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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 – 18.04 – 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 – 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.

Here’s what mine had to say to me. (more…)

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 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 GEM #52 – The Burden of Bundling & Art 150.9

August 23, 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 – Quebec.

REFLECTION & ACTION: These days, merchandisers are pretty adept at bundling goods and services together in the hopes of extending one purchase into a bigger payday. A telecom will sell you a phone line and then bundle in internet service, cell phone, and unlimited long distance. At our Canadian Tim Horton’s you can purchase chili and a bun with coffee – and for another 14 cents Tim tosses in a donut. Bundle! Bundle! Bundle!

Bundling CAN create good deals. And yet, as much of a bargain as it may be financially, bundling can also bring you more than you need or want, more than you bargained for, or, literally, more than you can chew.

The concept of bundling popped to mind as I recently listened to a colleague fret about a complicated workplace problem. It was clear that by taking one issue and bundling it together with others she was making the situation more difficult and overwhelming than it needed to be. On top of the precipitating problem with Employee A, she had layered an ongoing performance concern about Colleague B, and was already anticipating having to deal with the fallout of the situation on Employees C & D.

Truly, she had legitimate concerns in all three areas; and all would have to be addressed at some point. However, bundling them together in the moment had sent her into a tail spin. It made things much more difficult than they needed to be in dealing with the single precipitating issue. And, the resulting confusion of thoughts caused a crisis of confidence. (more…)

PAUSE GEM #49 – What’s New & Art 150.6

August 2, 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 – Nova Scotia.

REFLECTION & ACTION: What’s new? It’s a common enough greeting and an innocent enough question. Novelties – new information, new opportunities, new ideas – have a place in our lives. They generate energy, engagement and excitement about life’s possibilities.

However, a preoccupation with the latest, up-to-the-nano-second news can keep us from more meaningful, long-term pursuits.

Scientists looking at how we juggle the bombardment of email, phone calls and other inbound info are finding that our ability to focus is undermined by constantly reacting to these info bursts. We have more trouble sifting out irrelevant information, become more fractured in our thinking, and end up less focused on what we know in our clear thinking moments constitute our top priorities.

‘Incoming bits’ provoke an excitement akin to an adrenalin rush – and are just as addictive. As we become more obsessed with pursuing new bits of info, we are then less likely to stay the course – less likely to follow through putting older, more valuable information to work.

This incessant influx of information can work against our long term productivity and well being – and leave us more stressed, to boot. A University of California study found that people interrupted by e-mail reported significantly increased stress compared to those left alone to focus on the task at hand.

So, what’s the take away learning from the latest research? (more…)

PAUSE GEM #48 – Stopping Starting & Art 150.5

July 26, 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 – Ontario.

REFLECTION & ACTION: More than one study has confirmed that backlogs are an everyday fact of life in today’s overcommitted workplaces – not to mention on the home and community fronts. Despite the fact that we have an inordinate number of irons in the fire at any one time, that doesn’t seem to prevent us from adding more.

Personally, I’ve got a tall stack of books waiting for my attention. That hasn’t stopped me from firing off orders to Amazon or Chapters for yet another interesting volume or two.

I’ve got a number of articles partly written, and program ideas partially developed. That doesn’t stop me from grabbing another scrap of paper and scratching out a few thoughts about yet another fresh idea.

Over the years, I’ve registered a number of web domain names that seemed like an inspired idea at the time, and then let them languish for lack of attention.

Anything similar happen to you?

When we talk about streamlining our life and work activities, a fair amount of attention and lip service is paid to what we could stop doing.

Maybe it’s time to ask a different question. (more…)

PAUSE GEM #46 – Burnout And Meltdowns & Art 150.3

July 12, 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 – Newfoundland Labrador.

REFLECTION & ACTION: I’ve been thinking a lot about burnout in recent days. Not because I’m feeling burned out myself, although I have been there more than once in the past. But rather because I’ve been digging back through results of the Overload and Overwhelm survey that I conducted a few years ago.

Over and over again, people mention the downward spiral triggered by too many expectations and too few resources. They describe the hopeless feelings associated with not being able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And, to cap it off, much of what they are doing feels pointless.

Still I’m hopeful. While meltdowns may be common, they’re not necessarily inevitable.

One of the things I have noted over the years, is that burnout is not always related to the number of hours worked. Meltdowns and burnout are just as often connected to feelings of hopelessness and pointlessness. It’s like we’ve lost track of any meaning that might once have been associated with the activities that fill our days. And so while we invest more and more energy we experience fewer and fewer returns on that investment.

And therein lies one of the main challenges: staying connected to the reasons why we’re doing these things in the first place. (more…)