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Mindfulness and Impact: 9 Tech Tools to Help Manage Stress at your Nonprofit

Productivity

Managing stress in your work and personal life impacts your ability to contribute to your cause.

Nonprofit workers often balance multiple projects and roles, sometimes with a never-ending queue of tasks. And since we’re driven to impact the communities we serve, we can be pushed to our limits to meet our goals. This often comes with sacrifices to our physical and mental health.

Late nights, working weekends, or even anxiously pushing through workdays may get you ahead in the short-term, but it actually hinders you in the long-term. 

We do our best work when we take care of ourselves, so here are  9 quality apps that will teach you mindfulness, time management, and focus to help ease the pressure of work and address our anxieties.

 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the basis of good work. It keeps you centered, and helps you prioritize your tasks. Practicing mindfulness also helps you achieve peace of mind and get a good night’s sleep at the end of an intense day. These apps teach proper breathing, relaxation, and accessible meditation techniques to help reduce anxiety and manage stress.

Breathe2Relax (iPhone & Android )

Believe it or not, most of us don’t breathe properly. We take shallow, tense breaths that don’t use the full capacity of our lungs and make us more prone to anxiety. This is because shallow, upper-chest breathing is actually part of a typical stress response.

Developed by health professionals, Breathe2Relax uses instructional videos and breathing exercises to teach you to breath into your diaphragm, which helps rid the body of tension and reduce anxiety.

Working through these exercises will help you to remain calm and relaxed in high-pressure situations, whether at work or in your personal life.

 

 

Pacifica

Pacifica provides deep-breathing and muscle-relaxation exercises, and daily anti-anxiety experiments based on cognitive-behavourial therapy.

Features like a mood tracker allow you to record your thoughts to better understand your thinking patterns and possible anxiety triggers.

Putting time towards addressing your anxiety is important, and this app guides you through the process.

  

 

1 Giant Mind

Meditation is one of best ways to relax and be present in the moment.

1 Giant Mind’s meditation technique is great for beginners. Its philosophy is that there is no such thing as a bad meditation. Allowing your mind to wander, feeling negative or positive emotions, feeling tension or nausea; these are all part of the experience, and are ok as long as you catch yourself and come back to your mantra.

It’s a great introduction into meditation and can make a huge impact on your ability to be in the present moment - and nowhere else.

 

 

 

Time Management

Working towards your cause means making the most out of your time. Rushing and putting in long hours is not the answer; work smarter, not harder! These apps help you organize your time, so you can get your tasks done without over-extending yourself.

TopTal Tracker 

Understanding how you spend your time helps you prioritize. Do you give certain tasks more time than they deserve, or not enough?

TopTal’s Tracker app makes it simple to track your work; you record your tasks related to any number of projects, and create reports to visualize how you’ve spent your time, making it easy to spot where changes need to be made to your routine.

Time Out

When you don’t listen to your body and take breaks when you need them, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Yet, we often get caught up in hours of computer work.

Time Out is a simple app that nudges you to take breaks by setting gentle reminders. It encourages 10-minute breaks every hour, and 15-second breaks every 15 minutes, but you can customize your breaks as you see fit.

Concentrate (Mac only)

It can be hard getting started on tasks, and Concentrate makes those transitions as painless as possible.

It lets you save sets of websites and applications, so you can easily open everything you need to work on a specific task.

For example, if one of your roles is operating social media, you can have Concentrate open Facebook, Twitter and Buffer all at once. This makes switching between your various tasks simple and speedy.

Note: Concentrate isn’t compatible with Mac OS 10.10 or later.

 

Focus

Achieving focus when you work is crucial. An hour of focused time is more productive than many hours of undisciplined work full of distractions and daydreams.

Making the most of your time is key for improving your impact and achieving your goals, and protecting time to relax and recharge.

FocusWriter

Most nonprofit roles require writing in some form. Writing can be a grueling process, which makes it hard to get started and stay focused.

FocusWriter helps you zone into your writing by providing a clean, simple interface that rids your screen of distractions.

Even seeing a tab open or a notification pop up is enough to get off track. FocusWriter is a simple tool to keep you on task.

SelfControl (Mac only)

Sometimes you just can’t focus on your work. Maybe you’re exhausted, or distracted by something significant in your life and can’t seem to bite the bullet.

SelfControl is the extreme solution. You can create a blacklist of distracting sites like Facebook, and set a timer during which you cannot access those sites. And you cannot override SelfControl other than allowing the timer to run down!

With SelfControl, when you do get distracted, you won’t have anywhere to ‘escape’ and are forced to either sit there or get back to work. Those distracted moments become an opportunity for reflection, rather than just mindlessly surfing social media.

Try Cold Turkey for Windows, or the StayFocused Chrome extension.

Relax Melodies: Sleep Sounds (iPhone & Android )

Distractions can be auditory too; a ringtone going off, a colleague coming over to talk, a notification on your phone. And though music helps, sometimes you’re just not in the mood to listen to music while you work.

Relax Melodies is a great alternative. It provides soothing soundscapes to keep you focused and relaxed while you work. Play this in the background while you work on “heads-down” projects (e.g., intense data analysis, compiling an impact report, writing a grant proposal), and you may be surprised by how productive you are when you aren’t distracted by office surroundings.  

For in-browser use, try A Soft Murmur instead.

 

 

We hope these simple and useful apps help you to relax, address your anxieties and focus better in your work so you can make the most of your time while striking a healthy work-life balance.