Posted tagged ‘Performance’

Beat procrastination at work!

January 6, 2014


Most of the time, it may feel like procrastinating leads to disappointment, anxiety and stress. But procrastination is not always evil. Sometimes, it’s our inner self’s one way of saying “hey, you need to take a break”, or that something isn’t right.

Among the benefits of procrastination include putting unpleasant tasks aside in favour of pleasurable ones, avoiding the possibility of failure-or success, and lowering your anxiety.

But like all other things, too much procrastination is unhealthy. One major consequence is that it can make you less productive. It may also hinder you from working hard to achieve your priorities and getting what you really want in life.

If you find yourself procrastinating more than actually taking action, then you could be in real danger. Try doing the following tips and tricks to overcome too much procrastination and turn your plans and thoughts into a productive action!

Set up reminders.

It’s really a good idea to buy a daily planner so you will be guided of the things you need to accomplish for the day, or for the entire week. When you know what your priorities are, you will be more motivated to limit procrastinating and work more.

Wake up early.

If you do, you are more likely to finish your tasks early, especially if you work from home. And even if you are a regular office employee who has a fixed 9-to-6 schedule, you can still benefit from being an early riser. How? By getting up earlier than usual, you can actually give yourself time to reflect, make your to-do list, and probably formulate better solutions for your work issues.

Get up and move.

Being inactive can make you feel drowsy, unmotivated and uninspired. On the other hand, being physically active can spark your creativity, make you energetic and happier! So when you find yourself straying from your task to surfing the internet, browsing your FB news feed, or watching video clips, consider doing some stretching first. Just 10 minutes of physical activity can power your body up and activate your creative mind.

Find a healthy outlet.

Doing same things everyday can really be stressful at times, no matter how much you love your craft. And when you are stressed, you are more likely to procrastinate. To avoid this, find a healthy outlet. It can be something that you enjoy doing – cooking, sketching, reading, taking photos, etc. Give yourself at least 30 minutes everyday to do things you are passionate about. Call it “my time”.

Time yourself.

This is a very good way prevent procrastination. Set a specific timeframe for each task you need to do – say, 45 minutes, and then you can rest a bit. This helps you avoid burnout, especially when you’re working on complex projects.

Be mindful.

Be aware of your surroundings. Be aware of what you feel. When working, try hard not to let your mind wander from the present moment. This way, you can exert all your brainpower to your work and you can ensure a good outcome at the shortest possible time.

Give time for quietness.

Most of us spend lots of time plugged in to the digital world. But it can be overwhelming and stressful too. Set aside at least 15 minutes for mindfulness and quietness. Just free your mind. Think of nobody, think of nothing. Just focus on your breath. You will be surprised of how relieving this simple mental practise is!

Give yourself a break.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. As mentioned, procrastination is a warning sign than you need to rest or slow down. It’s okay to give in to procrastination once in a while. No matter how tight your schedule is, give yourself some time to rest. You deserve it anyway.

Work less.

One common reason why we procrastinate is that we bombard ourselves with so many tasks that even before we start, we are already feeling tired and overwhelmed. Learn how to prioritise your tasks. Identify which are urgent and at the same time important (not just urgent or not just important).  When you distribute your workload properly, you won’t feel too stressed. Also, learn to delegate some of your tasks. You are not a superhuman. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lessen your load.

Just do it.

When all else fails, just carry on with your work. Don’t get caught to making excuses. Just do what you’ve got to do. That task, no matter how difficult or overwhelming, will have an end.

Whenever procrastination is affecting your productivity, pick one or two of these strategies that are most suitable to your situation. They may just be what you need to stay focused and on track.


As always, I welcome your comments. And if you find this article useful – do let me know.


Richard Scott
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist


Part of the Core Health Centre


How to train your BRAIN to perform Under Pressure

September 17, 2013

3, 2 and 1 – your name has just been called and it’s time to perform.

There you are – standing on the stage, facing a crowd of people. Everyone’s looking at you, from head to foot. As you gaze at those strangers, you felt tension in your arms, neck, hands and all over your body. Everything moves like a slow motion movie. Yes, you are nervous. But the show must has to go on – you’re here to perform. So, what do you do…?

The Science behind ‘Grace under Pressure’

Everybody has the power to create a calm state of mind in order to deal with stress and pressure in an effective way. Studies on the human mind continue to prove that ‘grace under pressure’ is a skill that can be learned and applied in everyday life. And one way to elicit this special skill is to stimulate the vagus nerve.

The vagus never is known as the ‘wandering nerve’ because it has multiple branches that diverge from two thick stems rooted in the cerebellum and brainstem that travel or wander to the lowest viscera of your abdomen, touching your heart and most major organs along the way. When people say “trust your gut”, they are actually saying “trust your vagus nerve”.

The vagus nerve also plays an important role in your body’s ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ system. Signals from your conscious mind travel through the vagus nerve to tell your organs to create an inner-calm state so you can “rest-and-digest” during times of safety or prepare your body for action during dangerous situations.

The vagus nerve has the ability to slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and the activity in your other organs. But sometimes, the vagus nerve’s reflexive responses can backfire. Instead of keeping you calm and ‘in control’, it can intensify your body’s negative responses, making you feel overwhelmed, agitated, stressed and uneasy. You are also likely to experience undesirable physiological symptoms like racing heart, sweaty palms, dry mouth, upset stomach and shakiness.

But here’s the good news – you can actually stimulate your vagus nerve to elicit ‘grace under pressure’ and here’s how to do it:

Breathe, breathe and breathe.

You will be surprised of how a simple breathing technique, which involves repeatedly inhaling and exhaling deeply, can set your mind and body to succeed in a task. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is the key to stimulating the vagus nerve. This results to the slowing down of your heart rate and blood pressure, keeping you calm in times of performance anxiety.

Keep practising.

Your brain, particularly your cerebellum, has the power to store muscle memory, which gives you confidence to perform gracefully under pressure. Without prior preparation, we are forced to rely extensively on our pre-frontal cortex, which could get disengaged and hamper our performance.  So whatever it is – a posing routine, a song, a speech, a music recital, or a corporate presentation, don’t forget to rehearse. It really is helpful.

Match your skills with the challenge.

Creating a state of ‘flow’ involves matching your skill level with the challenge at hand. One good strategy to achieve this is to keep pushing yourself to the limits. Engage in activities that keep you nestled between anxiety and boredom and slowly move on to more challenging activities. This will keep your vagus nerve active but at the same time, not too exhausted.

Get moving.

Cardio-respiratory activities, including strength training and even yoga, stimulate your vagus nerve and harmonise hormones and neurotransmitters linked to ‘grace under pressure’. Exercising also helps steer your mind away from discouraging thoughts. At the same time, it boosts your mood which has a significant effect on your entire performance level.

Be careful who you stay with.

Prior a performance or presentation, stay away from anxious people. Like a cold, anxiety is contagious. The vagus nerve picks up on people’s vibe so if you’re with pessimistic individuals, you’re likely to think the way they do. If the situation doesn’t permit you to stay away from anxious people, engage in calming activities that distract your mind, like listening to music, practising those breathing techniques or even try a positive visualisation technique.

Practise compassion.

This may come as a surprise to you but compassion does have a good deal of benefits to helping you achieve grace under pressure. In a 2010 study published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers discovered a link between high vagal tone index and positive emotions, physical health and positive social connections. They also found that reflecting on positive social connections and working to improve them also caused improvements in vagal tone.

Cultivate optimism.

During stressful situations, you may hear your critical self, saying ‘you can’t do it’, ‘you’re going to fail’, and all other words of discouragement. That’s a normal mental response that is part of your brain’s survival instinct. But by generating positive emotions, you can direct your vagus nerve to work harmoniously with your mind and body to keep you calm and focused in the middle of any challenging task.

I often teach positive visualisation techniques to performers and sports people in order to enhance their abilities and reduce their stress levels. Please feel free to ask me further questions or advice.

Also, if YOU have any techniques which keep you motivated and focussed prior to a performance, please feel free to share them and help others.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Richard Scott
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist

Part of the Core Health Centre