Written by Megan McConnell
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the nature of the workplace has drastically changed. Instead of working among the cubicles, many are now working from the comforts of their home office. But with this change comes various new obstacles and distractions that can inhibit productivity and blur the lines between work and home life. Actively setting an intention and creating a work plan can help you overcome these newfound challenges and avoid potential burnout.
But what is intention setting, and where do you begin?
Define an “intention”
When you hear the word “intention,” you may think of the beginning of a yoga session. Or, you may think about the goals you set for your New Year’s resolutions.
However, according to Dictionary.com, an intention is “an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.” In other words, it is a desired outcome that is used to guide your behaviors and decisions. According to Simple Minded, intentions differ slightly from goals because they are not specific. Instead, they are reflective of general values.
Some examples of intentions include:
- I will make time to care for myself.
- I am going to be mindful of my limitations.
- I will allow myself to create distance when feeling overwhelmed.
Some examples of goals include:
- I am going to spend 30 minutes doing self-care before bed tonight.
- I will go to the grocery store after work, but not take on any additional tasks.
- I am not going to respond to emails after 5 p.m. today.
Intentions are general statements that are reflective of smaller goals we hope to accomplish and values we want to instill in everyday life.
Focus on the present
Oftentimes, articulating intentions can be difficult. After all, it can be hard to identify and express the overarching ideals that are intertwined with our everyday life. If you’re having difficulty when setting an intention, try focusing on the present. Similar to a meditation or yoga session, check in with your body and mind, and ask yourself several questions: What do I need today? How much work am I able to realistically take on? What do I need to be most effective? How much am I able to interact with others?
Listen to what your body tells you. An important part of intention setting is creating boundaries for yourself and acknowledging your limitations.
Develop a statement
After checking in with yourself, develop a positive, first-person statement – preferably with “I will” or “I am” – that is reflective of your current needs and expectations. As mentioned, these are not specific goals, but rather general statements that will guide your behavior and decisions throughout the day.
And remember, although intentions are supposed to be reflective of your overall values, they can also change, depending on what you currently need and want. On Friday, you may have a different intention than you did on Monday, and that’s okay.
Write down your intention
As you jump into the daily grind, it can be easy to lose sight of the intentions you have set. If you find yourself having a hard time keeping your intentions in mind, try writing them down in a journal to help materialize the idea. You can also write them down on a couple of sticky notes and place them around your house or workspace. By seeing physical reminders throughout the day, it is easier to keep your intentions at the forefront of your mind.
Writing your intentions down also makes it easier to check in with yourself and reflect mentally or while journaling.
Why intention setting
Intention setting can help you keep important personal values in mind as you progress through your day. With little separation between your work and personal life, this can be a helpful way to avoid burnout and create boundaries for yourself. Intention setting can also be used outside of work to help facilitate personal growth and change. For example, if you have difficulty committing to healthy habits, intention setting can help by encouraging you to actively think and act upon your values.