Reflection: I recently tried to wedge another folder into an overflowing filing cabinet and realized I had once again hit that point that calls for action. I took the time to cull completed projects from the office file drawers, and once again there was plenty of room for current and future projects.
I’ve had this kind of experience before. Maybe you have, too.
A calendar that was once manageable is now so crowded with new project commitments that the everyday essentials are squeezed for attention. Time to sift and shift.
The fridge and freezer are plenty big enough until they’re all stocked up for an extended family gathering. In the days that follow the event, it’s challenging to find anything in the midst of everything. Time to sift and shift.
The front hall closet works just fine until you to stuff the parkas and extra winter gear (mitts, hats, scarves, boots) along side the warm weather collection of light jackets and sandals. Time to sift and shift.
The trunk of the car has plenty of room until you try to haul the spring purchases for the garden in a space that’s still loaded with winter survival gear, snow scrapers and shovels. Time to sift and shift.
What’s common to all these situations is that we don’t need a bigger container – whether that be a file cabinet, calendar, refrigerator, house or vehicle. We just need to think and act differently. (more…)
PAUSE – 19.11 – Bringing Who You Are To What You Do
November 6, 2019
Reflection: About a year ago, I joined a local artists group. We meet weekly to make art. We challenge and support each other. And, we show together annually.
Over the years, I’ve been a part of many groups at work and in the community. Rarely have I seen a group as cooperative and supportive as this one.
When a task arises, there’s no sitting on hands, avoiding eye contact, hoping someone else will take it on. There is an eagerness to volunteer – to step forward to make things happen.
Yes, there is a high degree of commitment to each other and the purpose of the group. But, underpinning all there’s a desire and willingness to bring who we are and contribute what we can in the service of the whole.
We vary in our interests and skills. Within the group we have: social media whizzes, creative photographers, skilled organizers, those with financial savvy, talented foodies, fine writers, imaginative thinkers, thoughtful listeners, and jokesters who brighten the mood and lighten the load.
Everybody is not expected to do everything. People step forward in areas in which they are skilled and have an interest; they pass on others. And, somehow it all works out.
Action: How well are the teams and groups in your world functioning? (more…)
PAUSE – 19.09 – Take A Power Nap For A Power Boost
September 4, 2019
Reflection: As a youngster, I spent more than a few summer days at my Grandfather’s farm. Each day after his noon lunch, Grandpa grabbed a scratchy red wool plaid blanket, and headed out behind the house.
There, in the caragana windbreak, he stretched out for a nap on a set of rusty old bedsprings he had strategically placed in the shade. Jack, as he was called by his friends, was definitely a man ahead of his time.
Research from Harvard (which I’m sure Grandpa never read) has proven what he knew from experience – that a mid day nap increases productivity and gifts you with the mental freshness of morning all over again.
As a student in elementary school, when we returned to our desks following the noon hour break, our teachers would read us a chapter or two from an ongoing novel.
We were encouraged to rest our heads on our desks to listen, and nobody cared whether you tuned in to the story or caught forty winks. I often thought that the teachers would have enjoyed putting their heads down on the desk and having someone read to them!
We’re learning more all the time about the impact of naps. (more…)
PAUSE – 19.05 – Banish Cranky to The Hills
May 1, 2019
Reflection: It wasn’t an unusual week, but I do remember it well. By the time Friday rolled around, I was good and cranky.
It hadn’t even been an especially demanding week. Just an event or three here – a project or four there – an errand or five elsewhere – and so it went. Not unlike a host of other weeks.
But I was tired and out of sorts all the same. Snappy – short tempered – restless! I recognize the signs more easily at this stage in my life.
The situation called for measures – not even drastic ones. I knew I needed time for me.
And so, I cleared the decks for Saturday. No commitments. No errands. No leaving the house to tend to anything for anyone.
What DID I do? I indulged in a series of simple, small and seemingly insignificant treats: (more…)
PAUSE – 18.10 – T Times Three Can Serve You Well
October 3, 2018
Reflection: I mentioned this study a few years ago; and I’m going to share it again, because I believe it’s so significant.
The Energy Project stated in Harvard Business Review that employees who break every 90 minutes to pulse between work and renewal report: 28% better focus, 30% greater health and well being, and a 40% increase in thinking creatively.
I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that any practice that improves focus, creativity, health and wellbeing is good for us all. Yet there continue to be challenges in giving our selves permission to step away from the load. Those ubiquitous forces of guilt and fear prompt us to keep our noses to the grindstone – where we repeatedly crash and burn or live in a continuous state of blur and endure.
Even for those who are convinced of the value of pausing, it’s easy to get swept up in the work of the day and to forget that we had intended to take time for renewal.
Action: So, in support of those good intentions, here are three ways to move those intentions to action more often. (more…)
PAUSE – 18.07 – The Helpful Art of Pitching In
July 4, 2018
Reflection: I was scheduled as the after luncheon speaker, and things were running late. The servers were delayed in getting the last few items on the tables, while conference attendees milled about the hallway waiting for the ‘all clear’ cue to seat themselves. The clock was ticking; and time was a wasting.
I stepped forward and offered to place the last of the water pitchers and coffee urns on the tables while the servers took care of getting the salads in place. Serving staff were surprised, and so was the conference coordinator. ‘You don’t need to do that,’ was the comment directed my way.
They were right. I didn’t need to do that. Nowhere in a speaker’s job description does it read, ‘Put the water pitchers on the tables for lunch.’ But there was a need at hand and an opportunity to help. And since I could pitch in, I did.
A friend recently went through a very rough patch in her life. Her husband (who is also her business partner) experienced some serious health issues during their busiest season of the year. Another friend, whose schedule was open at the time, volunteered to come in and serve as their ‘gopher’ at the office.
She handled reception, mail, banking, chauffeur service, courier duty and more. If it would help ease the load, and she could do it, she took it on. What a practical way to let someone else know how much they matter! (more…)
PAUSE – 18.05 – Building Resilience: Down But Not Out
May 2, 2018
Reflection: There isn’t a person alive who hasn’t stumbled somewhere along life’s path, been disappointed by something that did or didn’t happen, been let down by others they thought they could count on, or been blindsided by bad news.
Here, in Saskatchewan in April, it seems like the entire province was impacted by news of the death of sixteen members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team in a horrendous bus accident that no one saw coming. And, later in the month, the horrendous news of a van-pedestrian mow-down on the streets of Toronto
In the days following these incidents, there is a heaviness to the air and a weight to our conversations. There is sadness and anger, and also the chilling realization that these things could happen to any one of us, on any given day, in any location.
So, how do we get through the tough times that follow such occurrences, and find ways to come back from experiences that literally take your breath away?
Action: Here are a handful of ideas for cultivating resilience. Keep these in your back pocket for the next tough time that comes your way. (more…)
PAUSE – 18.04 – Shift Your Gears To Match The Flow
April 4, 2018
Reflection: It would be a fine thing indeed if the flow of our work was more evenly paced – with a perfect match between demands and time/energy available. Sadly, in today’s world, the size of the load tends to be much greater than the resources at hand – often with no end or relief in sight.
Still, in some worlds there are periods of high and low demand. For instance, in the face of looming tax deadlines, accountants know that February and March will be Crazy Time. The rest of the year, perhaps not so much!
When I facilitated a recent Boosting Energy program, one of the participants asked for some ideas to handle an uneven workflow that seesaws between too heavy and too light. If that is sometimes an issue in your world, too, here are a few suggestions for shifting gears. (more…)
PAUSE – 18.02 – Take Care Of You & Be Better For Others
February 7, 2018
Reflection: We’re three weeks into a kitchen renovation, so our home is a tad chaotic these days.
A veritable parade of tradespeople has been rolling through the house: demolition folks, electricians, plumbers, drywallers, carpenters, installers and those keeping track of what others are doing and how it’s going.
It’s been a lively, dusty, noisy experience. Happily, the reno is moving right along – even a bit ahead of schedule.
The fact that my office is in our home makes it doubly challenging for me. At the height of the hubbub, I took client phone calls hunkered deep in the closet of the master bedroom with two sets of doors between me and the noise.
Normally, my practice is to start my days with a walk along the river, a bit of yoga, an inspirational reading, or writing in my journal. Since the reno began, I’ve given that up so that I can be showered, dressed, and ready to answer the door when the first worker of the day comes knocking at 8 am.
I’ve recently noticed that I’m feeling a bit impatient, short tempered, even prone to feeling sorry for myself. That’s not my normal state. (more…)
PAUSE – 18.01 – How Do You And Your Calendar Get Along?
January 10, 2018
Reflection: My relationship with calendars has changed over time; and it’s more than just a shift from paper to digital. Maybe the way YOU relate to your calendar is changing, too.
In my childhood, the calendar was my parents’ domain. In those days, businesses gifted customers with calendars in December, in hopes that theirs would be the one that hung in your kitchen all year round. Mom and Dad recorded meetings and special events, but the calendar also served as a record of life on the farm with notes about temperatures, rainfall, start and end dates for seeding, haying, and harvest.
As a teenager – in high school and then university – my own calendar was all about class schedules and exams, extracurricular activities, and part time work.
When I became a working parent, our family calendar served as control central keeping us on track and alerting us to potential conflicts between our travel schedules and children’s’ activities.
In the early days of my business, I looked at the calendar as an indicator of success. If it was filled with workshops and speaking engagements, that signaled more money in the bank. Too much white space left me anxious and triggered a flurry of promotion, marketing, and program development. (more…)