. Thank you. It will serve so many. With our ‘blurred lines’ now, maintaining a schedule helps reduce that. One other thing that I have found quite useful is to get dressed as if going into the office. I also recommend to clients they do a bit more, some little extra they would do if they were going somewhere special. It can also lift the spirit.
You are such a great writer!

Thanks, Lotte, for your positive feedback. I agree that dressing up professionally does reframe the mindset and can increase focus and confidence. Great strategy for success!

Lori, thank you for sharing the beautiful Satori and Hikikomori concepts and creating this great list of simple steps to maintain structure, focus, and a positive outlook while we are working from home and settling into our new norms. Your tips are so simple and so essential. I love them all, and my favourite one is to play music while working. I find it very relaxing too, and it helps me to get through a large workload. I agree with Lotte’s comment on dressing up professionally every day to create a working mode. I also really love the idea of having a set routine and dedicating a part of our home to a private workspace. 

I really like the idea of an accomplishments list. I use Todoist and it’s great for keeping track of my priorities, but there’s no quick and easy way to see what I’ve completed. Even just a small notebook to jot those things in as I finish them (or make headway on them) would be interesting to see.