Give your brain a break

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Get off the productivity wheel, filter out the noise, and find your flow to focus on what you love

After two hard years, we have made it our mission to have more rested bodies and minds, as it is clear from the pandemic that “productivity anxiety” is overwhelming us. The blurring of our personal and professional lives has led many of us to feel out of balance and drained due to feeling – or expecting to be – “always on”.

Our brain needs a break. Getting off the productivity wheel and getting some mental rest is vital for our exhausted brains (and bodies), because the pressure of always being with family, friends and colleagues can feel like an impossible task.

For this reason, Microsoft has partnered with Stylist Restivala wellness event focused on achieving more body and mind rested. Stylist’s, Susan Riley, chatted with Gillian Binks – frontman of Microsoft’s productivity anxiety study – and therapist, author and social media creator, Joshua Fletcher (also known as @anxietyjosh), which specializes in conditions associated with anxiety, to discover how we can best manage our digital health in our new hybrid world.

To help you find a new balance that’s right for you, Microsoft offers a suite of tools to optimize your time and to-do list.

Filter out the noise, find your flow and focus on what matters in every moment.

It is essential to give each person the means to improve their rhythm of life at work. Individuals cannot realize their potential or recognize their success if they constantly blame themselves for not being “enough”. We really need to start a conversation about burnout, what it is and how we help people navigate it, and Microsoft technology can play an important role here.

– Gillian Binks, Head of Marketing Strategy and Planning, Microsoft UK

Find your work-life flow

© Bronac McNeill

Finding the right balance between the ever-increasing demands of home and life can seem like an impossible task.

Our research shows that if half of people (50%) use technology to recover from daily stress and be more productive, only 35% use it to reinforce their boundaries. It is not surprising that 60% say they struggle to stay on top of their ever-growing to-do lists.

Learn how to filter out the noise so you can find your flow and focus on what matters most to you, every moment. Our tools help you do that. Tuning aid blocks notifications and sounds related to tasks you are not currently focused on, and Microsoft to do is a cloud-based app to help you manage tasks across all your devices.

Manage your digital health

© Bronac McNeill

Alarmingly, more than 20% don’t know what good digital health frontiers look like. In today’s world, the pressure to be “always on” with our friends, family, and co-workers can leave us feeling beholden to our technology, overwhelmed, and burned out. As a result, we fail to set healthy boundaries and find ourselves in a negative cycle, sometimes giving up on the use of technology altogether.

But digital health is not a digital detox that, like fad diets, may work for a while, but isn’t realistic for creating lasting change. Digital health forces you to tap into your personal digital nutrition – or digital consumption – and improve your relationship with technology, to feel in control and satisfied by it, instead of feeling drained by it.


It’s essential that we find ways to really give our brains a break. Mental rest is being able to give yourself time to rest and relax. It’s about wrapping yourself in an activity that brings joy and really absorbing yourself into it, so that your brain isn’t focused on anything else. Used in the right way, Microsoft technology has many tools that can help us manage our time better, reduce stress, and develop healthier mental habits.

– @AnxietyJosh

Overcome your productivity anxiety

Surface Duo and Surface Headphones devices on a stand
© Bronac McNeill

Productivity anxiety is hitting new highs, with 61% reporting an increase since restrictions were eased. No longer working exclusively from home, many of us struggle to do as much as we would like.

Research shows that 42% of us feel like we can’t stay in control of our tasks, while 40% of us feel guilty for not keeping all of our commitments in their personal and professional lives.

Discover how to achieve a healthier and more lasting relationship with productivity, as well as how technology can help us find more balance in our everyday lives.

Dual-screen technology – like the Surface Duo 2 – proven to reduce cognitive load by making multitasking easier. Studies show that two screens can give you a productivity boost of 42%.

Unleash your creativity

Girl in overalls drawing an eye on a Surface device
© Bronac McNeill

Exploring and unleashing our creativity is proven to improve our mental health.

Despite the hustle and bustle of the past two years, more than 40% say they’ve discovered a new interest, skill, passion or hobby using technology, and 60% say exploring their creative side improves their health and general well-being.

See how Microsoft technology can help you explore and flex your creative muscles in new ways with access to new creative tools, inspirations and resources – from 3D digital painting with the Microsoft Surface Pen to access a creative writing course on Microsoft Teams – together we can bring new ideas to life.


Josh’s nine tips for dealing with productivity anxiety

  1. Name to Tame – identify unhealthy behaviors, habits, and expectations that may be causing your productivity anxiety
  2. Drop the “I should” – figure out what matters most to you, not to others, and use that to shape your goals and routine
  3. Use technology to reduce (cognitive) load – dual-screen devices like the Surface Duo 2 support your working memory, helping to reduce the mental energy needed to get things done and be more efficient
  4. Challenge your negative self-talk – ‘I’m not there yet’, ‘I had the day off’, ‘It wasn’t the best I could do’ rather than ‘I failed’ or ‘I’m a failure’ .
  5. Use technology to create a rock-solid routine – do not disturb, personal and work settings, calendar blocks, useful apps; technology can help you stay on track
  6. Value progress, not perfection – let go of rigid high standards and allow yourself to celebrate growth
  7. Make rest part of your routine – Prioritize yourself on your to-do list
  8. Reserve “perfection” for when it really matters – You cannot apply it to everything. Instead, use it selectively to strive for what you value most.
  9. Be realistic about your limits. Don’t be afraid to say no. Avoid overloading yourself, which can lead to burnout

Meet the experts and learn more

All images are copyright of Bronac McNeill



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