Low activity at work? Some tips to refocus

Cat resting with eyes half closed - image for Stuck in low activity phase at work - meditation exercise

This is day two at my new workplace and I am stuck in a low activity phase. People around me are busy on their computer, in meetings, talking with colleagues or on calls. Business as usual going on around me but as I am new I am not fully part of it yet.  This is my first full week on my assignment with Alola Foundation. I know it will be a rewarding one but there is only so much reading I can do so I am stuck on where to focus my effort.  So I also meditate at work with a simple 5 step exercise.

I remind myself “Carina, make good use of this time as it will soon change”

Fast, slow and in between pace

We all know that life ebbs and flows fast, slow and all speeds in between.  When I acknowledge that speed, I am present which is a positive way to be.  If I complain or wish it would be different, I lose the opportunity to enjoy the time I do have.  Available time allows me to fill it, so that is what I do.

I fill my low-activity times with thinking, planning, reviewing, research and maybe something I have not done before.  I believe that everything learned and experienced will be useful later, so I never feel that I waste time.  One of the things I do today is actively listen to my colleagues speaking Tetun as I am keen to pick up words to add to my vocabulary. I also start topic lists and explore areas I would like to be more involved in.

Down-time also gives me the opportunity to respond fast when needed. Like just now when I had to write a draft news release in response to an unexpected development.

Every workplace is different so there is no one-method that suits all. Here are some of the ways I turn my downtime into a productive time.

Physical activity

I regularly get up from my desk and go for walks. My office building is in a compound on a busy street so I stroll around the building, observe the garden, walk through the shop adjacent to my office, sit outside with a cup of tea or I pretend to be on the phone so people give me space.   

Do something to distract

Another method to stay productive is to do something to distract me.  I clear up my desk or re-arrange my files for example. It is always a pleasure to look at an organised workspace. In the shop I re-merchandise, straighten racks, marvel at the designs, patterns and textures of the products.  If you practice looking at everything as if for the first time, you will always discover new things.  Like watching a movie for the 3rd time, you always discover something you missed the first two times.  I find that this also works with people, so in my mind I start every encounter as a new one, and with a positive approach.


I must admit that I sometimes also daydream at work.  This is normal as I am not a robot.  If you allow some wandering of the brain it will open and receive answers to questions you are not actively focusing on.

Talk to someone

Sometimes I need another person to distract me, so I have a short chat with a colleague. Long chats at work to fill downtime are not appropriate and you run the risk of causing someone else to be non-productive. The purpose of chats at work is to achieve a productive mindset, not a distracted one.    

Short meditation

When I am stuck at my desk during low activity times, I use this simple 5-minute meditation exercise:

I take my shoes off and put both feet flat on the ground, back straight and arms on my desk or in my lap.  

I close my eyes and take 3 slow deep breaths, expanding my diaphragm breathing in and pulling my belly button in when breathing out.  My shoulders do not rise and fall, and I slow my breathing down to a regular rhythm.

Then I visualize myself somewhere else, a place that I enjoy, like on a beach with a warm breeze and the sound of the waves, or on a picnic blanket in the woods with birds and the rustle of leaves.

Next, I smile. Even if it feels unnatural at first, I recommend you persevere.  Stay on the beach in your mind, or in the forest, watch birds fly over, stand at the bow of a boat with the wind in your hair, or on the peak of a mountain with a beautiful view.  

My final step is to think of one word and keep repeating it in my mind for a minute or so.  A positive word, a resolve, a word that reflects a goal, a wish word, a good feeling word.  I pause for a few breaths and then repeat for another minute.  If my mind wanders during the pause I bring it back gently and repeat.  

Tip: This meditation exercise is also perfect for walking

Positive effect of meditation at work

I am always amazed by the effects of this quick exercise.  The breathing relaxes me, the dreaming lifts me and the word gives me focus.

Here are some more tips on meditation and how it benefits work  

The great thing about meditation is that it works on the body and mind. I always remind myself of the benefits every time I meditate and wonder at the effect.

Carina – March 2020
Low activity at work? Some tips to refocus

One thought on “Low activity at work? Some tips to refocus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top