As a small business owner there is always something to do, whether it’s the day-to-day runnings of your business, your sales campaign, or getting on top of those dreaded books. We hear you! This week we are featuring a guest blog by hypnotherapist Sara Maude with tips on how to boost your productivity – so you can make the most of your time and get on doing with what you love.

I am once again in the throes of moving house. Having only moved from Brighton to Edinburgh a year ago I can’t say I am relishing the thought of packing up my home, tripping over boxes and getting on my hands and knees to clean in all the nooks and crannies. On top of that I still need to keep the tide of industry moving, run my two businesses, deliver workshops, and try not to age or become an alcoholic in the process.

Luckily, having mastered the inner workings of the mind, I have tricked my mind into thinking it’s Wonder Woman, minus the red hot pants and white boots.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing like a bit of pressure to focus your mind and get you moving right? Well that depends on whether the pressure is akin to ‘woohoo let’s do this’ or more like ‘oh my God, where’s the nearest bridge’.

People talk about adrenaline being a good thing, but did you know there are two very different hormones produced by your adrenal glands?

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) and cortisol are both produced by the adrenals. DHEA is vital to health. It has a positive effect on your mood and cognitive function together with a host of other health benefits including the production of testosterone and oestrogen. So if you have a lot on your plate to contend with, but you still have a smile on your face while dealing with it and a spring in your step knowing you can cope with whatever comes your way, then great, you will be producing DHEA to help you as you sail along.

If, on the other hand, you feel overwhelmed by all the things on your task list, the voice in your head is telling you that you can’t cope, you feel like you can’t see the end in sight and you are becoming more drained and snappy by the day, then no, stress won’t be good for you. Because instead of producing DHEA, your body will be producing cortisol. Cortisol is part of the fight and flight response – in short your survival response. One sniff of this and your body goes into lock down. Your thinking brain shuts down, energy normally used for digesting your food and fighting off infections gets diverted into the adrenal glands and your body gets you pumped up to fight or take flight. You may be reading this thinking, ‘If I’m pumped up that’s a good thing right?’

Wrong. Your body is getting you pumped up to fight off its mind equivalent of a twenty tonne lorry hurtling at you. If your survival really was at stake, you don’t need to think, or make good decisions, or be creative – you need to act.

Unfortunately, your brain doesn’t know the difference between a twenty tonne lorry coming at you, or you sitting in front of your to do list and not knowing where to start. Your body is just feeding off your thoughts and emotions and producing the relevant chemicals needed in the body.

Therefore, to become more productive, you have to change the messages your body is receiving. Try the following 3 ways to turn you into your own super hero

1. Breathe

Hopefully you are actually still breathing, otherwise we really have a problem. But the chances are, you aren’t breathing properly. Your breath and your heart are inextricably linked. This means you can use the power of the heart to influence what your brain is doing. Your heart is 1,000 times more powerful than your brain on an electromagnetic level, so by using the heart’s energy, you can send a message to the brain to calm everything right back down again.

Place your hand over your heart and take your focus of attention to your heart. Imagine you are breathing in and out of the heart with even breathes, such as in for the count of 4 and out for the count of 4. Do this for a few minutes and if you find that your mind wanders, that’s OK, just bring it back to the heart. Then think of someone you love and let your heart fill with that feeling of love for them. It can even be your pet. Your body is reading your emotions 24/7 and acting upon them, so by allowing your body to fill with a positive emotion, like love, it picks up on the signal that all is well.

You can stay like this for as long as you wish, but usually 5 to 10 minutes is enough to calm down the brain and bodies responses. By switching off the survival signal, you will be able to think more clearly and rationally and better able to see solutions to problems.

2. Stop eating junk

Have you ever heard someone say ‘I need a sugar boost’? It’s usually about 3.00pm when their energy is around their ankles. Before I got wise about the way the body works, I would have been one of them, reaching for a mouthful of chocolate to see me through the day.

Now I know that eating any form of sugar actually robs the body of it’s energy. Why? Because the body was never designed to intake sugar, it’s a pure man made substance. When we have too much sugar in the body, our blood sugar levels peak….for about half an hour. Then the body produces insulin and processes the sugar, causing us to get that slump. So what happens, we eat something else to give us a boost, and sure enough, the same happens again. So we spend the day with our energy resembling a roller coaster ride.

Cut out the rubbish in your diet and eat more protein in the form of nuts, seeds, hummus, fish and meats, eggs and soya. Protein contains no sugar, so it takes the body far longer to extract the energy from the food, giving you a slow release of energy though out the day. Giving you the right foundation to climb the mountain in front of you.

3. Create spare capacity

Just like your email inbox, once it hits the storage limit, it cannot receive or send any more emails. You have to go through that slow and methodical job of seeing what emails you can delete to create some space. The mind is exactly the same. Filling it up with negative thoughts (of which you have around 50,000 every day) and holding onto old memories, conversations, grudges, limiting beliefs and worries, all of which don’t serve you, won’t allow you to think like a super hero.

You will keep getting the same results and coming up against the same obstacles and getting triggered by the same situations and people. Learn to let go and tidy up your mind and upgrade your brain! Even the simple act of taking a little time each day to switch off your mind as best you can, do some focused breathing and get outside can make you more productive because you to give your mind a break. You wouldn’t expect one of your employees to work 24/7 non stop 7 days a week, so don’t expect your mind to do the same. Allow it to recharge so you can come at things from a different mind set.

To really upgrade your mind, then you need to change how your mind operates from a subconscious level, because this is where 95% of your responses are programmed.

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Published on 13 February 2015