There isn’t a productivity guide in the world that will solve the problems that pretty much all of us face daily.

I’m the same as you — I face these obstacles to getting stuff done:

  1. Doing busywork, instead of important work.
  2. Going to distractions instead of doing difficult work.
  3. Being tired and not feeling like tackling hard tasks.

These are all really the same problem: when you have important but difficult tasks to do, you run to distractions, or do busywork, or just goof off because you don’t have the energy.

I deal with this every day, and I don’t always solve it. But what if we could dive into this problem, and figure out what was going on? We’d be masters of the universe.

Pause Training

In truth, we face this problem of running from discomfort all the time, but we just don’t normally see it happening. This is why meditation is such a great training ground for the mind — you sit there and have nothing to do but notice the mind running from the discomfort of the present moment. Over and over. And in time, you learn how to work with this.

So I suggest you use your important tasks as meditation training, so that you’ll learn to work with the discomfort that arises.

Here’s how:

  1. Pick one important task you really should get done today.
  2. Clear space in front of you to do this task. Close the browser, or all browser tabs except the one you need to deal with this. Shut off the phone, clear everything else away, focus your mind on this one task.
  3. Sit there and do the task.
  4. Watch your mind want to run.

Now we’re going to do “pause training,” where instead of running from the discomfort, you pause. Breathe. Turn your attention to this discomfort — it might be fear, frustration, uncertainty, self-doubt, tiredness. Drop your story about this discomfort, and just notice how it feels physically, in your body. Where is this feeling of discomfort located? What quality does it have?

You’ll notice that the discomfort actually doesn’t feel that bad, even though you habitually want to run from it. It’s just energy. It’s not actually good or bad, but just energy that’s in your body, which you normally don’t want to have and normally judge as “bad.”

Try this pause training for yourself. It won’t work to just read about it, you have to work with it. Get to know it, become intimate with it.

Unconventional Productivity

Once you’ve started to work with the discomfort, you’ll see that it’s No Big Deal. Nothing to worry about. It’s just a feeling, just energy. You’ll relax a little around it. Try to develop a friendly attitude toward it, instead of being harsh on yourself. Just notice, just smile, just breathe, just be gentle.

How do you turn this No Big Deal into productivity?

Here’s a system to try:

  1. Set your 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) every morning, first thing when you start work. List a few other “should dos” after that, but focus on the MITs first.
  2. Pick one of the MITs, and clear space to do it. Before you check email.
  3. Do some pause training. Notice when you want to run from this task, pause, investigate the physical feeling of discomfort with gentleness, friendliness and curiosity.
  4. Set a heart intention. When you relax into the discomfort, and see it’s not a big deal, set an intention around the task — are you doing it to improve your life, to do something good for someone else, to help the world? Find the heart in your intention — it’s ultimately coming out of love. Say to yourself, “It is my intention to do this task out of love for __” (fill in the blank: yourself, someone else, the world, etc.)
  5. Work with love. Open your heart and do this task with the love that comes out of your intention. Notice when you’re feeling discomfort and want to switch to something else. Relax, do pause training if you need to, and then start again.
  6. Take breaks. Every 10-15 minutes, get up and walk around. Stretch. Drink water. Check in with yourself and see how you’re doing. Then return to the task or pick another MIT.

You won’t be perfect at this, so don’t expect perfection. Just work with it, gently, and you’ll get better and better with practice.

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7 of The Best Apps to Train and Boost Your Brain (Put Your Mind to the Test)

There are hundreds if not thousands of apps out there for boosting your brain. Most of them aim to increase cognitive functioning, helping you improve memory, problem solving skills and processing speed. Others can help you recall words faster or improve your reading comprehension.

Keeping your mind active is as important as any physical exercise and these apps can help you stay fit mentally. If you want to dedicate time to improving your brain’s health, some of these apps can get you started quickly.

1/ Peak

Peak is brain training redesigned for the mobile you. Challenge your cognitive skills and build healthy training habits with fun but stimulating games, goals and workouts.

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2/ Elevate

Elevate is a brain training program designed to improve attention, speaking skills, processing speed, memory, math skills, and more. Members are provided with a personalized game-based training program that adjusts over time based on performance.

3/ Fit Brains

Fit Brains helps you train crucial brain skills such as memory, concentration, problem-solving, processing speed, language, and visual-spatial recognition. Fit Brains feels a lot more like a video game, which may be just what you need to stay motivated and on track.

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4/ Personal Zen

Built by a team of leading neuroscientists and mobile developers, playing Personal Zen retrains your brain to lower stress and anxiety. Just like exercising for physical health, we can exercise our brain for better mental health and wellness!

5/ Happify

How we feel matters. Whether you’re feeling sad, anxious and stressed, or you’re dealing with constant negative thoughts, Happify brings you effective tools and programs to take control of your emotional wellbeing.

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6/ Lumosity

Challenge your Memory, Attention, and more. Lumosity combines 25+ cognitive games into a daily training program that challenges your brain. Games adapt to your unique performances — helping you stay challenged in a wide variety of cognitive tasks.

7/ Headspace

Headspace is a gym membership for the mind. A course of guided meditation, delivered via an app or online. The starter course, Take10, is free. If you enjoy Take10 and want to learn more, you can choose to continue and get access to hundreds of hours of meditations.

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