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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 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…)

PAUSE – 15.34 – Ditch the Digital Dipsy-Doodling

November 11, 2015

Time Sink-wReflection:  When I deliver sessions on overload and overwhelm at work and in life, these are questions that often arise. Maybe you’ve asked them yourself!

  • Why can’t I focus in the midst of distractions?
  • Why do I keep interrupting myself, even when I’m on a roll?
  • Why do I feel exhausted at the end of my day?

The answers vary. But there is one modern habit that definitely contributes to these experiences – our 3D habit of Digital-Dipsy-Doodling. (I love that phrase – and wish I could take credit for it, but I can’t. See resources of the week for the origin and two articles that say more about this experience.)

You may well be familiar with 3D behavior, yourself. It’s the practice of jumping around between email, twitter, facebook, instagram, and the many other diversions of the web at large.

Why do we do it? It could be FOMO – fear of missing out. Or, it could be (as neuroscience suggests) that fresh doses of info send zingers of dopamine to the brain. Dopamine feels good. And, so, we Dipsy-Doodle – again and again – moving ever further away from what we had initially set out to accomplish.

While we are busy jumping around like grasshoppers on Red Bull, we may not even be aware that all this switching takes energy. The more we leapfrog, the less we accomplish, and the more exhausted we feel.

Doped up and depleted was probably not how any of us envisioned our days unfolding. Welcome to the downward spiral of digital distraction!

 

Action: So what’s a busy body to do? (more…)

PAUSE – 15.29 – Give Thanks And Get Relief

October 7, 2015

Gratitude Rocks Poster-w

 

My Thoughts:

A recent weekend was chuck full of responsibilities, errands, duties, tasks, tidying, scrubbing, chores, jobs and more jobs. You name it, we did it! With a full life of your own, I’m sure you know what I mean.

It would have been easy to spend those hours in a state of irritation. I’ve done that in the past.

However, this time around, I decided to switch it up. I held this idea in mind instead: I’m grateful that I have a home to clean, a garden to maintain, and the strength to do both.

Same number of hours – totally different experience! (more…)

PAUSE – 15.22 – What If? Life Lessons From The Road

August 19, 2015

Nyhavn-w

 

Reflection: After a vacation, I like to take a bit of time to reflect on the experience.

There’s an element of savoring involved – remembering people and places, incidents and moments.

And, for me, any kind of noticing usually triggers lessons as well.

As I thought about this summer’s travel experiences, it occurred to me that there are some lessons that might be applied to everyday life.

I’m sharing them here in the hope they might be helpful for you, too.

 

 

Action: When I’m traveling, it seems so much easier to dress for the day. Choices are limited to what fits in one suitcase. What if we simplified those decisions everyday by streamlining our wardrobes at home?

The touring days that are most satisfying are those where we narrow the focus to one or two places or experiences rather than trying to jam too much into a short period of time. What if we narrowed our everyday focus to a couple of high priority items and stopped trying to do it all at once?

Some of the most ease-filled moments on vacation occur when we give ourselves time and space to put up our feet and take a break. Whether it’s catching a nap, dipping into a book, or jotting a few notes in the travel journal, there’s something to be said for retreating and regrouping. What if we made a regular habit of stepping away from the press of everyday activity to refresh our energy and reflect on our experience? (more…)

PAUSE – 14.35 – Always On Guard? Often Off Balance!

November 19, 2014

RelaxReflection: When I speak and write about granting our selves and each other permission to pause, many people grasp the idea in quick order. They can see that there’s a strong case for renewal and re-energizing in the face of overwhelming demands. It makes sense on an intellectual level.

But, that message doesn’t always make it from the brain to the gut – where so many of our decisions and choices are actually made. As a result, the idea literally does not sit well with us.

Now, as you know, it is possible to force yourself to sit down for a moment to catch your breath and take a break. But how often does that rest take the form of a tentative perch on the edge of your seat, burdens still at hand, muscles tensed to lift off again at a moment’s notice, brain on high alert?

That’s not much of a break especially when compared to option B. You drop into a chair and drop into the moment. You let your body be surrounded and supported, relax your muscles, set your burdens aside, and tell your brain to take a hike.

It’s the same 30-60-90 seconds, but it’s a significantly difference experience.

 

Action: The next time you sense you need to step back for a few moments, pay close attention to your approach. (more…)

PAUSE – 14.22 – What’s Truly Essential In Your World?

June 4, 2014

Essential-wReflection: For some time, I’ve been following Greg McKoewn’s blog posts on the concept of Essentialism. So I was delighted when he released his book, ‘Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less’.

It’s a provocative read. Amongst the ideas I found of greatest interest are these:

  • Shifting to an essentialist viewpoint means we need to discard these three assumptions: I have to. It’s all important. I can do both. Instead we need to adopt these three assumptions: I choose to. Only a few things really matter. I can do anything but not everything.
  • The word ‘priority’ used to mean just one thing. In the last century we pluralized it to ‘priorities’. This caused us to believe we could actually hold a number of things at the top of our list and in our attention at the very same time.
  • We’re fooling ourselves if we think we don’t have to make a solid choice between competing activities. Choosing ‘both’ is a recipe for spreading ourselves too thin. We need to make trade-offs. The shift in mindset is thinking not so much about what we must give up, but rather, what do we choose to go big on.
  • Don’t be afraid to pull the plug on a project or commitment you’re already involved in. Think about it from a square one point of view. If you weren’t already involved, what would you give up or how hard would you work to get involved. Just because you are part of an active initiative doesn’t mean it’s still the right thing for you to be doing. Edit away.
  • You’ve got to know, as a pause fanatic, that I would appreciate this one. Protect the asset – that means you! Create space for renewal and reflection – time for unencumbered thought, innovation and growth. Escape and explore life.

 

Action: So, how do we actually put these ideas into action? (more…)

PAUSE – 14.08 – In Praise of Puttering

February 26, 2014

Hands Free!

Hands Free!

Reflection: When preparing to deliver a conference presentation or seminar for a group, I’ll often interview a sampling of attendees ahead of time to find out more about their workplace stresses and satisfactions.

In a recent series of interviews for an upcoming conference, I asked about successful strategies for coping with high demand, stressful times. I heard a predictable assortment of suggestions: adopting time savers, planning ahead, taking time out, celebrating successes and having some fun.

However, one unusual response stood out. This particular fellow described his stress reduction strategy as ‘puttering’. He explained that when life and work grow demanding, he narrows his attention and focuses only on the high priority items.

But, after several weeks of that high level focus, he finds he has sidelined a whole pile of lesser tasks. These smaller, less important bits and pieces build up to create a pressure all their own.

At that point, he devotes a day to puttering. No major projects and no big decisions are allowed. Instead, he putters around clearing away the small stuff.

He calls A, repairs B, stores C, answers D, files E, replaces F, cleans up G, and so it goes.

As he moves from one small task to another with ease and a meandering spirit, he fuels a sense of accomplishment and feels a sense of relief. (more…)

PAUSE – 13.31 – Al Desko or Al Fresko?

November 13, 2013

eat at desk-wReflection: If you’re reading this on Wednesday morning, you still have time to make a date for lunch. Why do I mention it? Because it turns out that an astounding number of folks are eating Al Desko and not Al Fresko.

A recent poll found that 60 percent of workers eat lunch at their desks every day, while two thirds take less than half their entitled lunch hour. A quick math check shows those people are working (or at least sitting in front of their computers) an extra 128 hours (or 16 eight hour days) a year.

We’re discovering more all the time about the physical risks of too much sitting and too much desk time. When we closet ourselves away – brain glued to screen and bum to chair – we end up numbed on both ends.

Move around mid-day and you clear out the mental cobwebs and top the energy tank. You’ll return to your afternoon tasks with a fresh mind and body.

What’s keeping us glued to our chairs? (more…)

PAUSE – 13.30 – Recurring Life Lessons

November 6, 2013

Lessons-wReflection: Are there any life lessons you seem destined to learn over and over and over again? I know there are a handful that are very much alive in my world. I’m reliving one of them this week.

As I prepare for the December release of my new ‘Sketches of Saskatoon’ book, I find myself mired down in detailed marketing tasks, many of which I could have handled differently.

Had I been thinking and working a bit further ahead, I could have farmed out various tasks to others who have the experience, the resources, and the talent to handle them with ease. Alas, in the crunch and press of time, the opportunity is lost.

Maybe this happens in your world, too. You leave a project just a tad too long on the back burner. All of a sudden (or so it seems) it pops to the top of the list and you find yourself cradling a bona fide DIY (Do It Yourself) hot potato in your hands. (more…)