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…)
PAUSE – 17.15 – Another Way To Look At Things
November 8, 2017
Reflection: My husband and I were lucky enough to be able to get away this fall for a European travel adventure. On our return, I found myself feeling a little behind and a wee bit stressed. Adrenalin pumping – cortisol rising. I was thinking about all the business related tasks that were put on hold. I was worried about projects not begun; and so, obviously, not advanced.
Maybe this happens to you, too. You compare yourself or your situation to the performance of others or to your own high expectations. You find yourself fretting about falling behind and getting ahead. “I should be there by now, and instead I’m here!”
At times like this, I’ve learned to call on my wiser, smarter self for advice. You’ve got one of those mentors, too. Your voice of reason and perspective – the part of you that takes a long view on life and refuses to get bent out of shape unnecessarily.
PAUSE – 17.14 – What Motivator Might Bring You More Of What You Want?
October 25, 2017
Reflection: The young CEO of a manufacturing company had a reputation for keeping long hours and working endless weekends, until…a brand new baby entered his world.
In short order, he found creative ways to get most of his work done during regular business hours and to claim his evenings and weekends for family.
A long time public servant found herself at her desk late into the evenings, struggling to find time for exercise and companionship, until…she brought an energetic young puppy into her home.
Now she had a compelling reason to leave work at 5:00. If she didn’t, she’d arrive home to unhappy accidents and a house in shambles. Most key tasks at work were accomplished during regular work hours. Turns out it had been her need to feel completely caught up at the end of every day that had kept her chained to her desk.
For years, a career homemaker spent all her time tidying, cleaning, cooking, and managing family affairs, until…she connected to a volunteer cause she cared deeply about.
She cut back to a lesser standard of home care and freed time and energy to devote to her new-found passion. (more…)
PAUSE – 17.13 – Are You Harvesting Your Life?
September 13, 2017
Reflection: When I was growing up on the farm, harvest was one of my favorite times of the year.
I loved the fields of golden wheat dancing in the September breeze, the heavy swaths tracing the contours of the land, and the cascades of grain pouring from the auger into the grain bin.
In the farmhouse kitchen, boxes of B.C. pears, plums and peaches were being canned and set aside for the winter ahead.
Steaming cobs of sweet corn landed on the table to be enjoyed day after day after day. My personal best (or worst) was 13 cobs at one sitting!
Harvest time was a feast for the senses and the soul. And the practice of harvesting is one I’ve carried with me into my everyday life.
When I finish reading a book, I take a few moments to pull out an insight or two to carry with me.
When we travel, I keep a journal. As we turn toward home, I reread the record of the journey, and sum up the highlights.
After attending a conference, I scan my notes and pull out a few key ideas on which to act.
Action: The habit of harvest is a helpful one. (more…)
PAUSE GEM #53 – Pause Every Ninety & Art Cda 150.10
August 30, 2017
Editor’s Note: As they have for the last couple of years, your summer Pause messages will feature the ‘Best of Pause. These GEMS are readers’ favorite messages from earlier years. Whether you are a long time subscriber, or new to our list, I hope you enjoy them all. After Labor Day, your Pause messages will once again feature all new info and resources.
P.S.– Also, be sure to scan right to the end of this message. You’ll want to be sure to catch the details on my Canada 150 Summer Art Project and the unique Provinces of Canada paintings on offer each week. This week – Saskatchewan.
REFLECTION & ACTION: You’re working away – head down – afterburners aflame. You’ve been making great progress and, blessedly, the interruptions have been few. Still, after an hour and a half or so, you start feeling restless. Your attention begins to wander. And, you find yourself becoming a touch irritable and impatient.
Why are you having trouble with focus when the stars are aligned for work? It could be your internal body rhythms clamoring for your attention.
The human body isn’t built for nonstop high performance. We do a better job of maintaining energy over the long haul when periods of focused concentration are offset by time out for renewal.
There are parallels in other life situations. For example, a race car driver’s success depends on fast, high speed performance on the track. But an equally important part of that racer’s success is knowing when to pull off the track and into the pit for adjustments and repairs. Ignore, postpone or cancel the pit stops, and the race is lost.
Top performers in all kinds of fields tend to work in approximately 90 minute cycles – sprints if you will. They shift back and forth between periods of intense effort offset by periods of purposeful renewal.
A key word here is purposeful. The impact of automatically grabbing a caffeine or sugar hit, or giving yourself a ‘rev it up’ pep talk to drive your energy back up the ergometer, will be short lived. Many of these ‘short term quick fix’ energizers fizzle fast and end up harmful in the long term.
Plan for variety and be more intentional in choosing your renewing pauses. (more…)