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2 posts from September 2009

09/30/2009

Does your workspace energize and focus you?

Next time you're at your desk, open up your attention and be where you are. What does it feel like? What bothers you? What doesn't belong? What do you love? What gives you a lift as soon as you notice it?

It's funny how such a simple thing as asking "am I getting what I need here?" can be so hard to remember to do regularly. The benefits of asking that question of yourself and acting on your answers are huge.

Take five minutes out from everything else, breath deeply, and look around.

Spot one thing that isn't as it should be and change it right now.

Maybe it's a souvenir you no longer love that can be thrown out or donated to charity. Get it out of here.

Maybe it's your computer desktop still showing the default image it came with. Put a picture on there of someplace beautiful that makes you feel alive and awake.

Maybe it's a stack of magazines from two years ago that you should decide you really don't need to read. Toss 'em in the recycling.

Maybe it's an empty stapler that needs to be refilled, for which you've been needing to get a fresh box of staples. Walk over to the supply closet, drop a note to the person who'll restock your desk, or add it to your errands list to remind yourself when next you're out and about.

Maybe it's something big like the complete lack of a view. So add "get a better office" to your projects list and spend a moment brainstorming a few things you can do to get that ball rolling (e.g. prep notes for annual review, rearrange office layout to face more towards windows across the hall, update resume). Whatever your tasks are, add them to your to-do list and make them a priority.

Every day take these few minutes out to tune in and give your world a little twist toward the best day you can imagine. It all adds up!

09/01/2009

You are already smart; just step back from the noise & listen to yourself

Increased productivity often comes more from better tools and processes than it does from new data. When you make it a regular habit to take time out to think about your commitments and organize your ideas, the logical next steps will reveal themselves. When you know what your potential next steps are for each of your projects, it becomes much easier to find one to fit your present context and energy level.

A best practice which can pay off more than any other is to stop trying to keep track of everything in your head. These days we've all signed on for more stimulating input than any one person can engage with fully in a lifetime.

"You receive too much information, and its not your fault. Just accept that there is more information than time, and that it's increasing every day." - good experience guru Mark Hurst, in his book Bit Literacy

The essential trick in the face of this daily onslaught is to think in advance and to respond appropriately in the moment acting in accordance with your priorities. This is as true for a creative professional as it is for someone who works with structured plans in an office. 

"The randomness of my job is one of the most interesting things about it but that randomness feels less chaotic if I have all of that disparate clutter out of my head and categorized." - comedian and actor Rob Corddry

By learning the tools and techniques to regularly clear your head and review your goals and projects, you free yourself to act on new input in ways which help get you where you want to go. Distractions are transformed into opportunities or their negative impacts are minimized.

"In truth, I've found that any day's routine interruptions and distractions don't much hurt a work in progress and may actually help it in some ways. It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster's shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters." - author Stephen King in his book On Writing

Taking the real stuff of your daily life and using it to produce your best outcomes radically changes your experience of the world for the better. It is this practical approach to being focused and open to change which creates a better work/life balance and a happier you, even in the face of moment-to-moment chaos.

Gaining new skills and understanding is a gift which pays off both in the short and long term. There isn't a single one-size-fits-all answer, but the specific practices which will most help you are out there. As productivity guru David Allen put it in regard to his coaching practice, "I'm not here to tell you what's the content of your process; I'm here to find out what is it that's getting in the way of you being fully available to whatever is now. And now. And now. And now."