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Productive Meditation

Jonas Achouri Sihlén
Jonas Achouri Sihlén
4 min read
Productive Meditation
Photo by Bruno Nascimento / Unsplash

How To Enhance Our Productivity Through Daily Movement.

There is no rocket science around the fact that physical exercise enhance our productivity. Luckily we don't have to be neuroscientists either to truly understand the benefits of movement. We can "stand on the shoulders" of the scientific giants and apply the research already provided to us. We can start practicing the methods that enhance the human experience by upping our game for real productivity, already today.

There is a concept known as productive meditation. This practice means that we use our bodies and minds to occupy ourselves physically, not mentally, to excel better in our daily work.

You may have obligations at work to complete, such as writing an article, shipping a new design or or preparing for a team workshop. To be able to complete this type of work we need to constantly bring our attention back when we start to mentally deviate to shallow distractions.

In my own quest to practice deep work and reaching the goals to create and share what matters the most, I have fought against the fake notion that I waste valuable time when I go to the gym, go for a run or a walk for that matter.

Even though I am not specifically writing, building or contributing to anything "productive" when I am on my walk there is a clear benefit I sense once back. The intensity is amazing and the ability to think clearly and focus deep is enabling me to complete demanding tasks and challenges I rarely can tackle with the same quality and depth otherwise.

So back to what the science tells us about productive meditation and how you can incorporate it to your daily habits.

Using The Distance To Our Advantage

In Swedish we have a word for daily incorporated exercise: We call it "Vardagsmotion". That is the type of physical exercise you squeeze in to your days that could otherwise be neglected.

For example:

  • Bike/Run/Walk to work.
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator if possible.

Are you working mostly from home? Variate your positions by the desk. How many different positions can you come up with?

Set a timer for 60-90 minutes  or use the break between meetings to stretch your body, take a short walk or stand upside down (if you are the physically gifted type of person).

If You Need More, Find What's "Yours"

Are you the physically ambitious type of person who requires more challenges? There is no single way of moving and no way that you have to adhere to "move like this, or you'll die"-approach. Find what is fun and what your body responds to.

Swimming, running, biking, walking, climbing, kicking, punching, jumping, ice-skating, roller-blading, surfing, hiking etc etc. You get the point. Find what you like and the type of play you get true joy from, despite how hard it will be. Many people still try to find what they love and if you have found an activity that you can enjoy even in those sessions you find it really hard, you are at the right place.

Scheduled Breaks

We all know that it is so easy to down-prioritise that walk or run when we have a long backlog of items to complete throughout the day. But believe me, if something is not really burning you are better off logging out for an hour and take some fresh air or have a walk and talk with a friend and/or colleague.

Can you use your lunch breaks for an extra walk/run/gym session? Do you have any co-worker to schedule a short walk with? Even if you work remote, maybe you can schedule a walk and talk through phone?

Find Your Daily Rhythm

Like most habits, it will take some time to really get the benefits out this. It usually takes us several iterations to feel that most of the tasks and projects get completed with a different speed and quality than they use to before we got to our new physical habits.

To redesign our lives for our wellbeing should be as important to redesign our lives for our work. If we know that one walk per day helps us to become a better employee, employer, parent, leader, individual contributor etc. we should be generous with our time and treat ourselves with that time-slot for our own wellbeing.

Every human being is unique but what we tend to have in common is that we have usually have this slot every day where we have the option to scroll social media or go out for a walk. For some people it is during lunch, "fika" or in the morning. For others it may be a nice evening session. The point is to get it to a daily habit. And we shouldn't forget to keep it small. Doing one single thing for 15 min per day is better than trying to squeeze in every exercise there is in 90 minutes per week.

To Summarize

What we are after here is to train our mental capacity to focus and fight against the distractions that pop-up through our work. We want to achieve an intense ability to focus at the time when we need it the most. To achieve this state of mental resilience we need to step out of our normal work and use our body to feed our system, through movement.

Because we are not simply brains in a jar.