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 – 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 – 18.09 – Did You Know You’re Retroactively Useful?
September 5, 2018
Reflection: I seem to be encountering a lot of people from my past these days. In the course of our conversations, more than a few of them are sharing how something I said or did influenced them years ago and continues to be meaningful in their lives today.
Sometimes it was the way I handled a challenging situation. Other times it was a piece of advice or a way of looking at or thinking about things that was important at that moment. Often those insightful tidbits have become reference points or touchstones for them as they go about their lives today.
It moves me to hear that my contributions, both intended and unintentional, added meaning to their lives. That prompts me to be even more active in extending my appreciation to others whose examples have been important to me. And…it causes me to feel more satisfied about the contributions I’ve already made in my life and work.
Action: The desire to be purposeful and of service to others does not diminish with age. In fact as people grow older, they often start to think more directly about leaving a lasting and positive legacy.
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.
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…)