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. For instance, if you’re focused on developing a project plan or writing a report, you’ll be expending a lot of mental energy. During your break, you might engage in a contrasting way – move your body (walk or stretch) or connect socially with others (share a chat or a joke).
The length of a pause is not as critical as the regularity. Make sure you DO step away from the work, and that you choose the best recharging option for your needs and your situation.
With the fast pace and high expectations of today’s workplace, many people abandon the practice of taking breaks. If that’s the case for you and your colleagues, share these ideas with them, and build support for each other. Talk about the kinds of renewing breaks you can try solo or with others that might make sense in your world.
Set an alarm or reminder to interrupt you at 90 minute intervals – or at the very least mid morning and mid afternoon. It’s easy to get caught up in the press and flow of the work, so help each other to step away before exhaustion and inefficiency set in.
With regular bits of time away, you’ll return to the work at hand with fresh energy and be able to maintain a higher level of focus and concentration for the long haul.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: The higher the demand, the greater and more frequent the need for renewal. – Tony Schwartz
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: For more on the impact on productivity of time out for renewal check out The Productivity Myth by Tony Schwartz in the Harvard Business Review Blog.
CANADA 150 SUMMER ART PROJECT: In honor of our country’s 2017 anniversary celebrations, I’m delighted to introduce my very own Canada 150 Art Project. I’ve created one painting to honor each province – all ten of which I’ve had the joy of visiting over the years.
One unique provincial landscape, seascape or streetscape will be featured here at the end of the each of the summer GEMS messages. Ten paintings are up for grabs – one for each province – and one each week. And this is the last one in the series.
This week’s offering features Saskatchewan. Read on for what you need to know to make this painting yours.
Each painting is 8” x 10” in size and although it’s not shown here, each one will arrive mounted in a double white mat bringing the outer dimensions to 11” x 14” – ready to pop into a standard frame of your own choosing.
The price for each painting will be $150 (taxes included) plus $15 for shipping to anywhere in Canada.
Each painting will arrive with a written commentary on a few of my memories of that particular province.
If you are looking for a unique remembrance of Canada 150, and you’ve always wanted to buy an original watercolor from the Pauseworks Studio, here’s your chance.
Just send me an email message with the words ‘Canada 150 – I’ll Take It’ in the subject line. The first reader to call dibs on each week’s masterpiece takes it. Good luck and Happy Canada 150.
Tags: burnout, Canada 150, country road, focus, overload, overwhelm, Pat Katz, Patricia Katz, pause, productivity, Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, speaker, stress, time, time out, watercolor, wellness, workload