REFLECTION: I spent a couple of days last week on the farm where I grew up giving my folks a hand with a household reno project. The stairs from the kitchen to the basement were a bit worse for wear and in need of a spruce up.
The work flow went like this:
* Pry off the old tiles and linoleum
* Scrape, sand and scrub away the glue and backing
* Apply two coats of paint to the stringers and steps
* Trim and install a new set of vinyl treads
* Stand back and admire the work
Of course, no project ever goes smoothly, and this one wasn’t that straightforward; but still, this was a great experience for a number of reasons. First of all, the folks appreciated the help, so it felt good to be lending a hand. Secondly, being at the farm took me far away from my own April to-do lists, email, phones, etc and placed me squarely in the world of family, fresh air and country walks.
But, in retrospect, what made it such a great experience was that WE FOCUSED ON JUST ONE THING; and, we resisted cramming the spaces in between with more, more, more.
After the stairs were stripped and scrubbed, they needed to dry before we could paint. What to do in the interim? Naps all round!
The paint needs time to dry between coats. What to do in the interim? Nab a cool one and a chat.
Backs got sore standing and stooping while goo-ing and gluing. What to do? Take a break with a mug of tea, prop up the feet, and watch a wave of robins worming their way across the farmyard.
And when the project was done, we cleaned up and headed to town for a celebratory lunch. We did not leap directly into the next thing on the proverbial list.
ACTION: Now, I know one of the supposed marks of efficiency is shifting between projects, using every bit of spare and waiting time to accomplish more and more, jamming the spaces with one task after another. And, from time to time, life calls us to handle things just that way.
But, there is another option – an approach that partners that feeling of accomplishment with a sense of ease and grace.
Give it a try with one of your spring projects at work or at home. See what kind of difference it makes to your success and satisfaction to focus on just one thing while savoring the spaces in between.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “There’s no ease and there’s no grace when there’s no rhythm to the pace.” – Yours Truly
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: You might enjoy this article on working simpler and saner: http://zenhabits.net/2007/02/how-not-to-multitask-work-simpler-and/
READERS WRITE: In response to last week’s message on Paying Attention, Pause reader DO writes: “I agree with this totally and see it in myself and others we work with. If we pay attention, as you promote in your article, we create great peace, joy, and happiness in our lives. If we are not paying attention to our bodies, spirits, and minds (if we don’t pause), we eventually pay in pain – body aches & pains, dis-eases, loss of relationships, etc.”